High-Impact Leadership: Daenerys Targaryen

In class we discussed the 6 Leadership Styles as brought up by Goleman in ‘Leadership that Gets Results’. We used the case of Raising Haier to identify Zhang Ruimin’s behaviours and his adoption of different leadership styles to suit the situation.

Leadership that Gets Results (Goleman, 2000) 

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Goleman’s research has found that leaders with the best results do not rely on only one leadership style, but rather, that they seamlessly switch between the styles depending on what the situation calls for. This ‘fluidity’ is a result of emotional intelligence, which makes them sensitive to the impact they have on others. They are known as “high-impact” leaders.

Different individuals are predisposed to exhibit different leadership styles due to their different sets of emotional competencies. For example, leaders who score low on the competencies of empathy, self-confidence and change catalyst might find that they experience difficulties in exhibiting Authoritative Leadership.


4 Fundamental Capabilities of Emotional Intelligence & the related Competencies

A quick Google search will provide one with a long list of individuals widely accepted as “great leaders”. However, in this post, I have chosen to look at the leadership styles exhibited by someone rather unexpected: Daenerys Targaryen.

This name might not be familiar to you if you have not read George R.R Martin’s epic fantasy novels or watched the popular HBO tv series, The Game of Thrones.


Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen

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The choice of a fictional character might seem odd but the very fact that we are able to observe her actions, speech and behaviour allows us to identify her use of different leadership styles. It is my opinion that there is value in being able to see it being practiced, albeit on screen. In this post, we will look at 4 of the leadership styles she regularly exhibits

Coercive Leadership

We see her exercising this leadership style quite often as the ‘Queen’ amongst her followers. She orders, commands, and admonishes them as necessary. There have been situations in which she declares, “I am your Queen and you will do as I say” to obtain compliance.

It is worth noting that she uses such tactics in situations where she needs to regain control, to direct immediate action, and in interactions with difficult followers. However, Daenerys does not utilize this leadership style alone. Once the ‘critical moment’ requiring severe action has passed, she modifies her behaviour and switches to other styles.

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Authoritative Leadership

Daenerys employs the use of Authoritative Leadership to unite and mobilise her followers towards her vision of reclaiming the kingdom. She addresses them with passion and confidence, while repeatedly highlighting that the journey is one in which they would undertake together as “free men”.

She utilizes this tactic effectively as she posits herself as a visionary who has a plan and a clear direction to achieve her goal. This instills confidence and belief in the followers and provides them with a long-term purpose to work towards.

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Affiliative Leadership

Daenerys is compassionate and kind to her followers, putting them first and gaining their trust thereby earning her title of “Mhysa” or mother.

This caring and nurturing approach allows the attainment of harmony and building of emotional bonds. Daenerys effectively provides them with a sense of belonging and community.

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Democratic Leadership

Daenerys does not presume to know everything there is about warfare and thus practices Democratic Leadership in some situations. She values the opinion of her followers and constantly approaches her team for advice, resulting in decisions and strategies that are calculated and wise. Furthermore, her listening ear and openness to their perspectives sends a clear message that she respects and trusts them and this improves followers’ morale.

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Become a “High-Impact” Leader like Daenerys Targaryen

Grow your emotional intelligence

  • Conduct a 360-degree evaluation to identify lacking competencies
  • Work up a plan to improve on weaknesses
  • Keep track of active behaviour, take a step back, and modify behaviour
  • Be patient and work on it conscientiouslyScreen shot 2014-04-25 at PM 04.08.55


Note: Since this is the very last blog post, I’d like to thank everyone for all the contributions they have made to make this module very enjoyable for me. I’ve learnt a lot from the seminars, class discussions, IVLE forum discussions, and the blog posts. 🙂


Goleman, D. (2000). Leadership That Gets Results. Retrieved from: http://www.haygroup.com/downloads/fi/leadership_that_gets_results.pdf



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