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



Becoming a Great Leader in the 21st Century

In class we briefly discussed the big question of whether leaders are born or made, with reasoning for both sides of the argument. Is this question important at all? Or is it, as some researchers feel, a redundant question to ask?


As we have seen in the discussion on the IVLE forum, the general opinion is that knowing whether leadership ability emerges out of nature or nurture will bear implications on how organisations select, recruit, or train their employees.

The belief that “some leaders are born, others can be made” has resulted in many companies turning to leadership development programmes, which typically involve a myriad of activities: corporate training programmes; off-site assessments; and coaching for example, to help develop great leaders for the company. It is usually within these programmes that individuals are exposed to theories of leadership and its measures e.g. The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire to measure the 4 “I”s of Transformational Leadership.

Many have debated the effectiveness of such leadership development programmes, one of whom is Rosalinde Torres. She conducted a study across 4000 companies, and found that despite the Leadership Programmes in place, 58% of the companies cited significant talent gaps for critical leadership roles i.e. they failed to develop enough great leaders.

Video: http://www.ted.com/talks/roselinde_torres_what_it_takes_to_be_a_great_leader/transcript#t-285156

Torres then argues that this is because of the reliance of said programmes on outdated performance criteria and narrow 360 surveys, which no longer hold up, given that the 21st century is now global, digitally enabled, and transparent, with faster speeds of information flow and innovation.

So then comes the question.

What does this mean for us (students of OB, about to enter the workforce within the next few years and eager to develop our leadership capabilities)? Given our limited resources, how can we as individuals better prepare ourselves to take up leadership roles in 21st century organisations?

Here I have set out a few pointers that I believe can help us in our personal leadership development journey:

1)    Anticipate Change & Be Ready When It Comes

The 21st century is known to be synonymous with change. Great leaders need to be able to see the change that is coming before it arrives and be prepared and well-equipped to deal with it when it does.  This sounds more complicated then it actually is. What many of us fail to realise is that inspiration can lie in what surrounds us. Here are some tips on how we can go about understanding the art of anticipation.

  • Read widely
  • Converse with people of different backgrounds
  • Be insatiably curious on various topics
  • Identify trends that impact you & trends that impact others
  • Remain observant and vigilant of what is happening in the world

The last thing any leader wants is to be taken by surprise by a change he or she did not see coming – and change comes often in the 21st century.


2)    Grow a Diverse Personal Network

We all have a group of people we are comfortable with. We tend to turn to this group when we need help or advice, or just a different perspective on issues. What we all need to do now is to grow our network beyond our comfort zone. Engaging and developing relationships with individuals who come from different biological, physical, geographical, political, cultural, socioeconomic backgrounds from us will allow us to grow our cultural intelligence (CQ), a necessity given the diverse workforce in 21st century organisations. On top of that, conversing and interacting with individuals from different backgrounds can help us develop new solutions and approaches, some of which we would never have thought of ourselves, when dealing with problems in the future.

3)    Be Courageous & Dare to Be Different

A big part of being a leader is being courageous as it involves doing things that might be personally uncomfortable for you. Human nature is such that if a method works, we would stick by it. However, the nature of the 21st century means that what might have worked for you previously, may no longer work today. Are you courageous enough to abandon this practice you have adopted, and step out of your comfort zone? Develop your courage:

  • Be more patient
  • Don’t take feedback or criticism personally
  • Listen and delay judgement
  • Don’t just talk risk-taking, do it

These pointers I have set out above are meant to help us, resource-poor students, to start off our leadership development journey in the 21st century. Hope you have found it useful.







Teams in Organisations: Oticon

When we leave university and step out into the workplace, the majority of us believe ourselves to be prepared to work with others in teams to meet specified goals or objectives. Teams are the norm now, though it was not the case decades ago when traditional hierarchical structures were perceived to be the most efficient and effective.

I have chosen to share with the class the case of Oticon, a Danish hearing aid technology company that once dominated the market in the 1970s but found itself lagging behind its competitors from the 1980s onwards. In the early 1990s, its CEO, Lars Kolind decided to implement drastic changes to the company to turn its performance around.


Kolind introduced a project-oriented organisation structure, where employees worked in self-formed, cross-functional teams. This later resulted in what became known as a “spaghetti organization”.

What image does the plate of spaghetti invoke?


Complex, informal, flexible “spaghetti organization”

Oticon experienced great success with the project teams and managed to outperform its big name competitors such as Siemens and 3M as it was able to bring innovative, high-quality products to the market at a much faster rate.


I will use the Team Effectiveness Model that was introduced in class to analyse what factors could have contributed to the effectiveness of the teams, and ultimately Oticon’s success in the early 90s. I have organised the information obtained from the various research in the table below.

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From the Oticon case, we are able to pick out what the company managed to do well in order to create effective teams that drive innovation and creativity. Some of the measures implemented can in fact serve as learning points to other companies that are looking to establish creative teams.

However, there remains some setbacks.

I have surmised that Oticon would have to resolve several issues in order to develop a project-based “spaghetti” organization that is sustainable in the long term:

  1. How will employees progress in the company in terms of career development given the rather flat structure?
  2. Will employees lose their functional “mastery” due to the multi-disciplinary focus? Is this necessarily a bad thing?
  3. How will the management control workplace politics? Is it possible that employees might only wish to work in teams with select individuals, depriving others of opportunities to work on “good” projects?

I feel that these are questions Oticon really needs to address if it hopes to maintain effective teams as part of its organizational structure. Do share your thoughts if you have an answer/ opinion with regard to the questions posed above. 🙂



Kolind, L. 2006. ‘The Second Cycle: Winning the war against bureaucracy’. Wharton School Publishing

Foss, N. J. 2003. ‘Selective intervention and internal hybrids: Interpreting and learning from the rise and decline of the Oticon spaghetti organization’. Organization Science 14: 331-349.

New Frontiers. “Rethinking Management’s First Principles.” <http://www.managementlab.org/files/u2/pdf/case%20studies/OticonCaseStudy_.pdf>.