Leadership Lessons from Unexpected Places (Including Game of Thrones and 7th Grade)

Amber Johnson Leadership

Photo credit: cdrummbks via Flickr.

Last Sunday I watched an episode of HBO’s epic series Game of Thrones with my husband. And while I wasn’t hooked on the show – infanticide and dragons aren’t my thing – I was surprised at what a good treatise on leadership the show offered. Several times throughout the episode, one young upstart was reminded that to be a good leader, you have to first be a good follower.

That’s brilliant stuff: we all know this instinctively, but often forget the importance.

Lessons in leadership tend to pop up when least expected, and sometimes when you are very young. I have a clear memory from my brother’s days as a junior high basketball player. His coach told him – when I was within earshot – that a man (sic; read “leader”) brings his lunch to work, because he’s going to stay until he gets the job done. What a clear image of leadership: a beat up old metal lunch box serves as the reminder of your personal responsibility, and the value of hard work.

Tom Walter, the CEO and Chief Culture Officer of award-winning Tasty Catering, found an unusual source for his own leadership lessons: his favorite childhood book. It just so happens that his favorite book was one of my own “most often read” books, Cheaper by the Dozen. The book is about the Gilbreths, a family of 12 children with parents who are professional efficiency experts. Growing up in a large family, Walter found these stories relevant, and the lessons memorable.

Walter shares the four leadership lessons he drew from the Gilbreths in this short video, part of our Champions of Responsible Business video series:

Four Leadership Lessons I Learned in Seventh Grade

No matter how many years have passed since seventh grade, you’ll find Walter’s insights valuable to your leadership, today.

What leadership lessons have you learned from unexpected sources? Share them here, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/valuesdrivenleaders.


Looking to grow your own leadership capacity while leading your company? Learn more our M.S. in values-driven leadership – designed for executives.



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