Dole Out Punishment Equally

I have spent the majority of my day today watching Game of Thrones since half of the newest season leaked online last night. While watching the show I made some observations about leadership that I thought were very important and worth sharing. Their was one leadership lesson that I though was particularly important and I am going to share with you in this post. That lesson is the idea that as a leader you should always discipline your subordinates equally.

This lesson came from an episode of Game of Thrones where  one of the rulers Daenerys Targaryen was faced with a harsh decision of how to punish one of her followers after he blatantly disobeyed her. He was guilty of killing a prisoner awaiting trial. The prisoner that he killed was guilty of trying to overthrow the queen. Although, the queen knew he was guilty she decided to let him go to trial. This did not sit well with one of the people on her council who thought he should be executed immediately, and took it upon himself to kill the prisoner without the queens permission. He for sure thought that his close status to the queen would protect him, but unfortunately it did not.

For the queen this was not an easily made decision, she knew the prisoner that this man had killed was most likely going to die as a result of his trial. Even though, she still believed the man deserved a trial. Furthermore, if she was to let the man who killed the prisoner go, it would show that she was siding with the poorer people of her society. The prisoner represented the wealthy elite who were not happy with some of the decisions the queen had made, while the man who killed him represented the former slaves. If she were to have pardoned him for his crime it would have just upset the wealthy elite even more and showed favoritism toward the former slaves. She needed to make it clear that she did not favor one side over the other and that in order for a society to function their needed to be a clear form of justice. In order to make this point she had the man who murdered the prisoner executed. This did not sit well with the poor as you might have expected but it sent a very clear and loud message that she was not picking sides, and that everyone in her society would be punished equally under her laws.

It was not an easily made decision for her, but the decisions a leader has to make rarely are. For people in the business and professional world the same rules apply. Your subordinates and followers need to know that punishments will be the same regardless of who committed the act. Playing favoritism with punishments, and also rewards, can send a very negative message that might cause other people in your organization to have animosity towards you.


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