Is your product management style more like Jon Snow (Targaryen — yikes), Daenerys Targaryen, Cersei or Tyrion Lannister, or the White Walker’s Night King? Read on to find out!
Jon Snow: The Empathetic Risk-Taker
As a leader, Jon tries to make the best possible decisions in a timely manner. He is biased towards taking action and will often determine priorities with little to no information, with whatever resources he has available at the time. I mean, who does that? 😇
Jon’s PM catchphrase is all-too-familiar to product teams:
“Sometimes there is no happy choice… only one less grievous than the others.”
Jon’s PM superpower is: recognizing differences between groups of people and empathizing with others. Maybe because he grew up feeling like an “other” next to the legitimate Stark kids? Jon’s also got technical experience — it’s easier for his team to follow him into battle (literally) because they know he knows what’s going on.
Jon’s major weakness: Sometimes his less-calculated risks backfire in… big ways. Especially when he makes decisions against his team’s wishes (like bringing a horde of rescued wildlings into Castle Black, for example).
You’re definitely a Jon if… you step up to the plate on behalf of your team, taking ownership of some of the harder conversations with stakeholders and people who may be against your best interests. You’re good at managing disagreement between key players.
“Thousands of men don’t need to die. Only one of us. Let’s end this the old way. You, against me.”
Daenerys Targaryen: The Volatile Do-Gooder
As a leader, Dany is hyper-focused on her ultimate goal of ‘justice for all’. She spent years gathering the requisite resources to achieve her goal —although one might argue that, even with her laundry list of titles, she hasn’t yet achieved kingdom-market-fit.
Dany’s PM catchphrase is the same quintessential startup mantra you hear in product pitches ‘round the globe:
“Our fathers… left the world worse than they found it. We’re not going to do that. We’re going to leave the world better than we found it.”
Dany’s PM superpower: finding the right message to inspire her team to overcome setbacks and keep fighting the good fight on her behalf. Sometimes, a passionate motivational speech is all she needs. On other, rarer occasions, she has to eat horse hearts.
“I am Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, of the blood of Old Valyria. Valyrian is my mother tongue.
Unsullied! Slay the masters, slay the soldiers, slay every man who holds a whip, but harm no child. Strike the chains of every slave you see!”
^ see? She finds common ground with her newly-acquired Unsullied before ordering them to murder all masters.
Dany’s major weakness: You would think, after her many setbacks, that patience would be one of her stronger traits, but she is shockingly quick to threaten harm to anyone who gets in her way. Luckily, she is self-aware enough to have appointed a Hand whose wise counterpoints she’s willing to hear out.
“I will crucify the Masters. I will set their fleets afire, kill every last one of their soldiers, and return their cities to the dirt. That is my plan. You don’t approve?”
You’re definitely a Daenerys if… you’ve been counting down the days to your next “change the world” roadmap milestone before you’ve completed your current one, and your team will follow you into the dark. You might be a little… reactionary when encountering roadblocks to progress.
Cersei Lannister: The Innovative Prioritizer
Is Cersei a good leader, or was she simply married/promoted into the role?
Either way, we can agree she doesn’t have a hoard of adoring teammates — more like a twin brother, a couple skeevy folks and a half-dead guy — none of whom really have anywhere else to be.
However, Cersei does get sh*t done, so let’s continue...
Cersei’s PM catchphrase makes it clear she is juggling lots of pesky, high-stakes priorities — threats to her family, threats to her throne, threats to her safety:
“This is what ruling is; lying on a bed of weeds, ripping them out by the root, one by one, before they strangle you in your sleep.”
But how does she prioritize which one to tackle? I’d love to see the axes on her 2x2.
Cersei’s PM superpower is: innovating new solutions that drive outcomes torespond to changes in the market.
Oh no, the direwolf that hurt my son has escaped?
Intended Outcome: Justice, so I’ll sentence a different one to die (RIP, Lady).
Oh no, you poisoned my daughter?
Intended Outcome: Vengeance, so I’ll poison yours (and make you watch).
Oh no, I’m on trial for adultery and regicide?
Cersei’s major weakness: she has absolutely zero empathy for the users (Westerosi civilians) she serves. Remember when she tells Janos Slynt to bar the city gates against starving refugees? Or when she reverses Margaery’s decision to use leftover wedding feast food to feed the poor?
Smallfolk aside, she also doesn’t openly communicate, even to people who are on her team. Even Jaime, her ~Ops Lead~, has to continue to pry to get any semblance of a detail of what she’s got up her sleeve, and even then she doesn’t always tell the truth. What about her *pregnancy*?
You’re definitely a Cersei if… team dynamics might not be your thing, and instead, you tend to focus on, er, ruthless results. You’re good at keeping upcoming features under wraps and keep people on a need-to-know basis.
Tyrion Lannister: The Wise Strategist
As a leader, Tyrion is an amazing strategist and orator. He uses the right words to empower others in the right place and at the right time.
Tyrion’s PM catchphrase:
“That’s what I do: I drink and I know things.”
Tyrion’s PM superpower is: leaning into his strengths. Rather than trying to overcompensate in weaker, more technical areas (physical strength/fighting), he surrounds himself with those that CAN defend him and lends his advisory talents where they’re needed. He’s a fan of the “balanced team” concept.
“I try to know as many people as I can. You never know which one you’ll need.”
Tyrion’s major weakness: He tends to get more than a little distracted by life’s “joys” (wine, women…) and can be inappropriate at times. Others worry he might be less of a “culture fit”.
You’re definitely a Tyrion if… you research your problem space extensively before brainstorming potential solutions. You care more about strategic wins than glory. Let’s say… you make it a priority to celebrate wins.
The Night King: The Silent Dictator
Leadership style: Brute force. Subconscious zombie mind control. Don’t we all wish we had that level of control on our users and teams?
The Night King’s PM catchphrase is an “onward, march!” direction-setting.
The Night King is super good at: bringing everyone’s spirits back up after a defeat.
No, really! This would be helpful on so many levels! Bringing non-responsive users back to life, re-energizing teams or stakeholders after failures…
The Night King’s major weakness: verbal communication. Can you imagine how much easier things might be if we could have a nice lil sit-down to hear out his priorities as a Stakeholder of the North?
You’re definitely a Night King if… you have a crystal-clear direction for your product team, and you excel at re-energizing everyone after a momentary failure. Maybe you’re not the most… articulate?