How Your Favorite Game of Thrones Characters Align with Common Business Development Personalities, and Strategies for Collaborating with Each – Part 1




Nearly two months after the season finale aired of Game of Thrones, I still can’t help but see similarities between the cutthroat environment of the show and the world of business development (BD). The show is about a web of alliances and conflicts among the various parties involved—all of whom are seeking to gain control and power.

Within the world of business development, it is much the same. Various companies are competing against one another for work—each wanting to gain more and more control and power over their sector(s). Within these organizations, individuals are similarly fighting for power and control—some with the company’s interest at heart, and others looking out only for themselves. And within this world, we develop a web of partners and competitors—both at the individual and corporate levels.

In this week’s blog, I’ll take a look at four of my favorite Game of Thrones characters, drawing parallels to the types of individuals we might come across in our line of business:
  • Peter Baelish
  • Cersei Lanister
  • Jon Snow
  • Brienne of Tarth

I’ll discuss the pros and cons associated with each personality, and discuss how best to approach these individuals in the workforce. Next week I’ll do the same for four more of my favorites: Samwell Tarly, Sansa Stark, Jorah Mormont, and Arya Stark. And the following week, I’ll do the same for four more of my favorites: Tyrion Lanister, Yara Greyjoy, Jaime Lannister, and Daenerys Targaryen.

Petyr Baelish

Game of Thrones Character Analysis. Petyr Baelish, nicknamed Littlefinger, is characterized by his cunning and boundless ambition. He is dangerously intelligent, utterly unscrupulous, and cunning enough to hide his intrigues. He is motivated by what suits his interests best. He is deceitful and will do whatever it takes to get ahead. He is a smooth talker and will make you feel like he is your confidante—only you stab you in the back when you least expect it.

Myers-Briggs Personality Type. According to an article published by Men’s Health, Littlefinger’s Myers-Briggs personality type is INTJ, and he would fall into the category of what they call a Strategic Leader. According to Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) online (MBTIonline.com), individuals with INTJ preferences tend to define compelling, long-range visions. These individuals also tend to excel at developing innovative solutions to complex problems. They enjoy being challenged intellectually and working in a fast-paced, achievement-oriented environment. They prefer to work independently and with adequate opportunities to develop their own ideas.

BD Personality: The Cunning Business Development Executive. With his strengths lying in long-range, strategic thinking, Littlefinger would be great at business development. He has the visionary and strategic mindset to develop a solid growth strategy. Though an introvert, he still has the smooth-talking skills necessary to gain trust in his teammates and competitors. However, because he has mainly his own best interest at heart, you need to look out for Littlefingers in the industry.
Especially when collaborating with a Littlefinger from another company, try to anticipate what his true motivations are. If he drops some competitive intelligence your way, particularly about his own company, question the accuracy of the information. He may be trying to mislead you to increase his own competitive advantage.

Cersei Lannister

Game of Thrones Character Analysis. Cersei Lannister is characterized by her narcissistic and controlling nature. She is a complex character, whose dark nature seems to drive spite and vengeance into her decision-making. Though extremely self-centered, she is also committed to protecting her family and children. She is extremely resourceful and maintains a wide network to support her engagements.

Myers-Briggs Personality Type. According to Men’s Health, Cersei’s Myers-Briggs personality type is ESTJ, falling into the category of a Decisive Leader. People with ESTJ preferences drive themselves to reach their goal, organizing people and resources to achieve it. They often have an extensive network of contacts and are willing to make tough decisions when necessary. They value order, structure, and getting things done.

Individuals with ESTJ preferences like to set clear goals and deadlines. They analyze problems using sound logic. These individuals work best in a stable environment with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. They are driven to move projects to completion quickly. They tend to favor careers that focus on accuracy, the bottom-line, and the efficient management of people, details, systems, and organizations. Their nature drives them to look to what has worked or not worked in the past, ensuring that past mistakes aren’t repeated.

BD Personality: The Catty Proposal Manager. With her strengths lying in organizing people and resources to achieve a defined end-goal, Cersei would be an extremely effective Proposal Manager. She would ensure clearly defined roles and responsibilities to manage her team efficiently in submitting winning proposals. She would drive her teams to assess lessons learned after each submission so that each proposal effort runs more effectively than the last. However, with her narcissistic and cutting personality, Cersei may not be the easiest proposal manager with whom to work. She is good at what she does, and so you’ll want her on your team, you just may skip the celebratory drinks with her after the proposal submission.

When collaborating with a Cersei, you can gain much from catering to her narcissism. We can follow some of Dale Carnegie’s advice here. Become interested in her and be a good listener. Let her talk more than you do. Learn about her personal life and understand her motivations. Praise her accomplishments and show appreciation for her. Make her feel important with as much sincerity as possible. If she feels like you have crossed her in any way, she will make your life miserable, so take care to stay on her good side.

Jon Snow 

Game of Thrones Character Analysis. Jon Snow is characterized by his thoughtfulness, complexity, and good nature. He understands the importance of leadership, selflessness, duty, and honor. He does what is right despite knowing that others may use that against him in the long run. However, he somehow manages to come out ahead in the end.

Myers-Briggs Personality Type. According to Men’s Health, Jon’s Myers-Briggs personality type is INFJ, and he would fall into the category of what they call a Perceptive Leader. Individuals with INFJ preferences are compassionate and quietly inspiring; they enjoy helping others grow and develop. They are imaginative and visionary and tend to be sensitive and reserved.

Individuals with INFJ preferences often enjoy working for organizations with a humanitarian mission and a reputation for integrity. They like designing innovative programs or services and creating new approaches, but they are also motivated by helping others develop. They prefer to work in a friendly environment with the capability to work independently, but they also enjoy opportunities to share their work and collaborate with others. They prefer to organize their own time, which allows them the freedom to fully develop and organize their ideas.

BD Personality: The Congenial Volume Lead. Jon Snow is the embodiment of your ideal Volume Lead. An introvert at heart, Jon will appreciate being able to write independently, but he’ll also enjoy collaborating with his fellow writers to assemble the volume. He’ll help the other writers grow and improve their writing, while working to develop innovative solutions in the proposal response. Jon will lead his writing team by example, and he will inspire everyone to be better. He is easy to work with and is quick to compromise; if he disagrees with the direction of the Proposal Manager, he will voice his opinion, but will ultimately follow the decided direction with no complaint. He is the ultimate team player. 

Brienne of Tarth

Game of Thrones Character Analysis. Brienne of Tarth is characterized by her loyalty and stubbornness. She is headstrong and driven by honor, justice, and recognition. She is true to her word and the embodiment of a tough and strong woman. She strives to do what is right in all situations.

Myers-Briggs Personality Type. According to Men’s Health, Brienne’s Myers-Briggs personality type is ISTJ, and she would fall into the category of a Detail-Oriented Leader. Individuals with ISTJ preferences are frequently described as dependable and systematic. They enjoy working within clearly defined systems and processes in a task-oriented and decisive manner.

Individuals with ISTJ preferences prefer stable environments, and they tend to be good at remembering relevant facts and details. Accordingly, they are drawn to roles where their strong observation skills and accuracy are valued. They are precise and accurate in their approach, and they are often are counted on to follow through, even on the smallest details. These individuals are attracted to positions that reward their loyalty and a sense of duty.

BD Personality: The Compliance Master. Brienne of Tarth is a loyal and reliable member of the team. Although she might serve another role on the BD team, such as proposal writer or manager, she will constantly be called upon to review the work of others because of her strong attention to detail. This critical skillset makes her a master of compliance. Because she is so loyal and easy to work with, her time is always in high demand.


Final Thoughts
I know I am late to the game with posting this analysis, but I hope you have enjoyed this fun little article, regardless. As I mentioned in the introduction, next week I am going to psychoanalyze Samwell Tarly, Sansa Stark, Jorah Mormont, and Arya Stark. Any guesses on the BD roles I’ll assign to each?

Written by Ashley Kayes, CP APMP
Senior Proposal Consultant, AOC Key Solutions, Inc. (KSI)
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