Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers up to and including season 7 of Game of Thrones.

Last week we looked at the importance of having a massive transformative purpose and a strong team of advisors by examining the reign of Daenerys Targaryen. Now we will look at the diabolical Cersei Lannister and analyse how her personality and ethics could play out in a corporate scenario.

 


 

Cersei Lannister

 

Cersei of House Lannister, the First of Her Name,

Queen of Andals and First Men,

Protector of the Seven Kingdoms.

 

Cersei has done some inconceivable things in pursuit of power and under the guise of preservation of her House; she displays all the traits of a narcissistic psychopath. She is only concerned with one person: herself. As is common with narcissists, she
views others close to her not as individual people but as extensions of herself, most notably her children and her brother Jaime. In protecting herself and her extensions she has crippled Bran Stark, was instrumental in the arrest of Eddard Stark, attempts
to kill her brother Tyrion, has been involved in multiple plots to kill her enemies, not to mention successfully incinerating half of King’s Landing at the Sept of Baelor.

 

“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!”

– Cersei Lannister

 

The lesson we can learn from Cersei is one of personality and morality. Cersei has a perverted ethical code and as such has made an enemy out of virtually everybody in Westeros. In the business world, if executives or directors acted like this they would
quickly find themselves losing both customers and suppliers. The ASX Corporate Governance Council’s third recommendation is to act ethically and responsibly. Ideally, boards and executives should develop and follow a code of conduct as they will be
faced with many difficult decisions. If the Crown were to implement a code of conduct for the King, Queen and Small Council, it may look something like this:

 

    1. The Crown commits to act in the interest of the Seven Kingdoms and for the good and prosperity of its people.

 

    1. The Crown expects all members of the Small Council to: act in the best interests of the Realm, act with honesty and integrity, comply with any laws decreed by the Crown, not knowingly participate in any illegal activities and not take advantage of their position for personal gain.

 

    1. Any bribes or unlawful payments offered to the King, Queen or Small Council should be immediately reported and the offerer shall be duly punished. For bribes offered of less than two gold dragons, one finger shall be removed. For bribes of greater than or equal to two gold dragons, one hand shall be removed.

 

    1. If a Small Council member has a conflict of interest pertaining to a matter under consideration, that member shall report the conflict to the Small Council and remove himself from the decision-making process insofar as the matter is concerned.

 

  1. The Crown encourages “whistleblowing” in good faith and will offer immunity from prosecution for any person reporting unlawful or unethical behaviour.

 

The lesson we can learn from Cersei is one of personality and morality. Cersei has a perverted ethical code and as such has made an enemy out of virtually everybody in Westeros. In the business world, if executives or directors acted like this they would
quickly find themselves losing both customers and suppliers. The ASX Corporate Governance Council’s third recommendation is to act ethically and responsibly. Ideally, boards and executives should develop and follow a code of conduct as they will be
faced with many difficult decisions. If the Crown were to implement a code of conduct for the King, Queen and Small Council, it may look something like this:

 

This code of conduct is wonderful in theory but obviously Cersei would never adopt such a code. The point here is that the code of conduct (for directors and officers and for employees) should be created and adopted in the first instance and outlast any
individual director or employee. Ideally, when Robert Baratheon won his rebellion he should have implemented a code of conduct that applied not only to himself and his Small Council but all the Kings, Queens and Small Council members that are yet to
come.

 

Cersei has never been one for reasonableness or compromise. She once said to Ned Stark, “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” This quote highlights the lengths she is willing to go to achieve
her goals and is willing to pay any price necessary. Another misguided conviction that Cersei holds dearly is her penchant for revenge. This seems to be a family trait that stems from the infamous Lannister catch phrase. Although the official House
words are “Hear me roar,” the Lannisters are better known for their motto, “A Lannister always pays his debts.” This phrase is in fact a double entendre; the first and obvious meaning is a Lannister settles his financial
obligations but the darker meaning is a Lannister will always exact revenge. These traits exemplify Cersei’s lack of morality.

 

“I do things because they feel good. I drink because it feels good. I killed my husband because it felt good to be rid of him. I fuck my brother because it feels good to feel him inside me. I lie about fucking my brother, because it feels good to keep our son safe from hateful hypocrites. I killed your High Sparrow… and all his little sparrows… all his septons, all his septas, all his filthy soldiers, because it felt good to watch them burn. It felt good to imagine their shock and their pain. No thought has ever given me greater joy.”

– Cersei Lannister to Septa Unella

 

A business or ruler exists to serve the community in which it operates, not exploit them. This extends to shareholders, customers, employees and the community at large. At Accodex, we have signed up to the Pledge 1% movement where we pledge 1% or our
company’s time, product and equity to philanthropic causes. Pledge 1% was in part founded by Salesforce and Atlassian, two companies leading the way in corporate social responsibility and it is our pleasure to join them. The final piece of this puzzle
is corporate culture and culture starts from the top. When Cersei massacred the elite of King’s Landing at the Sept of Baelor, she showed her kingdom that the value of human life is insignificant. This belief will trickle down to the common folk and
it would come as no surprise if the murder rate increased thereafter. So too must culture start with the directors and the CEO of a company. If they act unethically, this sends a message to employees that unethical behaviour will be tolerated.

 

Often a small indiscretion can lead to a large advantage for shareholders but these should, nay must, be avoided. To benefit shareholders at the expense of customers, or to destroy a competitor using illegal or immoral means is not only ethically reprehensible
but also will cause damage, often irreversible, to a company’s reputation. It may sit you atop the Iron Throne for a time but be sure that you will receive your comeuppance eventually. Don’t be Cersei.

 


 

Written By: Patrick Deruvo

Innovation

 


 

Image References

      1. Feature Image provided by HBO

 


 

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