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7 Leadership Lessons From Rhaenyra Targaryen, the First Woman on the Iron Throne

Rhaenyra Targaryen
Image credit: Warner Media
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If you are not watching House of the Dragon because you are not a fan of fantasy worlds, you should for other reasons. Fans might argue that the record-breaking show of HBO Max cannot live up to the standard of Game of Thrones, but we found inspiration in the rising of a future leader, Rhaenyra Targaryen.

Who is Rhaenyra Targaryen?

Almost 200 years before Daenerys Targaryen of Game of Thrones became the mother of dragons and a Khaleesi, Rhaenyra Targaryen, Princess of Dragonstone, was the first woman on the Iron Throne. 

The silver-haired did it for a short period – six months, during the Targaryen Civil War, known as the Dance of the Dragons. But while she did sit in Aegon the Conqueror’s chair to rule Westeros, she did not manage to lead the Seven Kingdoms.  

As House of the Dragon is becoming the most watched show on HBO Max, around 10M people tuned in to see the premiere and help revamp the American subscription video-on-demand service owned by Warner Bros. Discovery, we take a look at what tech entrepreneurs could learn from the fiery woman. 

Before we dive into it, know that it will contain a few spoilers that might ruin your enjoyment of the show. Sorry about that. 

Lesson #1 Be bold and challenge the status quo

The Valyrian dragon-rider was not afraid to go against what the court reserved for royal women as a priority – making heirs, and she learned how to befriend dragons and outrage her mother, Queen Aemma. Thus showing courage to shift old gender roles. 

Lesson #2 Go out of your comfort zone 

Not only that, but she also accepted with excitement when her father appointed her his successor for the throne, keeper of the secret dream of fire and ice – the White Walkers prophecy. Thus depicting high loyalty for the only remaining parent, the one who took her under his wing and taught her how to both lead and serve – she was his cupbearer from a young age.  

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Lesson #3 Learn to negotiate

When her uncle Daemon stole a valuable dragon egg to mess with the king, she took initiative and went to retrieve it. Knowing her uncle’s affinity for her, she wanted to work things out peacefully, and she succeeded. 

Lesson #4 Don’t be afraid to show vulnerability

After her mother’s death and being estranged from her father, she revealed that she felt lonely. Sometimes, losing a teammate, a client, or even a business project that hits a dead end, can bring up emotions. Allow yourself time to weep and move on.

Lesson #5 Block time for deep thinking

During this mourning period, Rhaenyra’s best friend at the time – Alicent Hightower, and her future Queen, showed her how she can overcome sadness by praying to her mother’s spirit. When going through stressful periods, it’s important to take a step back and meditate before jumping on the high horse again. 

Lesson #6 Listen and observe when entering an unknown territory

They say that we have two ears and one mouth because we should listen more and speak only when we must. The young dragon-rider had many opportunities to observe political strategies and learn how to rule from the role of the King’s cupbearer. But one time, she was put down by her father because she spoke in front of the advisors when she should have taken mental notes instead of aiming to shine in an unfamiliar environment. 

Lesson #7 Don’t be too proud to pivot when you have to

Ego is the enemy in most cases, and Rhaenyra Targaryen got stuck with the idea from a young age that the throne is hers. She fought with her family, but the Iron Throne didn’t accept her – whenever she sat on it she got cut, and history proved that in this realm, you either win with the right support, or you die. So, it’s OK to pivot

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This is what The Recursive has come up with after watching the Game of Thrones series, as well as the first episodes of the House of the Dragon. Let us know in a comment below your lesson from the new series. 

For the stories of women in tech in the real world, check our interviews with female founders and investors from across Southeast Europe.

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Elena is an Innovation Reporter at The Recursive with 10+ years of experience as a freelance writer based in Bucharest, Romania. Her mission is to report internationally on the amazing progress of the local startup ecosystem while bringing into focus topics such as diversity in business cultures and women in tech; mental health, work-life balance, and the future. Of what? Everything! As a former solopreneur and a full-time mom, she strives to learn something new every day to share with the world. #nevernotlearning