The fall of House Lannister
Warning: spoilers ahead.
In Game of Thrones (GOT), House Lannister, with its $10-billion wealth, was the richest and most powerful in the kingdom of Westeros.
Patriarch Tywin Lannister built the empire through political manipulation, ruthless machinations and business savvy.
His father was a weak man, so early on, Tywin worked hard, and as with many founders of family businesses today, he took strategic risks and made shrewd investments that paid off spectacularly.
As with several dynasty leaders, Tywin would tell his favorite son Jaime, “It’s the family name that lives on. It’s all that lives on. Not your personal glory, not your honor, but family.”
On the surface, it seemed Tywin would do anything for family—even rescuing his hated son, the dwarf Tyrion, from the enemy, not because he cared for his child, but because the latter’s capture was a stain on the family reputation.
Despite his lofty words, Tywin never cared for family. All too reminiscent of many of today’s business families, Tywin failed as a parent—and in the end, no amount of wealth or power could stem the downfall of their dynasty.
Tywin treated daughter Cersei as little more than a pawn to be married off for the benefit of the family business. He indulged her erratic whims but never guided her to make sound decisions. A prideful man, he never reined in her vengefulness, until it was too late.
Tywin’s relationship with Cersei’s twin Jaime was a dysfunctional paradox: on the one hand, he proudly groomed Jaime to be his heir; on the other, he disowned Jaime for disobeying him.
Tywin refused to believe Cersei and Jaime were lovers, and turned a blind eye to incest, unmindful that this would lead them both to a tragic path.
Tywin despised his youngest child Tyrion, bullying him without mercy. He blamed Tyrion for causing the death of his wife in childbirth and despised him for bringing shame to the family name by his whoring and gambling.
Even when he knew full well that Tyrion was innocent, Tywin tried to have him executed for his grandson’s murder.
When Tyrion married a peasant girl, Tywin had her gang-raped in front of his son. When Tyrion fell in love again with a prostitute, Tywin insulted her so much yet took her to his bed.
In the end, Tywin died in the hands of his own son, Tyrion.
Choosing successors is more a matter of reason rather than blind emotion. The favored heir, even if not competent, is often the chosen one, with dire results.
Despite his business smarts, Tywin lost all emotional control, and became irrational, when dealing with Tyrion.
This most glaring parenting flaw cost him the family business.
Tywin refused to ever consider that Tyrion, of all his children, was the most capable and the most suited to lead. Tyrion saved King’s Landing during the Battle of Blackwater, but his father took the credit. Tyrion successfully secured Jamie’s release, but this was acknowledged by no one (except Jaime).
Tyrion escaped to serve the Targaryen queen Daenerys, and this became the turning point that ultimately brought down House Lannister. Daenerys turned mad and rained dragon fire on King’s Landing, killing multitudes, including Jaime, Cersei, and their unborn child, putting a stop to the Lannister dynasty.
Given his experiences with his father, Tyrion probably did not wish to become a parent. When he nominated Bran Stark to be the next king, he proclaimed that the fact that this crippled lad could not father a child was a point in his favor, in order to end power-hungry dynasties.
“Tywin believes he’s a tactical genius, but he’s actually a tyrannical fool,” say Christopher Porzenheim and Audric Figueroa in popular culture website “Escapist Magazine.” “Because his allies never had a reason to work with him beyond fear, his death inspires opportunism rather than loyalty. Followers of the Lannister way require preternatural luck, because their naive, inflexible and self-undermining conduct alienates everyone.”
The rise and fall of House Lannister is a cautionary tale for family businesses.
Queena N. Lee-Chua is with the board of directors of Ateneo’s Family Business Center. Get her book “All in the Family Business” at www.lazada.com.ph or call National’s Jennie Garcia at 0915-421-2276. Contact the author at [email protected]
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