Win or Die

Leadership Secrets from Game of Thrones

By Bruce Craven

Subjects: Business, Leadership Studies, Popular Culture
Imprint: Distribution Partners
Paperback : 9781949933208, 300 pages, September 2023

This entertaining and accessible guide shows readers how to turn danger into opportunity, even when dragons threaten.


"When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground." — Cersei Lannister

In Win or Die: Leadership Secrets from Game of Thrones, Bruce Craven brilliantly analyzes the intense journeys of the best and worst leaders in the epic fantasy empires of Essos and Westeros, offering the reader guidance and motivation to apply the skills necessary to fight his or her own game of thrones.

Craven considers timeless characters such as Ned Stark, Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, and Tyrion Lannister as they make terrible decisions and fatal mistakes—but also achieve incredible victories and surprising successes, learning, and growing along their (often bloody) ways. Craven extracts leadership wisdom and prepares readers to compete in demanding professional environments. Readers will learn how to face conflict and build resilience, develop contextual and emotional intelligence, develop their vision, and more.

This entertaining and accessible guide will show readers how to turn danger into opportunity, even when dragons threaten.

Bruce Craven has worked for over thirty years at Columbia Business School. An Academic Director for Executive Education, Bruce teaches across the portfolio of executive programs, serves in leadership roles as Faculty Director, and teaches his popular management elective Leadership through Fiction to graduate business students. He is a published novelist, poet, and produced screenwriter. He lives with his wife and two sons in the Coachella Valley in California.


"Fans of the multi-book series or HBO's adaptation will enjoy Craven's analyses of characters' personal development and motivations in strategy … Would-be senior managers looking to hone their people skills might glean more as Craven breaks down step-by-step exercises in self-advocacy, social awareness, and relationship management." ― Fortune

"In C-suite roles, organizational success depends on educating your teams. Knowledge transfer is how senior executives improve overall performance. Win or Die presents a method to understand and implement proven leadership capabilities. Read it and prepare to compete. Winter is coming!" ― Barry Salzberg, former CEO, Deloitte

"Neuroscience tells us that sometimes looking at challenges through unconventional lenses can prompt higher levels of creative thinking. In this entertaining and instructive work for fans familiar with the Game of Thrones, fans are sure to experience a few 'aha' moments to help shape their own journeys." ― Rita Gunther McGrath, Professor of Management, Columbia Business School, and author of Seeing Around Corners

"Bruce Craven has extracted applicable leadership lessons from Game of Thrones, creating a masterful guide to drive business success. Win or Die is insightful, compelling, and impossible to stop reading. If you face leadership battles, if winter is heading your way, read this book, go forward, and win!" ― Bob Kulhan, President, Business Improv, and author of Getting to "Yes And": The Art of Business Improv

"Win or Die is an impressive and creative piece of work that tackles the complex realities of leadership in the 21st century. Bruce provides examples from the series to illustrate coaching, risk, politics, planning and implementation, and he dovetails characters and plot lines to help the modern leader confront day-to-day strategic and operational challenges." ― Dil Sidhu, Vice Dean of Executive Education, Columbia Business School

"Readable and accessible, exciting and engaging, Win or Die provides a master-class in leadership." — Paul Ingram, Kravis Professor of Business, Columbia Business School

"Bruce Craven, a born storyteller, people connector, and beloved Columbia professor, provides insightful lessons in Win or Die: Leadership Secrets from Game of Thrones. Representatives of House Stark remind us: Winter is coming. This is a simple statement with many leadership meanings. One example is that we compete in a world of rapidly evolving business models and accelerated innovation. The most likely disruptor to an existing business is increasingly not the traditional competitor, but the agile competitor who will blindside the competition. That competitor is the winter we must prepare to confront. In the land of the incumbents, choosing to do the same things won't gain you a competitive edge. Bruce shares actionable leadership lessons for GoT fans and non-fans regarding competing in this ever-changing economy. Take the time to read his book and win the Iron Throne." — Rachel Skaff, Director of North America Partner and Channel Sales, Amazon Web Services (AWS)

"Bruce brings the concepts of leadership to life through vivid storytelling and ideas. His leadership teaching at Columbia Business School covers a wide range of styles, from the challenging to the supportive, highlighting the importance of purpose, flexibility, and communication. His insights on leading through stories and fiction help leaders to motivate their teams to achieve great things, and build resilience, judgment, and empathy." — Antonia Romeo, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice, United Kingdom