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In Defense Of Daenerys’ Terrible Leadership Skills, And How She Can Win The 'Game of Thrones’

We asked a life coach to weigh in on how the Mother of Dragons can get her groove back.

Daenerys Targeryen (Emilia Clarke) has always had her fair share of haters who think she's been wasting too much time NOT conquering Westeros with her dragons. But lately things have gotten even worse for the Breaker of Chains -- her children are all either permanently grounded or running away from home, and they only seem to like her when she's feeding them her enemies. Meanwhile, the city she "liberated" from its long tradition of slavery is starting to turn on her. What happened to the badass Valyrian speaker who totally knew what she was doing?

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As frustrating as it is to watch Daenerys mess up, a lot of prevalent fan theories in the "Game of Thrones" community suggest that she's SUPPOSED to be messing up right now, for a number of different reasons. First of all, she's getting the chance to test herself as a leader before she actually DOES move on to Westeros, where hopefully she won't be making the same mistakes (unlike Cersei, for example, who keeps deposing the people she doesn't like without considering that their replacements might be worse). Secondly, she's getting all of the bad leadership lessons she learned while living with the Dothraki out of her system -- conquering people isn't exactly a long term solution unless you put a lot of time and effort into integrating your new subjects into your kingdom, which Drogo never really bothered to do.

Finally, some people even theorize that her story is meant to reflect the problems of Western Colonialism and current Middle Eastern foreign policy in general. Remember how mad the Internet was when the end of Season 3 depicted her as a white savior in a sea of darker skinned slaves? According to this theory, that was intentionally supposed to make us feel uncomfortable, because Daenerys really is going about this in all the wrong ways.

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So how can Daenerys turn her newly conquered city state around and become more than just a metaphor for the evils of imperialism? To get to the heart of the matter (it's a horse heart, of course), we spoke with life coach Lauren Zander, co-founder and chairman of a private coaching company called The Handel Group. In her opinion, Daenerys made a big mistake when she had that Mereeneese slave executed a few episodes back, because it demonstrates a shift in her principles.

"Your principles tell you the truth in the moment. People have principles, and if you know our principles really well they tell you how to conduct yourself," Zander told us over the phone. Daenerys, she says, is "having conflicting principles. She wants everybody to like her to some extent, and then she wants everybody to follow her beyond measure."

"Do you want people to love you and respect you or do you want people to fear you? Where are you on that?" Zander added. "She's torn between being loved and feared and keeps making decisions for both. It makes her a lame leader. She has to pick her team, she has to pick what's most important to her. And that tells her how to bend."

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But what about her dragons? Funny enough, the answer might be to spend more time with them, just like you might do with actual human offspring. "Rather than growing and developing them and spending a few hours a day developing a relationship, she just wants them to be good dragons, and that's not how children grow. She's dialing it in."

"[Tyrion Lannister and Jorah Mormont], they'll really have her take over the world," Zander concluded, stressing that Daenerys seems to value having men in her life who can advise her. "That's the whole plan, so that little team is coming together. And she's marrying the right family guy, so that should put her back. I think she's about to get out of this whole mess. I think she made a few of the right decisions and I think she's gonna get rolling on attacking the world."

Although, there are some things even a life coach doesn't have the answers for. "I have no idea what she's doing with those dragons, though," she laughed.