Leadership lessons from the “Godfather”
What can a businessman or a manager learn from The Godfather? I had the chance to watch the movie again, after a long time, and really offered me an unexpected reward. So, my answer would be: a lot.
The first time I saw The Godfather, apart from the excellent performances, of course, I was fascinated by this completely foreign world that was revealed to me. But the revelation came to me the second time I saw the movie, when I realized that I knew a lot about this world after all. Of course, I do not mean the mafia world, but the world of managing people and situations; the world of choices and decisions, universal themes related to community, team building, playing to win and family.
The Godfather offers five essential leadership lessons through Marlon Brando’s part, which relate to every effort a manager must bring to fruition.
- A powerful social network – Someday, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me – Vito Corleone
Though delivered with distinct irony by Marlon Brando, this phrase rings true. The elegant way that Vito Corleone binds his interlocutor is based on a loyal and powerful society/group of people he has helped. Thus, we witness the creation of a network of influence where, usually, a person exercises power and safeguards their leading position. Indeed, the favour might never be called in, but the power of the person who asks is indisputable.
More specifically, we can contemplate the creation of strategic partnerships that have the potential to boost a business and make it more flexible and efficient. Indeed, Vito Corleone talks to us about the public relations and social networks we should build and maintain.
- Our partners must be responsible and liable for their actions – What’s the matter with you? I think your brain is going soft – Vito Corleone
This is what Vito Corleone said to his son upon finding out that he had given information he shouldn’t have to someone outside the family. The result was his attempted murder.
In the business sector, two of the most precious qualities a person can have is being consistent and being firm; consistent in their goals and firm in the way they go about achieving them. In order for this to happen, all members of a team must realize the responsibility they are assuming.
Therefore, continuing to tolerate executives / products / services / partners that perform poorly and are letting us down endangers our entire edifice.
- There is no room for emotion in business – It’s not personal Sonny. It’s strictly business – Vito Corleone
Many people refuse to come to terms with the idea that in business you are either a winner or a loser. When Sonny acts impulsively and emotionally, he is removed, as he is considered inadequate.
In business, if we do not take the first step, if we do not react, we do not demand, we do not win, the competition will. We definitely do not suggest unethical methods or extreme practices; we mainly state the general truth that, once you start making emotional choices, you are making the wrong choices. It is therefore necessary to know the competition, to know our advantages and to be at least one step ahead. At the same time, with reliability and respect towards others, we must take advantage of the opportune moment – and take the lead.
- Decisiveness matters
People I have talked with about The Godfather are usually either surprised or respectful. Surprised because Vito Corleone does not hesitate to kill a member of his own family and respectful because he knows exactly what he wants, how he wants it done – the hit is clear and direct – and he always holds the indisputable role of the leader.
Fortunately, in real life we do not have to kill anybody to prove we are right; however, we must definitely be clear, direct, decisive, and keep moving forward. See who on your team makes the right choices and trust them to set the course of action. Uncertainty and wavering, on the other hand, lead to lost opportunities.
- Time with family: priceless – Do you spend time with your family? Because a man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man – Vito Corleone
Though this phrase from the 1940s sounds old-fashioned and a bit macho, what we must pay attention to is the prompt to spend time with family and friends. To take some time and stay away from the office and everyday worries and give our mind the chance to clear up, rest and be productive again.
For a manager to be efficient, creative and always on alert, he / she must be with other people, talk, exchange images and experiences and develop other passions besides his / her job.