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Be Like The Godfather – Leadership lessons from The Godfather

Leadership lessons from The Godfather

In the Corleone family, everybody knows who they are. There are no over lapping of roles. As a family, they are as tight as they could be because they know a loose end would bring them all down. At the center stage of this crazy world of guns and roses, of loyalty and deception, is one of the most charismatic figures in all of literature and cinema. He is a family man, a fair man, and a reasonable man. What he is not is just another man. Meet Vito Corleone – the patriarch of the Corleone family. And it is not just The Godfather himself that fascinates us, each and every character in the Mario Puzo’s world is equally enthralling.

The Godfather, books, and films were instant classics. Though they depict the inside workings of a mafia family, there are some universal themes that resonate with every entrepreneur.

Important Leadership Lessons From The Godfather

1. Don’t act on emotions

A good leader acts only after he has exhausted all of the possible outcomes that will commence after his action. It is important to think wisely and diplomatically. Santino “Sonny” Corleone, was the man who was the slave to his emotions. His emotional outbursts eventually lead to his downfall. Why? Because he became predictable. The enemies knew what buttons to press and how to play him. Don’t ever become predictable.

“Never hate your enemies. It affects your judgment.” Michael Corleone.

As a leader, you have a lot riding on your back. You can’t let it fall and shatter because of one of your emotional decisions. Though it is good to be compassionate, you need to know when you are being swayed and losing the sight of your goal by your emotions.

2. Strong goodwill

“..for Justice, we must go to Don Corleone.” 

Justice is almost synonymous with Vito Corleone. When people go to him, they know, without a shred of doubt, that they would be given justice. He might one day call upon them for a favor (which they might or might not like). They know the rules, yet they go to him. As an entrepreneur, you should strive to achieve that level of goodwill – when people turn to you with blind faith.

3. An offer that cannot be refused

“I will make him an offer he can’t refuse”

Negotiation, negotiation, negotiation. Vito Corleone always negotiates from the position of power. He is a man of strong beliefs and he adheres to them, no matter what is in the offering. This also doesn’t let other people play him in any form. He knows that time is money in a negotiation. The mark of a great leader is that he can step into the shoes of the other party and determine what they could be looking for and then give them an offer they simply cannot refuse.

As a young entrepreneur, while trying to get your idea its due attention, you cannot waste your time on useless meetings and interactions. You need to know what is it that you have to offer and then make it crisp, precise and undeniable to the people that matter.

4. Rise up to the occasion

When Vito Corleone is shot, Michael has delegated the work to answer the telephone. He is the nice one in the family, the outsider – that is his role. And so, nobody wants to involve him all in the gory, violent activities. But, when the time comes, he rises up to the occasion and avenges his father being shot and brother being killed. He realizes that he was a part of the family – that was undeniable, that he had to take a role he didn’t want and didn’t even prepare for. But time and circumstances demanded that he did.

As an entrepreneur, you have to take your role and everybody else’s very seriously. But what you also need is to be flexible and be prepared to face all the challenges and take on any role that the situation demands of you.

5. Listen to advice

The Godfather always had his consigliere, Tom, by his side for the council. He was considered family by everyone and throughout the story we see him advising each member at one point or the other. When Don Corleone was in the hospital and Sonny was running things, there was one point where Sonny said, “No more advice on how to patch things up. Tell me how to win.” Great leaders know what kind of advice to seek and when. You should be able to keep your ego aside and seek a great council. It is important to accept that you don’t know everything and that a little help from others is acceptable.

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