Lessons Taught By The Godfather To Inspire Great Leadership

When Mario Puzo penned down ‘The Godfather’, little did he know it would become a sensational hit. The book that was later adapted into a movie has won millions of hearts and continues leaving an impact till date.  You cannot deny the driving presence of Don Vito Corleone and his son Michael Corleone even if you tried. You’ll love the Godfather even more once you see his command over leadership, with his ever so analytical mind and his oh so observant nature to get things done.

Before you read the book or watch the movie, you will wonder what can gangsters and mafia bosses teach us about good leadership? But once you’ve read and watched The Godfather there is no denying the leadership lessons that are quite apparent and elemental in making the story what it is today! When you look beyond the drama and bloodshed, you will come face to face with pure unadulterated lessons on how to lead an empire with finesse.

Here are 9 lessons that you can learn from the Don himself:

Don’t be late to delegate

Typically, people who ace at getting things done quickly, tend to be great leaders.  They reach to a certain position on both personal and professional levels because they are good at what they do. It’s a fact that most people end up talking a good game but do not follow through with diligence. On the other hand, a good leader will make things happen. As one’s empire grows, it becomes elemental to find out a way to ensure that the promises are fulfilled continually so that those who follow and believe in you continue respecting your judgement as their leader.

The Godfather exhibits an amazing ability to delegate work and get it done almost immediately. For this reason alone, he never sits alone when addressing requests for help from someone. You will see his consigliere Tom Hagen or eldest son Sonny were always at his side while he is granting favours. Once he agrees, he would immediately assign the task to one of his team members. Successful leaders understand that they can’t do it all by themselves and thus have a team ready who will see to it that a certain task reaches fruition.

The Relation-SHIP Business

An effective leader is one who fosters good relationships that result in really beneficial by-products helping the leader amass more business. Both the movie and the book bring in the limelight The Godfather’s ability to maintain hundreds of relationships that he has built over his lifetime. Creating a network both within and outside of the business is the key that unlocks the success of great leaders. Deep-rooted relationships coupled with a healthy network fuels a business and makes it more powerful.

Make Them An Offer They Can’t Refuse

The difference between people who lead and people who follow is very evident and this aspect stands out in the movie as well as in real life. It’s a given that leaders who are great at what they do, deal with things a bit differently and the way they negotiate will leave you in complete awe. When followers go in the pursuit of something, they tend to make an offer that is not very convincing and they hope that the other side will be up for negotiation. Leasers negotiate from a place of strength. They don’t quibble nor do they search for a middle ground. They tend to put their best foot forward and make their strongest offer with the conjecture that the other party will agree because it’s that good.

When negotiating, time is money. Good leaders have their own way of getting what they want because they step into the shoes of the opposition to recognise what they are looking for and then MAKE THEM AN OFFER THEY CAN’T REFUSE!

Fake It To Make It

A remarkable scene in the movie is when Don Corleone is in the hospital recuperating from multiple gunshot wounds. His son Michael shows up only to realise that his father is left with no security to stand guard which means that a hit is about to go down on the Don. He alerts the family and calls for backup and while he waits for the security to show up, the local baker stops by to visit the Don with some flowers. Michael throws the flowers away and brings the baker outside to stand on the steps of the hospital with him. He makes the baker stand in a way that looks like he’s got a gun in his jacket, whereas in truth they both are unarmed.

The point is they fake the whole thing, create pretence and follow through. When the hit men show up they see two guys out front and armed and assume that there must be full blown security and they move along without wasting a breath. Leaders can pull off a bluff when the situation calls for it.

Keeping the Lid On

During a negotiation with another family where the Don is to support a narcotics trade with his high-end political and legal contacts, his son Sonny shoots his mouth off questioning why it wouldn’t be a good deal for them. The Godfather asks Sonny to shut up and later on explains that he should never tell an outsider of what the family is thinking. The same stands true in case of business. Great leaders are exceptionally good listeners and when it comes to negotiating with clients, customers, competitors and vendors, everything they say is calculated and filtered. Speaking out your mind can cost you dearly and can even prove to be deadly for your business.

Make Good Use Of Council

The Godfather had Tom Hagen by his side always for council as he was his consigliere. When Don Corleone had sustained gunshot wounds and was in the hospital, it came up to Sonny, his eldest son to run things. While he was filling in for his father, there came a point where he said, “No more advice on how to patch things up. Tell me how to win.” Great leaders not just have valuable council available; they are very specific when it comes to the kind of council they seek.

Having a Sit Down Round The Table

When there is chaos and din all across in business and in life, great leaders take charge, step up and maintain that all parties affected gather for a meeting. Business and the way it is conducted is rife with drama, power plays and antics. In short, it could all turn into absolute pandemonium and order has to be established.  The only way to do this is to get all the parties involved in a room together for a sit down so that things can be communicated and sorted out. In the book and the movie, we see that Don Corleone brings together all the families for a meeting in an effort to call an end to the war. The meeting was aimed to talk through problems and arrive on a solution that worked for everybody.

Being the Eyes and Ears

Great leaders are the be-all of an organisation. They stand as the eyes and ears of their business and know what is going on at all times. They tend to sit back and make observations and later use it in a way that benefits their business. This can be clearly seen when Michael Corleone is at his father’s funeral. He sits backs and takes in everything that is going around, understanding what people say to him and concludes that what he is told is a small fraction of the truth.

Such is also the case in an organisation where employees, customers and associates will touch upon only the crumbs and the big picture is left out. To understand the entire functioning of a certain operation, a great leader scrutinises everything. He sees everything, hears everything and fills in the gap to see the entire picture!

Inspiring Leadership Capacity In Others

The second half of the book and the movie portray the development of Michael Corleone from a total “outsider” in the family business, to the ultimate leader and successor to his father, Don Vito Corleone. The movie/book depicts the emergence of Michael in the capacity of a leader and how the Don mentors and instils leadership in him with his trusted advisor Tom Hagen.

Leaders who are great and successful have a strategic mind that is honed to connect the dots and come up with ideas. Much of the movie shows the various strategies that Don Corelone and his advisors exercise to take care of their operations, deal with competition from other mafia families and triumph over setbacks. Making plans ahead of time, having contingency plans to fall back on, being flexible are cardinal aspects of efficient leadership that one must master.

Watch the movie or curl up with the book and you’re bound to learn so much more about being a great leader!