Blog Hero: The Godfather: Leadership Lessons

Leadership Lessons from “The Godfather”

Seriously, how could I refuse?  In an April 2, 2012 article in Fast Company by Lydia Dishman, some sage advice is shared with executives in growth organizations on the merits of leadership Mafia style.

1.     Build a Powerful Community

Whether it’s your friendly funeral home director or doing a favor for a new LinkedIn connection, it is true that helping your peers will benefit your business in the long run.  We are all short on time but one good turn deserves another and builds a “goodwill” account that can come in handy when facing your next financing, looking for a top notch sales person or addressing management struggles. I prefer to not keep a ledger on this sort of thing but your network will be much faster to respond when you’ve been responsive to them.

2.     Hold People Accountable

Showing weakness leads to assassination. Ok, that’s a bit severe but in business or life, there are moments where bravery is a requirement and the path of least resistance is a killer.  A wise person told me once, hire slow and fire quickly.  FTE’s are a huge investment and a weak link in any area of a growth organization is like a cancer that causes far more damage than meets the eye.  I’m a big fan of ripping a band-aid off quickly, whether it’s a bad consultant or employee, don’t wait the cost is more than you can imagine.

3.     Don’t Get Emotional

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.  Know the competition, respect them and always try to get the jump when an opportunity arrives.  There is always room for more than one player in any industry but there is also only one leader.  The worst thing a small company can do is put on blinders, telling investors “there are no competitors”…  Blinders and emotion will also get you killed (ask Sonny).

4.     Be Decisive

People follow leaders who are decisive and know how to protect the family by taking action.  Leaders also trust the people who share the management responsibility.  There is no room for micromanagement in a growing company. See #2–if you hire well that shouldn’t be an issue, if you hire weak this will always be a problem.

5.     Spend Time with the Family

“Forgit about it….”  Companies are like families but they are no replacement for a social life.  Work hard, play hard and love your family with your time and attention. I’ve worked in many organizations where this was not supported. If you hire to that expectation you’ll get the kind of employees who tell you what you want to hear and are not “whole” in the sense of balancing the work life with their real life.

6. Trust Wisely

“Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes…” I’ll add just one more point. Know who you can trust and who you can’t. This is a critical issue in business.  Those of us who are trusting can easily be taken advantage of—a healthy skepticism is a good thing. Remember, if someone tells you who they are by their actions, take that as the truth and act accordingly…

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