What It Takes To Be A Good Leader Like The Godfather

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Popularly known as one of the best American movies ever made, The Godfather is a classic fictional mafia mob movie based on the novel by Mario Puzo. If you’ve read the book or watched the movie, you’d realise by now that it has many lessons on life, family, especially on  power, influence & leadership.
(And don’t worry if you haven’t watched The Godfather trilogy, I promise you’re still going to absorb leadership lessons from this article)

One of the most valuable lessons in The Godfather is the leadership skills of Don Vito Corleone, the mob boss who was (without a doubt) a very charismatic leader. There are a few leadership lessons that we apply to our everyday lives in being a great leader whether at work or in our personal lives.

One of the main characteristics of Don Corleone is that he was a man of very few words. This meant that he listened more than he spoke, and he listened to understand, not to argue.
In the opening scene of The Godfather, during his daughter’s wedding, Don Corleone was visited by guests asking him for favours. In these scenes, he was always calm and collected, listening closely and asking them to narrate further so he could understand more.

Not only did he listen to spoken words, but also the unspoken words while observing their body language and interpreted the conversations in his own way, supported by strong logic and reasoning.
In the world we live in today, not many people possess this quality because people simply retaliate when another person is speaking. If you have the mindset that people are out to ‘attack’ you in a conversation, you close your mind to the message that they are trying to tell you.

When you don’t listen to the other person, you tend to lack empathy, understanding and respect for that person. Everyone has insights to offer, but you may miss this if you don’t choose to listen and understand carefully.
Another good leadership skill that we can learn from Don Corleone is the way he communicates with people. Being a seasoned man of communication and negotiation who understands the situation and people, he knows how the people he deals with would act in a particular situation.

This is why he has different ways of speaking and communicating with each and every one of them. The Don would use fear to negotiate with some, he was very respectful with some, and he would be straightforward to some (like Johnny Fontane the movie star when he started crying for not getting the part in Hollywood).

When you work with different types of people from all different walks of life, the key is to understand that everyone isn’t the same. Just because you may like it when someone is straightforward with you does not mean that method will work with someone else.
People have different preferences due to different upbringing, culture and background. What motivates them, what makes them tick, and what gets them to excel are all subjected to the individual.
You need understand, put yourself in their shoes and not assume that every two people are the same. After all, what is the purpose of negotiation and communication? To get things done or reach the conclusion that you desire.
Don’t Act Based on Emotion
In the movie, Don Corleone’s eldest son, Sonny was hot headed and had a temper which eventually led to his death. The Don on the other hand was the total opposite. He never threatened, but used logic to resonate with people, not many could read him.
Don Corleone did not believe in making emotional based decisions because once you become emotional, you become predictable. Even after the death of Sonny, he knew that an all-out war amongst the Five Families of New York would drain his resources and destroy the empire that he had built and decided to end it, and didn’t use his emotions to make decisions.
When you let emotions take over, you tend to cloud your judgement and it prevents you from thinking clearly to solve any problems. In order to find a solution, you need to keep your mind free of anger, petty disagreements, jealousy and bitterness.

Instead, take a deep breath, let go of the emotions and start thinking of ways to solve the issue in a clear and concise manner. That will also make you gain respect from your team and the people around you because you have the ability to separate your emotions that particular situation.
Use the Power of Influence
The main skill that Don Vito Corleone uses in his leadership is his power of influence. In the  , this is known as the Referent Power. This means that Don Corleone has the ability to influence his followers because of the follower’s loyalty, respect, friendship, admiration, affection, or desire to gain the Don’s approval.

Don Corleone had strong interpersonal relationship skills which means that he was more towards collaboration and influence rather than command and control. He increased the number of relationships he had and used this to collect favours and leveraged on these relationships for his own gain.

As a leader, it’s important to learn the art of influence without authority. This is when you make people feel like they want to do something for you rather than making them feel like they have to. And you cannot influence people unless you understand their needs.
When you have strong influence over someone, persuading them to carry out a task is easier as they match your interpersonal needs. The approach of influence has more effect than the approach of manipulation, and this will make you a greater leader.
And in the words of Michael Corleone about his dad:

Being a great leader can sometimes be tough. Because you can’t always please everyone around you. But if you genuinely understand and care about the people around you, it’ll definitely be easier.
All you need to do is just listen to understand, and see where the other person is coming from before you make a conclusion or decision. Communication is key, and 95% of problems arise when there is lack of communication. When making a decision, always put your emotions aside because you can’t be rational when you’re emotional.
Lastly, always use the power of influence rather than manipulation because remember, people always choose to follow a great leader compared to a boss who just tells them what to do.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *