Five lessons for learning to be a true leader (of yourself and others), inspired by famous dialog from “The Godfather” saga.
“True leaders are ordinary people, with extraordinary determination.”
What does it really mean to be a leader? What are the essential characteristics and how can Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather” teach you about leadership?
The Godfather’s first lesson of leadership
“I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
– Don Vito Corleone, “The Godfather” (Part I)
A leader always knows how to create consent. Bernard Bass, in his manual on leadership, identifies 11 types of leadership. One of these is leadership in the art of inducing consent. The leader, thanks to his/her charisma, is able to smooth out internal conflicts within a group, aligning all in a common objective.
The Godfather’s second lesson of leadership
“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”
– Michael Corleone, “The Godfather Part II”
A leader knows how to develop interpersonal relationships. I’ve already mentioned, in previous articles, how important it is for personal growth to know how to treat others and win friends.
Unless you have won the lottery, your success, in both your private and professional life, will always depend on your capacity to develop human relationships. And often, knowing how to develop human relationships means knowing those around you, understanding their motivations and the objectives to which they aspire: whether they are friends or enemies.
The Godfather’s third lesson of leadership
“Give this job to Clemenza. I want reliable people, people who aren’t going to be carried away. I mean, we’re not murderers, in spite of what this undertaker thinks…”
– Don Vito Corleone, “The Godfather”
A leader knows how to delegate. As it is engagingly described in this cartoon from tibilog, delegating does not mean: “I command, you obey.” Knowing how to delegate means recognizing the qualities of those around you and putting faith in them, giving them responsibility and authority. To delegate successfully you must: a) choose the right people to whom to delegate; b) give them responsibility for the results you expect, but also give them c) the means to achieve the agreed aims.
Furthermore, knowing how to delegate in the right way, not only allows you to be recognized as a true leader, but also gives you the possibility to better develop your time: delegating the right activities restores control to your days.
The Godfather’s fourth lesson of leadership
“A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.”
– Don Vito Corleone, “The Godfather”
A leader knows how to choose priorities. But to know how to lead, you need to know the right direction. If you want to be a leader, you must know the path to take when you are at a crossroads and the only street-signs you have are your own priorities.
The Godfather’s fifth lesson of leadership
“Real power can’t be given. It must be taken.”
– Tagline, “The Godfather Part III”
A leader is determined. As I wrote in the initial quotation, it is not position, rank or education that makes a person a leader: a leader is an ordinary person with extraordinary determination.
If you want to take the lead in your life, if you want to courageously confront and overcome your challenges, in summary, if you want to be a real leader, of yourself… and others:
- you should have your objectives clear in your mind and be prepared to pursue them on the good days, and also on the bad ones;
- you should think of your dreams as goals already achieved, not allowing fear of failure to slow you down;
- and finally, the most important thing: you should not wait to be given something, but should go out and take it.