A few business lessons from ‘The Godfather’

Those of you who know me know that my last name ends in a vowel, I spend lots of time in my kitchen cooking traditional Italian dishes from my grandmother’s recipes and that “The Godfather” is probably my all-time favorite movie.

And truth be told, I learned quite a bit from that epic, including Clemenza’s recipe for homemade spaghetti sauce. And yes, it is sauce, not gravy.

But more important than Clemenza’s recipe, the film provides several valuable insights about business, leadership, ethics and how to handle the top spot as boss.

Here are some of my takeaway business lessons:

Building Relationships: In “The Godfather,” relationships are crucial for success. Throughout the movie, Vito Corleone constantly emphasizes the importance of building strong relationships based on trust and reciprocity.

Think with your head, not your heart. In business, decisions made emotionally are the true downfall to strategic thinking. Think strategically, then stick to your guns.

Strategy and Planning: The Corleone family operates with meticulous planning and strategic thinking. They anticipate potential threats and opportunities, and they devise elaborate plans to achieve their goals. Businesses can benefit from careful strategic planning, including market analysis, risk assessment and goal setting.

Risk Management: The underworld depicted in “The Godfather” is fraught with risks and uncertainties. The Corleone family manages risks by diversifying their interests, forming alliances and mitigating potential threats. In business, effective risk management involves identifying, assessing and addressing potential risks to minimize negative impacts on the organization.

Negotiation and Influence: The characters in “The Godfather” are skilled negotiators who understand the power of influence. They leverage their relationships, knowledge and resources to negotiate favorable deals and resolve conflicts. In business, negotiation skills and the ability to influence others are valuable assets that can lead to mutually beneficial agreements and partnerships.

Adaptability and Flexibility: The Corleone family demonstrates adaptability and flexibility in responding to changing circumstances and environments. They evolve their strategies, tactics and alliances to navigate challenges and capitalize on opportunities. In business, adaptability is essential for survival and growth in dynamic and competitive markets.

Brand and Reputation Management: The Corleone family carefully manages their brand and reputation within the criminal underworld. They uphold principles of honor, loyalty and respect, which contribute to their credibility and influence. Similarly, businesses must safeguard their brand and reputation by delivering high-quality products and services, maintaining ethical standards, and fostering positive relationships with stakeholders.

Succession Planning: Throughout “The Godfather,” the theme of succession planning is evident as Don Vito Corleone grooms his son, Michael, to assume leadership of the family business. Succession planning is essential for businesses to ensure continuity, stability and long-term success by identifying and developing future leaders and managers.

Ethics and Morality: Despite operating in a criminal underworld, the characters in “The Godfather” grapple with ethical dilemmas and moral ambiguity. The film explores themes of loyalty, honor, betrayal and redemption, prompting viewers to reflect on their own values and principles in business and life.

Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. Never burn bridges, always hold your ground and remember that sometimes working together with a competitor may be the best way to achieve a common business goal.

Oh, one last thought. Always leave the gun and take the cannoli.


One thought on “A few business lessons from ‘The Godfather’

  1. Brother Ray,

    Only you could write this article! Frankly, all of your points are right on. Thank you for this recap of the essential positive points of this great movie masterpiece!

    Bt the way…the famous horse’s head scene from the Godfather was duplicated for a car commercial by Audi. The bed in the Audi commercial was by AICO…this Audi commercial was a marketing masterpiece!

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