HR & Management

Do you have what it takes to be a mob boss? 4 business lessons from The Godfather

7 min read

16 August 2018

The Godfather trilogy follows a powerful Italian-American crime family – and its quotes are by far some of the most memorable in the movie-verse.

Never rat on your colleagues, keep your “organisation’s” reputation intact and if you refuse to let go of the reigns, you may well end up with a horse’s head in your bed.

Those are just some of the main lessons from The Godfather that could work in life as well as business. Here we look at the four most famous quotes from The Godfather and how it relates to running a growing business. 

1. “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business”

Understanding your own motivations and being able to communicate that to your team is a must. Perceiving employee emotions is just as important. However, as The Godfather suggests, you need to know when to reign that all in – and when you need to be a little ruthless.

When you’re growing and you need a solid workforce, it often means letting go of those who don’t perform. In this type of situation, don’t let relationships cloud your judgement. Always think of what’s best for your business and the rest of your workforce. 

This is but one way to interpret the quote. You could say it emphasises the need for intervention between team disputes. Employees are, after all, comprised of a myriad of personalities. They won’t always agree. And when they start getting angry and venturing into personal territory, you step in.

Likewise, you won’t always be on the winning end. The business world is like the ocean – there’s an ebb and flow. You’ll lose customers and win some. You’ll gain the upper hand before a competitor’s product or service knocks you back. Don’t let this get to you. Because sometimes too much emotion leads to bad decision making.

2. “Good health is the most important thing. More than success, more than money, more than power”

Much has been said in the UK about mental health. The organisation Mind estimates that one in four Brits experience a mental health problem each year. Some one in six experience anxiety and depression in any given week.

Stress is one of the leading instigators. Of course, there are numerous health risks associated with stress. You can also start feeling rundown, your creative input can lesson, you might zone out and your emotions will run high.

Any of these can negatively impact not only the business, but the people around you as well.

Your health is what drives you to succeed and make more money. When you’re on top of your game, energised and productive, you’ll accomplish far more.

Unfortunately, while mental health is in the lime light, business owners tend to focus on staff and not themselves. Remember, change comes from the top down. Even The Godfather’s crime family realised the benefits good health has on an “organisation”.



What you can learn from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

The movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, based on a novel of the same name, cleverly tilted its humour and various pranks in beginning scenes towards a tragic ending. We’re privy to a mental institution’s patient revolt, as well as its simplistic approach to mental illness.


3. “Luca Brasi held a gun to his head and my father assured him that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract”

Negotiation plays a large role in The Godfather – and this quote is up there with “Never make a threat. Reason with people”. While it may be part of a witty narrative Michael Corleone tells his girlfriend, its meaning still holds importance.

Essentially, leave the other party with no other choice. Make your offer one they can’t refuse. Nail the negotiation basics so that you leave a lasting impression – and make it seem like you’ve already got another offer lined up.

To the company you’re negotiating with, that may as well be a gun to the head. If you’re brilliant at what you do, then letting you walk out the door without a contract could be damaging.

It’s also a call-out to confidence. Don’t let the other company walk over you. Have your say, keep your proverbial calm, and if you must, pull the trigger and leave. Never settle for anything worse – unless it’s part of a wider strategy.

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4. “I have always believed helping your fellow man is profitable in every sense, personally and bottom-line”

Research increasingly shows that customers go out of their way to pursue ethical and sustainable brands.

As Keith Weed, Unilever’s chief marketing and communications officer, once said: “Sustainability isn’t a nice-to-have for businesses. It has become an imperative.”

This came off the back of Unilever research, claiming a €966 billion opportunity exists for companies that make sustainability credentials clear. After all, people world-wide already expect brands to be part of something more, to help save communities and solve world problems.

It’s natural that businesses “helping to save the world” – no matter how small – are seen as more attractive. It certainly inspires confidence within employees and business owners.

But it also impacts the bottom-line. There will be more customers through the door and candidates knocking down walls to enter your company.

The Godfather, despite its gritty scenes, can teach you a lot about business. It’s definitely worth watching if you haven’t already done so.