Leadership lessons from the movie Godfather

It’s hard to believe that movies about mafia bosses and gangsters that are usually about massive bloodshed and over the top drama can provide any kind of positive life lessons but ‘Godfather’ is not just another mafia film, it’s a legendary gangster saga we have all come to love and it is in fact loaded with endless life lessons on how to handle almost every tricky situation you may encounter at work or home.

There’s a reason why the protagonist of the movie Don Vito Corleone’s words have found place on innumerable posters that the fans can’t get enough of.

Let’s look at a few instances from the life of Don Corleone to learn some significant life lessons, starting with the moment when he reminded us what a great leader means and how can one lead an empire:

Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer

Movie scene - This was what Don Vito Corleone had taught to Michael Corleone in their old mansion which was taken over by Pete Clemenza and Frank Pentangelli. Michael had said to Frank,"I've learnt many things from my father in this room. He told me keep your friends close but your enemies closer.”


The devil is always in the details. Always keep a watchful eye on your enemies and play life’s “game of chess” with precision, dedication, and tact. Always hold your ground and never burn bridges, no matter how much you might dislike someone.

Don't let anyone outside family know what you are thinking

Movie scene - Even though Vito Corleone refused Solozzo the proposal of investing in narcotics business, his son Sonny who disapproved of his father's decision, ended up showing his frustration in front of Solozzo. The outsider saw a weakness in the Corleone family and sensed the difference in opinion among the family members. He decided to use that weakness to his advantage.


Never frivolously share your personal information/secrets with anyone you don’t fully trust, especially at workplace. It may come back as a huge disappointment to you.

Make an offer nobody can refuse

Movie scene - Don Vito Corleone was visited by his godson, the singer Johnny Fontane. He asked for Vito's help to secure a film role that would boost his fading career. The head of the film studio had previously refused to give Fontane the part, but Don Corleone stood by his side. His words to Johnny were - "Act like a man. I'll make him an offer he can't refuse."


Leaders negotiate with confidence. They make their strongest and best offer in the worst times. They have deep human insight. They already know what rivals are looking for, and hence are able to put their best foot forward.

A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man

Movie scene - Vito asked his son Michael if he gets enough time with his family. His gesture reflected that his family was always above all for this gangster. He wanted the same for his son too. No matter how many times he tried to keep himself away from his family, the best times in his career came when his sons and his wife were beside him. He protected them while he was alive, and left behind a legacy after he died.


Great leaders have always displayed compassion and love for their dear ones. History is testimony to the fact that rising up the ladder professionally while ignoring your family can never bring you real success. Regardless of the circumstances you may face at your workplace, family should never take a backseat.

Establish friendships out of respect, business, and trust

Movie scene - Take a moment to read Don Corleone words - “Friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent. It is more than the government. It is almost the equal of family.”


You cannot choose your family, but you can choose your friends . The friends you have around you (professionally or in your social circle) will help influence who you are becoming every day. So, surround yourself with people who embody the qualities you value.

Most importantly, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. Not once did Don Corleone look back on any decision he made. He may have failed, but he never lost faith in himself and in his ability to overturn circumstances which were not in his favour.

When in self-doubt, remember his words - If you doubt your power, you give more power to your doubt ...

(Image credit: Tumblr)
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