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Vision, as Seen by Don Corleone

Welcome to the final installment in our series of business lessons learned in unconventional places.

Understanding the Keys to Long-Term Success

One of my favorite books is The Godfather — the story of the rise to power of organized crime boss Vito Corleone. The Academy Award-winning movie was also great, but it’s impossible to capture the depth of his character onscreen. Gotta tell you- when I started reading the book I sure wasn’t expecting to get leadership advice, but The Godfather exhibited extraordinary long-term vision that can serve as a model for executives today… if it wasn’t fictional and didn’t involve murder, bribery and extortion, of course. (Details…)

Anyway, Corleone surveyed the landscape in the pre-World War II 1900’s and recognized that dozens of warring crime factions were causing loss of life and profitability for no purpose. He also recognized that media coverage of the never-ending violence made it way too visible, which would eventually force the government to step in. That meant that to ensure the survival of his organization it would be essential to look long-term and take some very difficult steps. What did he do?

And the result? On an “industry” level, disorganized crime became organized crime, and was able to fly under the radar much easier- increasing probability of longer-term success. On a personal level, Corleone became a rich and successful CEO of a powerful “corporation.”

Key business lessons from this example:

I’ll stop here, since I don’t want to build up a (fictional) underworld figure too much. But when I first read the book I was struck by how many times I thought “that’s exactly what a great leader would do,” making it a natural fit for this series.

You might say I was looking for the perfect topic for the finale… and this was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Hope you have enjoyed the series. At Orion we are dedicated to continuous learning, so there may be other lessons coming your way soon!

Ralph Smith

Check out the rest of the series on Unexpected Sources of Business Education:

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