By John A. Passante
As a Sicilian, my favorite movie is “The Godfather.” After all, it deals with the essence of family: love, hate, commitment, the power of clear focus, celebrating events (the wedding scene), values and rituals and executions (no, the good kind achieving your goals).
Far be it from me to disagree with “The Godfather,” however, I would like to offer a different perspective on the famous quote “It is not personal, it is strictly business!”
“Tom, don’t let anyone kid you. It’s all personal, every bit of business. Every piece of junk every man has to eat every day of his life is personal. They call it business. OK. But it’s personal as hell.” Michael Corleone speaking to Tom Hagen
Ponder the following: Most events (things) that affect or influence employees are indeed “personal”
of course with all due respect to “The Godfather.” I think you will concur that recruiting and hiring an individual is PERSONAL. Joining a new organization (the mafia) changes the person’s life, location, rewards system and leadership all of which is personal.
One cannot watch “The Godfather” without feeling the passion! Business and passion are soul mates! The Oxford English Dictionary defines passion as, “Any strongly felt emotion, such as love, lust, hate or envy.” The Corleone family exudes the Sicilian passion! Would you agree that a passion for achieving business objectives is a necessary trait for all leaders?
One of the most important roles for leaders (Godfathers) is to promote deserving employees who produce results. Don Vito Corleone taught us about rewarding, as well as disciplining employees. In each case, it is quite personal! It may be business, but it is personal. Just ask Fredo.
Leaders develop people who are committed to the success of the organization (the family). “Never discuss family business in front of strangers.”
One of the different tasks that leaders must confront objectively is the termination of a non-performing, disloyal employee. We witnessed how Michael Corleone handled his brother-in-law! Indeed, personal plus. Sonny gets a little emotional!
“The Godfather” addresses planning, dedication and doing what is good for the organization. Yes, as we know risk-taking is involved. The movie is a lesson in giving feedback and weeding out associates who are not supporting the strategic plan.
“The Godfather” is about taking a local olive oil business and diversifying it while going global. It also deals with knowing your competition.
We learn how Vito had a succession plan and turns the family business over to Michael. There are serious consequences for not supporting the organization’s mission statement (“He made him an offer he could not refuse.”)!
Who is your consigliere?
Clearly, the Godfather touches and inspires “his people.” His followers put themselves on the line each day and deliver extraordinary results! “The Godfather” teaches about the need to change, as well as what products we want to take to market.
In today’s demanding, global, fast-paced business environment, it is easy to lose focus! The mafia is committed to one goal: Moving the business forward toward success and growth! In the “family,” there is little time for distractions and conflicting agendas, and such behavior will not be tolerated. Remember the meeting of the five families?
Vito Corleone was a leader with wisdom, realism and optimism. His message boosts the vision with a positive regard for its realism. He mentored Michael to explore potential risks (“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”), and how to overcome obstacles (the other families) with commitment, courage, creativity and of course, force!
The Godfather was clearly a leader of action! He was keenly aware of the different personalities, different behavioral styles and business orientations. He analyzes these factors before he takes action.
Michael Corleone had the ability to speak his mind clearly, with the right words at his command, and spoke with force, sensitivity and respect to the truth at hand. Michael also communicated quite clearly with his eyes.
We are in a time of the fastest change in human history (Change is personal). Leaders are required to be adaptable, flexible and yet remain focused. If we reflect on the message of “The Godfather,” we will vividly see these traits! All of which require buy-ins by the leader and the organization (the family).
My premise is, in fact, that most things in business are personal and will continue to be so! The truth about life in this new millennium is that there is no status quo. There is only change! Leadership is about trust. So the next time you are involved in changing an employee’s world remember IT IS PERSONAL!
With that being said, make your employees an offer they cannot refuse! Involve them in the change! I dare you! Come with friendship, not with dollar bills!
“Leave the gun, (Negative employee relations) Take the cannoli.” (Praise employee, build trust)
Clemenza to Rocco
The Godfather (John Anthony Passante)
Post Script: I suspect that there are young Automotive Aftermarket professionals who have not watched “The Godfather.” It should be required viewing as a part of their career development! *
*Just a Sicilian suggestion!
John Passante has more than 30 years of organizational development and senior human resource experience. His expertise is in management development, change management, training, recruiting, administration, executive coaching, succession planning, corporate communications and public relations. He is a motivational speaker who conducts seminars in the U.S. and internationally. Passante previously served as vice president of human resources at CARQUEST; senior vice president at Moog Automotive; and senior director worldwide human resources for Delphi Products and Service Solutions. He is an adjunct professor at Northwood University. Currently, Passante is the president and CEO of the Organizational Development Group Inc. His firm specializes in recruiting, coaching, change management and culture enhancement. Passante attended the University of Toledo, has a masters of business degree from Indiana Northern University and earned doctorate degrees from Pacific Western University and Northwood University. He is a member of the Northwood University Board of Governors. In 1995, Passante was inducted into the Automotive Aftermarket Hall of Fame and in 1980, he received the University of Toledo Peacemaker Award, an award given annually to outstanding Business Alumni. Passante was also recently named president and CEO of Brenton Productions.