GotfatherSales managers can take a few lessons from Don Corleone’s leadership style.

How many times have you seen The Godfather films? If you’re like someone in my house, a conservative estimate would be about 50. A sure sign of a really great film is that it’s filled with lines you know by heart and lessons you can apply in your life. Yes, I’m still talking about The Godfather. But stay with me for a minute.

Don Corleone (the Godfather himself) might not have been a nice guy, but he got things done. He knew how to anticipate conflict and address it. And he knew how to make tough calls.

What if we could use some of his insights to manage our sales teams? Granted, we’re not going to kill anyone (even if we do think about it from time to time). But most business leaders could stand to learn a thing or two about conflict resolution.

In the Harvard Business Review blog, “Nice Managers Embrace Conflict, Too,” authors Ron Ashkenas and Lisa Bodell write:

Finding the right balance between the need to deal with conflict and the instinct to avoid it is one of the toughest challenges that most managers face. While most realize that allowing unbridled conflict can create a toxic atmosphere with low morale and high turnover, they often miss the fact that not enough conflict can be just as damaging. When people hesitate to speak up about poor practices or processes that don’t make sense, it creates a significant amount of unnecessary complexity and fosters a passive acceptance of the status quo.

So how do you encourage constructive conflict among your sales team? For starters, Ashkenas and Bodell suggest quoting Don Corleone: “It’s not personal, it’s business.”

Read the rest of this article for more contrarian management strategies. My favorite: “Recognize employees who question the status quo.” They’re the ones who will come up with ideas we never considered—creative, relevant, and actionable insights that help our companies innovate and grow. And they’ll be glad to lead the charge.

Plus, for more on sales management strategies that work, check out my new book, Pick Up the Damn Phone!: How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal.

Comment Here

When has conflict led to growth or innovation in your organization?