The Godfather

Power, Influence, and Leadership.

The Godfather (1972), along with Part II (1974) and Part III (1990), make great references for the study of organizational psychology.  The Godfather films demonstrated in detail how Vito Corleone started his organization, an olive oil import and trade business in a form of some mafia/gang/organized crime, and survived and prospered the organization through intensive bloody conflicts and power struggle.  In the three movie series, the Corleone family built a successful social ecological system in which they could apply maximum influence to the society.

Like Corleone family’s business, the relationships of business leaders and organizations in today’s global economy can be very entangled and intriguing.  Dealing with such relationship is the play of psychological games; they must be able to figure out how to strategically play competition, cooperation, power balance, and profit sharing.

In the Godfather films, Vito and his son Michael demonstrated great charismatic leadership capabilities.  Charismatic leadership is the capacity to influence group members to contribute to group goals that is seen to derive from the distinctive charismatic qualities of a leader (Haslam, Reicher, & Platow, 2010).  In charismatic leadership, a leader uses charisma or charismatic power rather than position power to attract and influence followers.  Leader charisma has been defined as “the ability of a leader to exercise diffuse and intense influence over the beliefs, values, behavior, and performance of others through their own behavior, beliefs, and personal example” (House, Spangler, & Woycke as cited in Kwak, 2012, p. 56).  The key to charismatic leadership success is to attract and maintain loyal followers because “charismatic leaders need followers that believe and trust in them and their mission” (Sandberg & Moreman, 2011, p. 240).


Haslam, S. A, Reicher, S. D., & Platow, M. J. (2010). The new psychology of leadership: Identity, influence, and power. New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Kwak, W. (2012). Charismatic leadership influence on empowered and less empowered followers’ voice: A mediated moderation model. Journal of Leadership, Accountability & Ethics, 9(1), 56-70.

Sandberg, Y., & Moreman, C. M. (2011). Common threads among different forms of charismatic leadership. International Journal of Business & Social Science, 2(9), 235-240.

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