LinkedIn's Top Stories: Han Solo vs. Vito Corleone -- Who is the Better Leader?

April 6, 2012

Here's an idea for a new game: Would You Rather, The Business Edition. Here goes: Would you rather work for Han Solo or Don Vito Corleone? Pros and cons of Han: Goes out of his way to help you when you're stuck (in a cave with a hungry wampa, for example), but also a selfish boss who shoots first (you're fired). On the Corleone front: Your manager has so much respect that every project you work on gets plenty of resources and support. On the other hand: You quake in fear of ending up on his bad side. The topic of fictional, troubled heroes as leadership icons comes thanks to Forbes and Fast Company, which coincidentally both dug into the issue recently, winning two of the top 5 most-read-story of the week slots. Here's the full list:

Top 5 most-shared articles by LinkedIn members (March 21, 2012 — March 28, 2012) Follow @LinkedInToday

  1. An Offer You Can't Refuse: Leadership Lessons From "The Godfather" (Fast Company)
  2. Bye Bye BlackBerry. How Long Will Apple Last? (Forbes)
  3. Five Career Lessons From Han Solo (Forbes)
  4. The One Skill All Leaders Should Work On (HBR)
  5. 7 Entrepreneurial Lessons From "Shark Tank" (Fast Company)

Perhaps the best way to evaluate these movie icons is through the lens of HBR's Scott Edinger, who says the one skill all leaders need to work on is assertiveness. Fast Company reclassifies that as "decisiveness" and gives Corleone high marks. Sure, Don Corleone "is so ruthless that he kills his own family member. But you still have to respect the fact that he:

[K]nows exactly what he wants, executes decisively, and commands respect through unwavering leadership.

Han? He's assertive, but also unfocused. Forbes says that's actually a worthy trait:

Han Solo's excuse to Jabba was that he 'got sidetracked' when he came across the Rebel Alliance, and was on his way to pay back the villainous slug. Without that distraction, Han Solo would just have been another scoundrel in Jabba's retinue. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook when he was supposed to be going to college. Steve Jobs' exile from Apple gave the world Pixar. Your biggest opportunity might come when you have to ferry an old man and an annoying kid to Alderaan.

This game could go on forever. For me, it comes down to: Would you rather work for someone who has a history of having his workers gunned down? Or go with the guy who marries the princess in the end? Also, Chewie always seemed pretty content.

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