5 Business Leadership Lessons You Can Learn From HBO’s ‘Succession’

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If you’ve tuned into Succession over the last five years, you’re probably wondering how we managed to gather leadership lessons from one of television’s messiest, most malicious families. But when has SBP ever shied away from a challenge? With the show’s fourth season now finally on the air, we put our heads together in a very non-Roy-family way to define the skills any corporate executive must have to succeed in the real world. Need a brief synopsis before digging in? Indulge yourself in a 12-minute recap of seasons 1-3 here

1. Collaboration is key to success...

…and it’s not one the Roy family has yet mastered. Despite being worth an approximate $18 billion in the show, patriarch Logan Roy faces consistent roadblocks due to an inflated ego and selfish greed. So it should come as no surprise that his kids Kendall, Shiv, Roman, and Connor conduct themselves in the exact same manner — whether they’d admit to it or not. Each episode demonstrates a total see-saw of power, but it’s clear that no family member can achieve success without help. In fact, we see time and time again how each character’s pride and self-serving ambition hurts the success of Waystar. Take this as a sign to foster a culture of teamwork rather than discord.

Photo courtesy of Hollywood Reporter

2. Make decisions based on logic, not emotion. 

Let’s be clear — the Roy family is fictional (although the real-life Murdoch family isn’t far off). Logan and his potential successors are making impactful, business-altering decisions based on emotion, but this isn’t a tactic you’d want to carry into the real world. Each character has personal motives to maintain power and/or take over the company, resulting in both fiscal and structural damage — but what if they replaced that emotion with logic? The sailing would be a whole lot smoother at Waystar, so learn to cast aside your feelings and guide the ship with rational thinking instead.

3. Shed your ego to make room for growth. 

Like we said, Logan Roy finds it nearly impossible to shake the chip off his shoulder. So when the going gets tough (TBT to when he almost died in season 1), he makes it even tougher for both himself and everyone around him. Seems pretty counterintuitive, no? As a leader, there’s perhaps nothing more important than acknowledging other people’s strengths and allowing them to fill the gaps where you lack. This leads to — surprise! — growth, which in turn leads to success. Ego can only get you so far in the corporate world, until one day it stops serving you and implodes right in your face.

Photo courtesy of INC

4. Instilling fear doesn’t result in motivation.

If there’s one thing Logan Roy is an expert at, it’s instilling fear. Sure, we can be honest and say that his methods did earn him billions of dollars, but it only engendered a company culture of secrecy and toxicity. Logan finds joy in pinpointing his kids’ weaknesses (dad of the year, huh?), and if you’ve watched the show, it’s obvious this tactic hasn’t served him well. This season, we’re going to see a continued struggle for power as Kendall, Shiv and Roman team up after years of sibling battle to overtake their father. In this case, fear did motivate — but not in the way Logan intended.

5. Have a plan to hand over the reins.

If there’s one major takeaway from this show, let it be this — always have a plan for the future. When Logan laid on his assumed death bed in season 1, sh!t hit the fan. Everyone began grappling for power with no clear course of action, giving rise to absolute mayhem within the Roy family. Logan never had a plan for who would take over, so once his kids got a taste of what could be, there was no turning back. As a CEO or founder in today’s day and age, naming a successor should be step #1 on the path to success. Take it from the Roy family, alright?

Photo courtesy of CN Traveller

Succession, leadership, real estate — whatever it is you want to discuss, just know we’ve got the gift of gab. Shoot us an email at [email protected] and let’s chat.

*Featured image courtesy of HBO.

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