Leadership Lessons from SAMCRO

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A few weeks ago we stumbled across a “Sons of Anarchy” season seven marathon on satellite TV that was airing in preparation for the series finale. I admit that the popularity of the show and the storyline were completely unknown to me, but one episode in, I found myself glued to the screen wondering what was going to happen next.

To be clear, this is not an endorsement of or commentary on the 7 year series, but merely a few thoughts that invaded by consciousness while I watched (I have subsequently purchased the first 6 seasons). Leadership Lessons from SAMCRO

SAMCRO, the sons of anarchy motorcycle club, reside in the town of charming and make their living ostensibly by dealing illegal weapons. They look out for their town by keeping the townsfolk safe from intruders and by ensuring all illegal activity takes place outside of the town limits. As I watched I realized that there were some fairly profound leadership truisms underpinning the storyline of the series. Here are a couple:

Leadership Exercised in Private is Isolating

Clay is the club president and presides over the activities of the organization. While the club is asked to vote on a regular basis when it comes to serious decisions, Clay clearly calls the shots. As the first two seasons unfold, we watch Clay make increasingly difficult decisions which make little sense to the club members, primarily because he doesn’t share all the information he has, and has used to make the decisions. As a result, Clay becomes increasingly isolated from his club and at the same time, causes his leadership and motives to be questioned.

The same is equally true for leaders in legitimate business activities. Without a doubt, the more information that can be shared the more buy-in and engagement is possible with the team. Understandably, leadership is not always a democratic undertaking, but when exercised in private it becomes an isolating experience.

No Accountability No Leadership

What is good leadership – As a result of a miscalculation, Clay and “Tig” carry a secret that threaten to destroy the MC. As the story unfold, more and more people are accused of something they did not do, and are being held accountable when the “buck needed to stop with Clay.” Leadership requires accountability. No accountability no leadership.

Again the same holds true for leaders in legitimate business activities and accountability at work. If we hold that leadership is not always a democratic undertaking, and that difficult decisions need to be taken, we have to hold those accountable who make those decisions. What Does Accountability Mean? True leaders step up and take accountability when it is required. As with Clay, when leaders allow others to be responsible for decisions they did not make, they lose credibility and the teams respect.

How are you exercising your leadership responsibilities – In private, or with the desire to share as much as possible? And what is your accountability quotient? Team respect and support requires it to be high!

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After 20 years of progressive leadership within the Canadian Public Service, as an executive and thought leader, Bruce has turned his attention to full time writing, speaking, training and business advisory services. Focusing his work on his long term passion for leadership development, has led to an ongoing focus on exploring current leadership topics through his leadership blog TheModernLeader.ca, and his newly released book - Leadership Hack: Leading the Millennial Tribe. Bruce holds two masters degrees, along with a professional designation in project management. Bruce calls Ottawa, Ontario Canada home, where he shares his life with his wife Susan, and his two university aged daughters.

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