Just over 3 1/2 years ago I wrote a post telling some people in leadership that gang leaders are better than them. It was quite the controversial post, even though no one could go against the premise the way I laid it out.

The Crazy Gang! (IMG_0075b)
Dennis Candy via Compfight

This time around I'm laying out the reason gang leaders are such strong leaders, but I'm using business terms to highlight the points rather than some of the bad things we know about gangs in general. After all, I might be able to make a business case for the leaders within gangs from a business perspective, but knowing that these people will kill without regard, push drugs upon the members of their community, and pretty much terrorize anyone who gets in their way, I certainly can't peg them as paragons of virtue in any normal way.

Let's look at gang leaders as business professionals and the lessons that could be learned from them:

1) Total Visual Access

In most corporations, the employees rarely see the people at the top levels. They might read proclamations here and there, but overall they could walk right by a CEO and have no idea they did it.

When it comes to gangs, everyone knows who the leader is because the leader is going to make sure everyone knows who the top dog is. They dress better, drive a better car, and are always surrounded by a lot of people. They're so well known that even people in the neighborhood who aren't part of the gang know who they are.

2) Fearlessness

If you face every day as it possibly being your last because you know that there are a lot of people out to kill you, there's no way you can't be fearless. Being that way allows gang leaders to make decisions based on taking chances that to most of us would seem to be reckless and ill advised. Yet, they're always looking to grow and make more money, and that never happens if they're always trying to play it safe.

One of the most common things you hear from people who acquire great wealth is that they took some very big risks and made some life changing decisions that, somewhere along the way, someone else recommended they not do. Most of the time they don't make decisions without a bit of research, but at some point it takes a lot of heart and guts to make those bold decisions. Luckily their actual lives aren't on the line most of the time, but every person has that moment when the risk might make them feel that way.

3) Allow Others To Make Some Decisions

the gang
bwrahbwrah jonguh via Compfight

Something most people might have a problem believing is that gang leaders aren't micro-managers. Many times they realize they might not be the smartest person in the room. It turns out they're very good evaluators of talent, and that comes from allowing other gang members to come up with ideas and implement them to see what happens. As long as money's being made, they're not worried about what's going on outside of their specific area of control Of course, if things go really wrong or a lot of money is lost, the consequences could be life taking...

Many times people in management are worried about the decision making of their employees. This happens mostly because they don't take the time to either truly evaluate the people who report to them or don't give them any training outside of the work that's expected of them. You have to give employees the tools they need to succeed and then you have to allow them the opportunity to show you want they can do.

4) Loyalty

Gang leaders obtain the greatest loyalty from others who are in the gang. It takes great loyalty to get others to kill for you, whether it's in the course of business or just as a lark. Colors, tattoos... no matter what it is gang members are loyal to a fault, even if they go to jail for something they didn't do.

In business, it's hard to get real loyalty from the majority of employees unless you're a visible leader who seems to do right by them. Too often it seems like leaders are doing everything for their own legacy more than for the employees or the company. Without the force of true fear behind them, or the "real" possibility of making a lot of money by showing their worth, leaders need to find other ways of earning employee trust and loyalty... and it can be done as people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have shown.

5) Profit Sharing

A reality that most people don't know about gangs that sell drugs is that the majority of front line drug dealers not only make less money than they would if they were working at McDonalds, but they have a higher percentage of losing their lives than soldiers in any war since World War II. So, where does the profit sharing come from?

Remember #3 above? Taking a chance and making a big score impresses the leaders of gangs, so much that they'll usually give a big percentage of the new profits to the person who obtained it. Compare that to someone I know who worked for an organization that he obtained 8 patents for. The companies ended up making multiple millions from his creations but they only gave him a $1,000 bonus.

Every day at most businesses in the country, an employee makes a decision that makes a lot of profit for the organization but all they get is a pat on the back. Obviously every business can't go around giving bonuses to every employee. Still, a bit of recognition, maybe lunch or a plaque would probably be appreciated and garner a bit of that loyalty I talked about in #4.

Did I help get you thinking about leadership in a different light? Don't you want to be seen as a better leader than someone running a gang, other than the reason being you can't kill them? Think about it. 😉