Are you a fan of House of Cards or Homeland? If you’re also striving to climb the ranks at your company, you might take away a few leadership lessons just by watching your favorite shows.
Just like you shouldn’t believe everything you read, it’s wise to not try and emulate everything you see on television. But let’s be honest: the small screen is packed with some real gems when it comes to effective leadership lessons.
Behind many great shows is a boss or mastermind. Characters like politician Frank Underwood in House of Cards on Netflix, gangster Tony Soprano of The Sopranos on HBO and CIA operative Saul Berenson of Homeland on Showtime all consistently demonstrate leadership traits we can all learn from.
Here’s how each boss from these incredibly popular programs shows his mettle day in and day out: (Click here to tweet this list.)
Frank Underwood uses persuasion to influence major decisions
When Frank befriends younger journalist Zoe Barnes, his agenda sets the table to allow her to break stories. Frank provides Zoe inside political information she uses to write viral stories, though every carefully crafted story Frank serves up for Zoe is intended to slant public opinion in a way that will benefit his own personal interests.
Zoe is one of several people who fall victim to Frank’s charm. By having such sway with her, Frank puts his own spin on top political stories consumed by millions of people across the nation.
While this is not the nature of your job, Frank Underwood proves that if you align with the right colleagues at the right time, you can influence decisions that affect many people. That’s something leaders do every day at work.
Tony Soprano constantly projects an image of success
The Sopranos is a show about a mob boss — Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) — with a deep secret; he sees a psychiatrist to deal with the demands of working for the mafia and being a family man. Only his wife, Carmella, knows that Tony sees a psychiatrist — and if that ever became public knowledge it would jeopardize everything. As a result, Tony guards this secret with his life.
As no one is aware of this “weakness,” those in his crew thinks Tony is a sharp boss. Despite his secrets, he demands respect — and he gets it.
No matter what your demons may be, exude the vibe that you deserve to be a leader and you’ll find yourself in the position as one.
Saul Berenson knows he must be a mentor
In Homeland, Saul Berenson assumes different roles of authority for the Central Intelligence Agency. He takes on the main character Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) as his mentee and puts her through nearly more than she can handle when he has her committed to a mental facility. Carrie later discovers from Saul that it was all part of a bigger plan to capture a high-profile enemy.
Hopefully nothing this intense happens at your company, but by putting Carrie through the ringer, he demonstrates the value of teaching the next generation because he knows what he does for a living is so much bigger than just himself.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in a leadership role now
You may not consider yourself to be a leader yet, but now is the best time to start preparing to be one. Since many of us watch several hours of TV every week, the least we can do is glean a few strategies from these types of shows.
Leadership is about having a clear vision and executing a series of tasks to achieve it. The sooner you adopt this mentality, the sooner you can position yourself to be in a role where people are undeniably relying on you for guidance — an ironclad trait of any leader.
Seth J. Carr is a freelance writer and author of Post-College Knowledge: How to Not Suck at Your First Real Job. Follow Seth on Twitter.