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        Leaderships lessons from HBO’s Succession

        Leaderships lessons from HBO’s Succession

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          HBO drama Succession may be a fictional TV series, but it can teach us some useful leadership lessons in the “real world” too.

          The US satirical comedy aired between June 2018 and May 2023. It focused on the Roy family, who owned the media and entertainment company, Waystar Roy Co.

          The plot revolved around the power struggles and fight for control of the company, amid fears for the family patriarch’s health.

          All four seasons of the series received critical acclaim for their detailed examination of the subject matter, as well as for the skills of the cast and writers.

          The Succession TV series ultimately offered some valuable leadership lessons to today’s business leaders.

          What is leadership in business?

          Leadership is described as developing a vision and then inspiring other people to help you achieve it. It means leading others to transform your ambitions into reality.

          Understanding people’s motivation and guiding them towards achieving a shared goal is a big part of leadership. A skilful leader can achieve a positive outcome for the company, teams and individual employees.

          It means creating an environment that develops colleagues’ skills, enabling them to be professional, effective and productive.

          Different leadership styles

          There are various leadership styles in business. The most common include “laissez faire” leadership, based on the idea that employees have the necessary experience and skills to carry out their work effectively.

          The leader intervenes as little as possible and leaves the team to get on with their work. This makes them feel less constrained and consequently more valued.

          An alternative style, democratic leadership, is when the leader encourages the entire team’s participation. They consult employees, taking their opinion into account before making a decision. This encourages dialogue and improves commitment to the company.

          Transactional leadership is based on a system of rewards. The leader will reward employees based on performance. This inspires them to meet goals.

          There are various other styles, but these three are most commonly used in business.

          What lessons does Succession teach us?

          Succession highlighted many valuable lessons for modern business leaders. First, having a big ego yourself leaves no room for growth.

          The leading character, family patriarch Logan Roy, makes life tough for himself and everyone else by having a huge chip on his shoulder and refusing to acknowledge the strengths of others.

          This highlights the message that ego can get you only so far before it suddenly becomes a barrier to company growth. When you acknowledge other people’s strengths, they can fill any gaps that you might lack.

          The second lesson is that business decisions should be based on logic, rather than emotion. The characters in Succession continually make important decisions purely for emotional reasons. For example, they each have a personal motive to take over the company, but the ensuing conflict and power struggles result in structural and financial damage for the business.

          Had they used logic, life at Waystar would have been considerably smoother. Put your feelings aside and try thinking rationally.

          Thirdly, collaboration is the key to business success – something the Roy family struggled to learn. Logan’s inflated ego passed down to his kids Roman, Shiv, Kendall and Connor. They never presented a united front as a result. There was a constant battle to be top dog, but no family member could achieve their goals without help from the others.

          Bickering about who should take charge of the company when their father was out of action, Roman was positively savage about Kendall – who was best qualified for the job.

          Trying to paraphrase his father, who had already shot down Kendall’s ambitions to become CEO, Roman quipped, “He wished that mom gave birth to a can opener, because at least then it would be useful.”

          Time after time, each individual’s self-serving ambitions put up roadblocks to the company’s success. Take heed; you should foster teamwork and avoid discord if you want to succeed!

          Finally, fear doesn’t motivate the workforce – instead, it has the opposite effect. Logan is well-versed in instilling fear in just about everyone. He seems to enjoy pointing out his children’s weaknesses, leading to a toxic company culture.

          At one point, he speaks of needing a “ruthless firebreather” who will “do whatever it takes” in the company.

          His bullying tactics don’t serve him well and lead to resentment from his own kids. Ruling with a rod of iron in the workplace doesn’t work. It demotivates employees, while leading to a decrease in productivity and low morale.

          Being a “cheerleader”

          In fact, it’s more important to be a “cheerleader” within the business to support your employees. You need to stand with them in times of struggle, as well as celebrating the good times together.

          Work colleagues celebrating success

          This can have a positive impact on employee output. Support from the manager will boost confidence and feelings of wellbeing.

          In turn, this increases the level of interest in work. Those who feel supported and valued will perform better, improving productivity and going above and beyond what’s expected of them.

          Serviced offices: London

          The benefits of working in a professional environment shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to inspiring your team to perform better. Serviced offices allow you to work in an environment that brings people together and helps them thrive.

          Businesses are increasingly realising the benefits of working from a flexible office space. A recent Gallup poll revealed 37% of employees would be prepared to leave their job in a traditional office to work for a company in a flexible environment.

          Encouraging collaboration and allowing flexibility; our award-winning serviced offices in London are suitable for companies of all sizes. Let us look after everything, while you focus on running your business without distractions.



          © lev radin / & © Robert Kneschke /


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