They come in all shapes and sizes
Teams are where you find them - and just about everywhere you look. What makes them tick? It all depends.
by Corey Hajim, FORTUNE reporter

(FORTUNE Magazine) - Mob rules

Dissension in the ranks. A looming succession crisis. Disruptive competitors and a fast-changing business environment.

Think your team has problems? Consider the challenges facing America's favorite mob boss. Will Tony Soprano's crew figure out how to shake down the chain stores? Will he keep his cut of the construction racket? He gets it wrong, he gets whacked.

But so far, says John Davis, chair of Harvard Business School's family business program, he's doing "pretty good." His goombahs "have been able to stay out of jail, control their territory very well, and they are extracting good profits."

When necessary, of course, Tony is willing to lead by example. Case study: Taking out his cousin who got on the wrong side of the New York crew.

But the key to Management 101, Soprano style, is the artful mix of compassion and violence. When Tony's authority is challenged, he asserts himself by beating up his young driver. Then he pats him on the back and gives him a few bucks. When his nephew, Christopher, admits to a drug problem, Tony sends him to rehab. Tony even refrained from killing Uncle Junior after the old man shot him in the gut.

The personal touch is necessary in his low-tech, low-intellect business.

"Tony's not surrounded by a lot of bright bulbs," notes Richard D'Aveni, strategy professor at Dartmouth's Tuck business school. "If they get too smart, they'll end up as a competitor."

And if Tony can't control his team, there's no such thing as a bloodless coup. Top of page