In the vein of my previous TV tie-in posts, this piece about the Sons will contain no spoilers - only a lot of reasons to go catch the final season while it is live. You have been warned, kinda. Sons of Anarchy, the hit motorcycle drama that roared to life on FX in 2008, has kept audiences high on their hogs for now seven seasons. The Men of Mayhem have given us many years of useful information, from managing an ever expanding network of interconnected departments to running contraband of all kinds across every border imaginable. Hell, sometimes when I watch the show I think to myself 'hey, you could totally ride a motorcycle.' Now, I absolutely could not ride a chopper, I can barely ride a bicycle, but such is the educational nature of the show. But as I got myself caught up and into the final season of this gritty and heartfelt biker drama, I began to note a series of lessons that, if polished up a bit, could be used to help any company go legit. In honor of the Sons, here are 7 corporate lessons from SOA:
Respect the Cut
Invest in corporate swag - it sounds like a silly thing to focus on, but there is a deeper importance than just owning flashy gear. Having enviable items like well made jackets, hats, and badges allows people to represent their company with pride. Like the MC has their cuts, you want your employees to be able to sport corporate gear with pride, and you should want them to look and feel cool doing it. A unified piece of apparel gives a sense of cohesion and connectivity to those wearing the item, signaling to others your strength as a group. Be the team to beat at your next corporate event and get some good swag asap.
Take me to Church
One of the most persistent elements of the show is the internal democracy of the club. Whenever a decision is needed that effects the whole crew, the issue is taken to the table and voted on in the presence of the reaper. To follow suit, make sure you create a corporate culture that supports frequent meetings and check ins. The sons are always stronger when they work together towards a common unified goal, and they're at their weakest when they go rogue and operate unmonitored. Waiting a whole year to reconvene on important issues would leave the MC rudderless in attempting to maintain the balance in Charming, so take a page from their book and ditch annual reviews - hold church more often.
Make things Whole
The MC goes to great lengths to ensure their members are taken care of, and that each individual person is taken care of in the entirety. More like a family than a gang, the sons provide for the health and wellbeing of each person, addressing issues as they arise and doing right by each brother at the table. Similarly, corporate compensation strategies need to provide good benefits, ones that are tailored to the specific employee. Take the personal route, and you will see the same loyalty and camaraderie fostered within your office.
In SAMCRO, everyone has a role, and they stick to it throughout. The MC stands as a poster child for the power of a cohesive team, one in which every member is dedicated to doing their part and helping their brothers earn. You may not be running guns or moving narcotics (fingers crossed, you need to think about going legit if you're still in with the Cartel), but your team certainly needs to have the same rounding out of strengths and weaknesses, and the same dedication to profiting as a whole. No one member of the club is more valuable, and none of them can earn alone - inspire your team to work together towards the common goal of success and prosperity, and watch the performance grow.
The MC knows the importance of recruitment; every season's action sees the number of original members dwindle, as the reaper collects on the harsh realities of the outlaw life. But invariably there is a stable of fresh faces vying for these spots at the table, and the sons are always on the lookout for riders of loyalty, tenacity, and character. Employee turnover is a hard reality for every business, but if you're bringing in new blood and training them well you're likely to foster the same sense of camaraderie that you'll see on SOA, a trait more valuable than anything.
Jax Teller walks the unlikely line of MC president and loving father, and while this may seem like an incongruous duality for any man, he is able to pull it off by virtue of one simple reason: the club maintains a truly inspiring work life balance. Members are consistently encouraged to be with their families, and any personal issues are promptly addressed and easily dealt with because the crew is so accomodating and understanding. You can replicate the trust and loyalty this breeds by mirroring the show, and creating a culture where work-life balance is important.
Love the Ride
Finally, and maybe most importantly, you need to enjoy yourself out there - whether you are setting up the corporate roadmap or setting out on the open road, the sons can teach us a few lessons about enjoying what we do for the sake of doing it. The MC might be classified as a gang by a RICO case, but there is a reason they are a motorcycle club first; they love to ride. Every moment of every episode is a celebration of people living a lifestyle they cherish, and doing something they love - we should all strive to reach that level of engagement and enjoyment in our day to day.