Netflix’s Emmy-winning drama House of Cards is one of the most binge-watched shows. At the heart of House of Cards is Frank Underwood, a man you hate to love. Notwithstanding his disregard for morals and ethics, Frank offers up valuable lessons .
Success demands a thought-out strategy and an ability to outmaneuver your opponents by thinking several steps ahead.
Frank Underwood, the scheming fictional politician played by Kevin Spacey , is not exactly a role model. Though his character is powerful, his methods are questionable.
House of Cards has been called power-trip porn–and with good reason. Frank is the guy who will somehow convince anyone to do anything, no matter the cost.
The ongoing drama in the plot is one that forces you to become immersed in it’s complexity. It’s a show that makes you question social dynamics, political corruption and business as a whole .
Frank Underwood, the power hungry, smooth talking Southerner, demonstrates the tenacity and drive of a man that knows how to get to the top.
ImportantThe scheming politico obsessed with keeping his post in the Oval Office has few, if any, friends, and countless enemies and frenemies, but viewers actually have much to learn from Underwood.
Can you really get useful business and leadership advice from a cold-hearted manipulator like Frank Underwood? Let’s find out our top five lessons from House of Cards.
Frank Underwood focuses much of his time on forging and nurturing relationships. He understands that relationships matter .
Relationships between individuals and relationships between organizations are what drive success. Develop and nurture relationships.
Frank Underwood is a regular customer at Freddy’s BBQ–wonderful food in a terrible neighborhood. He treats Freddy the same way he does his fellow congressmen. He doesn’t care about Freddy’s pedigree ; he cares about the ribs.
Nobody is below you and respect comes from actions.
WarningDon’t look down on people outside your industry (particularly those who are not-so-technical), as if they don’t understand what they’re doing and are thus inferior.
You must have a clear perception of who you hope to serve.
Successful people avoid the temptation to pander to whatever crowd crosses their path, because nobody likes a phony. Instead, they focus their energy on creating an authentic emotional connection with the people they can relate with most.
The power and fragile nature of relationships is one of the biggest takeaways from House Of Cards.
ImportantIt shows us how relationships can help you achieve your goals but also the negative impacts that can happen from not managing them. It also shows us that relationships don’t just matter in sales but also in the White House.
Eventually, you will value people who are on your side.
Claire and Frank Underwood are husband and wife, and even the most loyal allies for each other. Until the strained relations between the spouses led to the collapse of Frank in the political arena.
Knowledge Is Power
Knowledge is critical to Frank Underwood’s success. Frank doesn’t make assumptions, rather he takes the time to learn the facts and to learn how the information he has gathered can best be used .
You must always pay attention to the fine print. It’s far more important than the selling price.
Take the time to learn about what matters to those around you , to your customers, and your industry. Use this knowledge constructively.
ImportantFrank Underwood’s ability to manipulate people partially comes from the fact that he can engage with them on a personal and societal level. He knows about their lives, their struggles , their particular pain points, and how best to provide something to them.
The smallest details can be the most important, so always see them through. Ignore them, and they might come back to bite you.
Your weaknesses can be powerful tools in the hands of the unscrupulous, and the best way to protect yourself is to know your biggest vulnerabilities and address them.
When playing power games, indiscretions are never a good idea.
Smart leaders know that even trusted friends can sometimes become enemies, and therefore hold their cards close to their vest at all times. Don’t give ammunition to anyone who could use it against you on a rainy day , even if the short-term gain is tempting.
When you need to influence someone, you need to know who already influences that person. Whose opinion do they heed.
WarningSometimes the best route to influencing your “mark” – the person you want to influence – is to actually build rapport with the person who already has influence over your “mark” and get them to do the convincing.
Don’t let your weaknesses be your downfall.
Work at strengthening your weaknesses so that you are not an easy target . As Frank Underwood points out: “Even Achilles was only as strong as his heel.”
Trust Is Earned
You cannot ignore paying back for the loyalty your team shows. Earn your trust by giving them yours and make that the only condition between you and the team.
Success demands a generous nature and the earning of trust.
ImportantSuccessful people don’t expect to be trusted before they have earned it. They give until it hurts, because they know that creating value is the best way to win a person’s trust .
Frank Underwood surrounds himself with people who are ready to go into the fire and into the water for him. But he himself does not remain in debt.
For example, he transfers the bodyguard Meechum from the Capitol police to the intelligence service. This is an incredible boost in his career. In response to the thanks of his subordinate Frank said an important words: “Continue to be useful is the best way to prove gratitude.”
One of the deciding factors of a company’s success is a loyal workforce.
WarningIf executives cannot convince their employees to believe them, it is near impossible to succeed. When an executive demonstrates a commitment to their employees, they will gain the most invaluable asset of all – loyalty.
You can’t purchase loyalty. As a leader you are only as good as the people who work for you.
The quality of their work, their attitudes toward the job, and their successes upholds and even uplifts your stature. Put your energy into making all the people on your team into great fighters in your army .
Nothing Lasts Forever
To improve is to change. To perfect is to change often. Change is critical. Without change it is not possible to meet the dynamic needs of customers and of your business .
Be proactive. If you don’t like how it is going, do something about it.
Frank Underwood does not wait for things to happen, he makes things happen. Without change growth opportunities will diminish.
If you don’t like how the table is set, turn over the table. Success is a concoction of prep and luck.
A good leader will always be farsighted . That is how you prepare the team for the upcoming challenges and hope to ride the tide of success together.
WarningAs an executive, you cannot be afraid to take charge. If you feel like your company is headed in the wrong direction, make the tough decisions to put it back on track.
Success demands honest reflection and transformation.
ImportantSuccessful people don’t stagger through life as a mere spectator. They actively improve their situation every day by confronting their problems without hesitation.
The fact that nothing lasts forever is one that Frank Underwood doesn’t grasp.
He makes unnecessary mistakes because at some level he maintains the illusion of immortality. Arrogance is a fatal flaw . It makes you careless, self-centered, non-compromising, and prone to impulsive action – which in turn can lose you allies, create more enemies, and pave the way for your downfall.
Sometimes, the best option is to wait, until conditions will change.
A firm “no” is a firm “no”, in this situation nothing can be done. Worthily accept refusals . But this does not mean that you need to forget about your goals. When the conditions become more favorable, return to it. And then success is inevitable.
Teamwork Is Key
Frank Underwood is committed to ensuring that those around him are beneficial to his career and progress. In business, an organization’s success isn’t dependent on its idea or product, it’s dependent on the team .
It’s important to have a team that contributes to a common goal and has the right skillset to help get across the finish line.
Frank Underwood recognizes the value that different individuals and different specialties can bring to the table and is constantly ensuring that he’s only surrounding himself with right people.
Don’t let your authority go to your head.
ImportantSet standards of behavior for yourself the same as you do for the other people on your team. Don’t overestimate the sway you yield and even if you have a lot of power, use it with care. Power manifested too strongly can easily transform into arrogance .
Generosity goes a long way and one of the most empathetic leadership lessons you get from House of Cards.
If you want to have influence and be a leader, you need to bring others along for the ride. Open doors for them, guide them up the ladder, and help them gain the skills and experience that can make them stronger assets to your team .
Your job isn’t to do all the work or, worse, micromanage.
Your job is to set a path for your team that helps them reach your shared goals, no matter how ambitious and whale-sized those goals are. You need to set the path and uphold the vision , and also give your team the tools and confidence that can empower them to charge forward.
To keep them energized, you’ll need to provide ongoing clarity and feedback, and back it all up with trust and accountability.
If you want to get leadership lessons as well as entertainment during your spare time, watch House of Cards. The lead character Frank Underwood is a powerful amalgamation of talents, attitude, and skills .
The reason why millions of viewers are glued to the series is that the character sparks inspiration.
WarningWhile Frank Underwood’s methods might be ruthless, you can’t argue with the results of his cold and calculated nature. I feel his lessons could be applied in a more positive fashion for success in your business and life.
The character of a person is determined not by how he or she enjoys victory, but by the way a person suffers defeat.
ImportantSuccessful people don’t flinch if they face temporary defeat. They know that failure is an unavoidable part of the evolution process . Success isn’t reserved for a special kind of person, but it can’t be expected without dedication and a burning desire to excel.
Do not forget that a quick buck is never better than a lasting legacy.
As Frank Underwood builds a reputation that will go down in history, a great executive builds a great company that can weather any storm .
What do you think? Any other tips you can take from House Of Cards & Frank Underwood? Leave your comments in the section below.