The Wolf Of Wall Street – Some Scary Lessons In Leadership!


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Wolf of wall street posterLeonardo DiCaprio’s Oscar nominated role playing of the real – time Wolf Of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort is an amazing example of business leadership. OK, it’s not at all a positive example, but I do believe in a weird way, there really are some great ‘lessons in leadership’ for us all there!

If you haven’t seen it, The Wolf Of Wall Street shows how Jordan Belfort, a role model of greed, debauchery, crime and nastiness, manages to create a business with a very clearly defined culture.- unfortunately, at the terrible expense of many, many families tragically losing all their savings.

The culture of his business, Stratton Oakmont is shown to be a very damaging and dangerous one, and in the movie, he describes it like this: “They were drunk on youth, fuelled by greed, and higher than kites.

So, how did he do it? Well, the film suggests he seems to be a great example of establishing an UBER Culture which is Characteristic #5 of The 7 Characteristics of 3D Businesses!. Again, I’m not suggesting it’s a culture that you should be mirroring, but there are lessons there, I promise!

Our research suggests that the key ingredients of an UBER Culture are:

  • Everyone Understands what’s expected of them and behaves accordingly and consistently as a result
  • Systems and processes are Built to reinforce and support those values and behaviours
  • People are Engaged, Empowered and Encouraged to deliver them
  • People are Rewarded and Recognised for doing that!

How does that work in The Wolf Of Wall Street? Here are some of the things that the film highlights that help make this happen include…


Jordan makes it very clear what he expects from his people and what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. Sadly, these behaviours are not particularly pleasant and I would not like to see in my business, but he drives them into the guts of the business, and they completely shape what people do and don’t do!

He and his fellow directors act as role models and ‘live’ these behaviours consistently – and they make sure everyone sees them doing so. This is him giving clear advice on how his people should behave: “Act as if! Act as if you’re a wealthy man, rich already, and then you’ll surely become rich. Act as if you have unmatched confidence and then people will surely have confidence in you. Act as if you have unmatched experience and then people will follow your advice. And act as if you are already a tremendous success, and as sure as I stand here today – you will become successful.”

Build Systems And Processes To Reinforce The Culture…

The film highlights how many of the systems and processes at Stratton Oakmont consistently reinforce the culture they want. These include the regular ‘sales meetings’ where Jordan stands at the front of his team, microphone in hand, firing up his team through to the parties he describes as ”A greed fest with equal parts cocaine, testosterone, and bodily fluids” and scarily, involve ‘dwarf throwing’! Other processes that reinforce this horrible culture, totally wolf of wall streetillegally, are the systems they set up to transfer their millions to secret Swiss bank accounts!.

Engage, Empower and Encourage People…

He works hard on this one! From training them to sell by his “Sell this pen!” training sessions to providing his people with the support, resources and ‘freedom’ to get on and do it! It’s clear that people are encouraged to ‘break the rules’ and find ways of doing so! The result is a team of highly committed, motivated and scarily effective people who would do almost anything for him!

Reward and Recognise…

Jordan financially rewards those that do this extremely well, and those bonuses completely reinforce the (horrible) behaviours he wants! He publically ‘champions his champions’ in front of their colleagues – one example is publically praising one of his long serving staff who has served him well in front of all her colleagues – he even highlights the fact that he took her from a poor single mother to a high earning superstar who wears Armani suits (woohoo!!). He also ‘challenges his challengers’ and gets rid of those that don’t live his way – humiliatingly in front of all his peers!

So, what does this mean for your business? Of course, I AM NOT ADVOCATING that your create a culture of greed and misogyny and it’s worth pointing out there are lots of great examples of positive UBER Cultures – you can find out a bit more about what I’ve written about them in the past below:

Mind Candy (Monsters Inc.)



Amy’s Ice Creams

Ella’s Kitchen



You might want to find out more about the principles of Creating An UBER Culture - you can find out how here with a free E-Book..

And finally, a word of warning! I enjoyed the film – my wife Jill did not! If you do go and watch it be aware that The Guardian described it as “Three hours of sexual and pharmacological excess, wanton debauchery, unfathomable avarice, gleeful misogyny, extreme narcotic brinksmanship, malfeasance and lawless behaviour”

You have been warned!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Andy Hanselman
Hi there! I help businesses and their people create competitive advantage by 'Thinking in 3D'! That means being 'Dramatically and Demonstrably Different'! I research, speak about, write about and work with businesses to help them maximise their sales and marketing, their customer service and their customer relationships.


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