A crime boss is more often than not associated with the Mafia, and, common assumptions aside, may be female. The crime boss oversees a “family, ” with a family structure–the Don, or Donna, at the head, with underlings, often family members including siblings and children, reporting up a chain of command. The organization, and the relationship of the boss to the other “family” members is not just hierarchal–it’s feudal, with each member owing absolute loyalty to the Don. Even the language reflects this feudal relationship; Don is Italian, and originally meant “lord, ” or “master.”
The financial relationship between the Donna and her “family” is also feudal. The crime boss takes a percentage, a “cut” from all monies of any member, and then redistributes those funds to garner more loyalty. The loyalty flows in the opposite direction too. Offend a member of the “family” and you offend the Donna, too–and the head of the family will strike back, with the full force of the members. Like any family, there is a tendency for the Don to favor those most closely related in terms of responsibility, and financial rewards.
The command structure will often reflect the families genetic structure too–with the second tier of command, the officers, being those most closely related to the boss. Because the business is a family business, particularly in the context of the Mafia, family loyalties and feuds are inherited too–there are often territorial disputes with other crime families that last for generations. The family aspect means it’s very difficult to step away from the “family” and leave the family crime business. It can be a matter of not just being cast out from the inner circle, but a family member who tries to leave may end up being killed as a traitor.