Monday, June 11, 2012

Leadership advice from Machiavelli

Some *interesting* leadership advice from The Prince by Niccolo Macchiavelli, based on my twenty-first century interpretation of his recommendations:
  • If a leader needs deposing but is well-loved by his people let someone else depose him first. (Chapter 2)
  • Oligarchies are easier to conquer than tyrannies but tyrannies are easier to rule once you've conquered them. (Chapter 4)
  • Ensure your leadership system is the only one, don't a allow plurality of leadership systems otherwise you'll be easily replaced. (Chapter 5)
  • Be prepared to take forceful action if required. (Chapter 6)
  • A good leader builds his power base slowly and carefully so as to have a strong foundation and a base from which to seize unexpected opportunities. (Chapter 7)
  • If harsh measures are required better to undertake them early in your conquests. (Chapter 8)
  • A wise leader keeps his people happy but dependant on him so that when times are difficult they still need him. (Chapter 9)
  • The defence of your people is paramount, otherwise there will be long term discontent and even rebellion. (Chapter 10)
  • A good leader is a (military) strategist preferring to raise his own troops rather than hiring outsider contractors ("mercenaries"). (Chapters 12 and 13)
  • It may be necessary to appear to have various virtues or to make use of if the circumstances requires, various vices. (Chapter 15) 
  • A successful leader is wise about his commitments, knowing which will have the greatest gain and therefore which to keep and which to neglect. (Chapter 18)
  • A leader shouldn't be hated, it'll lead to lots of trouble in the long run, although to be feared is very useful, when the chips are down people will respect you. (Chapter 17 and 19)
  • A wise leader cultivates good will  ("renown") the people he leads.(Chapter 21)
  • Others will form a good opinion of you if your staff are capable and wise. (Chapter 22)
  • Avoid flatterers, instead surround yourself with a few wise men who will speak the truth, but don't change your mind to often. (Chapter 23)