‘Machiavellian Principles…

19 05 2012

Machiavelli believed in success by any means.  He writes in The Prince that “the skill of an individual leader is the key factor in determining the success of a state or enterprise.”  In today’s world, the behaviors, competencies, and responsibilities of the project leader are key factors in determining the success of the project.

The main function of project leadership is clear when Machiavelli discusses conspiracies in The Prince and concludes that “…a prince should not worry too much about conspiracies, as long as his people are devoted to him;”  Project leaders need to create bonds with the project team. People create projects; project plans don’t create projects.

Positive expectations have powerful effects on performance.  The wise project leader makes sure that all team members know that what they do matters. The successful project leader finds ways to express and cultivate positive expectations.

Richard Vetere, a playwright, found the spirit of Machiavelli-style leadership refreshing and engaging. He suggests seven principles as Machiavelli’s advice to today’s project leaders:

1. Anticipate the worst and take action. Risk can never be eliminated, but it can be contained by those who plan ahead and take appropriate action.

2. Reliable allies are those who benefit from our successes. Team up with those who truly benefit from our victories.

3. Free time and work time really are all part of the limited amount of time we have at our disposal to succeed at our goals. Do not squander them, not even during periods of rest.

4. Forgiving those who do us wrong is a mistake. When we forgive those who do us harm, we undercut the efforts of those who are loyal. Punish the disobedient; love the loyal. This was Machiavelli’s perspective. I do not share this opinion, and you may not either. Machiavelli believed that to forgive those who do us wrong was a mistake.  You may find this to be contrary to your own moral compass, and the point he was stressing was that if a project leader was to forgive in the sense of overlooking or accepting poor workmanship, this undercuts the efforts of the diligent, conscientious project team members.  Reprimand when necessary, praise wherever possible.

5. Passion is the best motivator. It pays to seek out people who believe passionately in what they do.

6. Trust enemies above friends for frankness. We can trust our enemies to criticize us when we deserve to be criticized. Friends are often less honest with us.

7. The hard road to the top is often the best. Machiavelli believed that leaders who inherit their success are often more likely to fail than self-made leaders who are forced to learn important life lessons during their own climbs.

So for project leaders, it seems that Machiavelli’s iron rules are as timely and important today as they were 500 years ago.







3 responses

19 05 2012
sa saliw ng awit

Hello, Haribon,

Machiavelli is one of the philosophers who argued his principles very fluently . Thus, I admire him… It must be remembered though that his teachings was formulated at a time when Italy was not yet a country but a collection of separate principalias or feudal kingdoms with the seat of government at Florence, the most commercial fiefdom (and most prosperous trading center in Europe at that time).

His two major works argued for ruthlessness as the core virtue needed by a leader to unify the warring fiefdoms into one country or republic. It is said that they are actually recommendations for the Borgia family ( a formula for dictatorship).

l suppose, if one views the set-up or project as anarchic, disparate and generally tumultuous, yes, the Machiavellian principles may apply and prove to be the solution. However, in cases where things are otherwise or not quite so, perhaps, some other approach to leadership may be employed… It must also be remembered that distrust is the heart of Machiavellian teachings.

Somehow, I am wary of write-ups that takes parts of the teachings of one philosopher and represent them as chewable, little do-it-yourself list. Taken out of its context, a philosophy maybe misused and treated unfairly, I guess. ^^

If the article wants to argue for decisiveness in leadership, perhaps it could have done so without diluting Machiavelli’s teachings. One upmanship and cunning is the Machiavellian style of leadership – the philosopher did not mince his words. Whether we accept that or not depends on our value system, I suppose… ^^

Ahaha, am afraid that this is a handful… Pwede pa kaya akong bumalik uli at mag-comment? 😉 Kumusta na… 🙂

20 05 2012
Haring Ibon

what da!

feeling ko nasaling ko ang iyong soft spot sis. as in!
ang lalim ng pinakunan ng response efforts hehehehe

seriously, someone had been comparing lately this “machi..style” on how Noynoy is managing his presidential post.
like for example, the SC-CJ saga. there was an apparent “using of any means to arrive to the desired conclusion”

and how he distrust anything that has GMA stance on it.

such a broad subject matter… worthy of noting now. in order to analyze later on whatever the conclusion may come.

to learn from it… even from mistakes, if any. 🙂

21 05 2012
sa saliw ng awit

hello! don’t worry, medyo tanda ko pa ang principles ni Machiavelli as I did a paper on his two major works back in college. ahaha, that’s how i knew at once na off ang pagka-rephrase and interpretation ng article sa itaas. the philosopher is one of the most versatile writers in history, i’ll say that even as i do not agree with and uphold his principles. 🙂

hmmn, i do not know if Noynoy is being dictatorial in handling the CJ case, not sure… what i know is, the prosecution has been doing a lousy job of it, haha, when in fact, the accused is devoid of scruples and has really acted contrary to people’s interests and the decency required of his sworn office. ‘yun. ^^

thing is, Noynoy and his administration would really be held hostage by the SC if the prosecution efforts do not succeed. there would be a lot of dead-ends and standstills in policy implementation if the SC is dominated by the justices who were appointed by the previous administration. he’s got to win that battle but i have doubts if the efforts will succeed – farfetched… ^^

hey, the Borgia family is one of the most notorious rulers in the world history. it was headed by a Pope who had a family (and children out of wedlock, even) and who wrecked havoc on so many – thru cruelty, fraud and unimaginable violence. there’s a series in cable tv about the Borgia legacy. 😉

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: