January 2007

Old advice: a Machiavellian primer | Workplace

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Old advice: a Machiavellian primer

by Karen L. Cates, Ph.D.
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The dreadful part about being Machiavellian in the 21st century is historical criticisms of the 16th-century political adviser rub off on you. Condemned by those who have had the short end of the power stick, the deceitful nature of Machiavelli's advice in The Prince has been widely overblown. As a result, valuable Machiavellian leadership philosophies have been deemed too devious for leaders who regard themselves as wise and kind.

To help allay such fears, following are explanations of a few of Machiavelli's precepts to encourage their consideration and use by emotionally intelligent leaders.

Love or fear

Is it better to be loved or feared? The answer, of course, is both! But Machiavelli deems love fickle and says leaders who inspire fear will find themselves taken more seriously. Unpredictable punishments can evoke undesirable apprehension, but justified penalties for real cause hold the true power of fear. In fact, modern psychological theory suggests justified rewards for real cause are...

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