Leadership lessons from Machiavelli's The Prince
Written in the early 15th Century, Niccolo Machiavelli's
The Prince is rightly lauded as a classic of literature and analysis. It has given rise to the term Machiavellian, often ascribed to leaders who are cunning and duplicitous. One thing is for sure, this brief and easy-to-read title holds some great quotes, as useful to Dukes and Princes of the 15th Century as to the modern business technology leader. We've taken the very best quotes and attributed them to the issues that today's CIO faces. We'd welcome your suggestions too.
July 29, 2014
1. Understanding customers and users:
"Men who are sketching the landscape put themselves down in the plain to study the nature of the mountain and the highlands, and so to comprehend fully the nature of the people, one must be a prince, and to comprehend fully the nature of princes one must be an ordinary citizen".
2. Why the CFO avoids change:
"It is enough merely not to neglect the institutions founded by one's ancestors and then adapt policy to events."
3. What to do when you're part of the acquiring organisation:
"No matter how powerful one's armies, in order to enter a country one needs the goodwill of the inhabitants."
4. Why the CIO needs to be on the board:
"Being on the spot, one can detect trouble at the start and deal with it immediately; if one is absent, it is discerned only when it has grown serious, and it is then too late. And besides, this policy prevents...territory from being plundered by one's officials."
5. Not everyone likes innovation:
"The innovator makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old order, and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would prosper under the new."
6. First days in the new job:
"He disbanded the old militia and organised a new one; he abandoned former alliances and made fresh ones; and when he had his own alliances and troops he had the foundations for whatever he wanted. Hiero, therefore, had to work very hard to establish his position, but very little to maintain it."
7. Agile over waterfall:
"Benefits must be conferred gradually; and in that way they will taste better."
8. Why the CEO must sponsor tricky change programmes:
"Princes should delegate to others the enactment of unpopular measures and keep in their own hands the means of winning favours."
9. All the best leaders surround themselves with talented teams:
"A prince should also show his esteem for talent, actively encouraging able men to, and honouring those who excel in their profession."