I’m always struck about how few people have actually read Machiavelli’s The Prince. All leaders should as least have a working familiarity with this text. They should at least understand the key issues Machiavelli talks about. After all, the Prince is essentially a CEO managing Florence and politics is part and parcel of organizational life.
In our culture Machiavellianism has become a diffuse cliche implying cunning and duplicity… In the volume itself there still some interesting insights. Each semester in my seminar on Organizational Leadership I give my students a simple assignment: Read The Prince and give me 4 quotes that are Machiavellian and 4 that aren’t. Further, I ask: What’s the difference between Machiavellianism as used in a common nomenclature and the notion of Machiavellianism as presented in the book. Where is the overlap between cliche and content?
The long and the short of it is that everyone concerned with organizational politics and leadership should re-read The Prince. Not necessarily for lessons, but at minimum for points of interest and discussion.
For fun and some cliches check out, What Would Machiavelli Do? The Ends Justify the Means by Stanley Bing