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Niccolò Machiavelli’s Principles of Management

For a long time, Niccolò Machiavelli was interested in people, generally, as a remarkable political thinker, strategist, writer, and historian. And there are reasons for this. At one time Niccolò Machiavelli was the secretary of the second office in Florence and headed the diplomatic relations of the republic, and also wrote several significant works on military theory.

However, in our time, the name of Machiavelli is also connected with the theory of management, and for specialists in this field, he is altogether the highest intellectual authority, speaking not only as a theorist of social conflict but also as an excellent consultant in management. and today we will try to comprehend why this is so.

Today, specialists such as Richard Hodgetts, the largest authority in the field of management, talk about the four basic principles of Machiavelli which influenced the formation of management:

  1. The power and authority of the leader are based on the support of like-minded people.
  2. Subordinates should have a clear understanding of what to expect from the leader, as well as what he expects from them.
  3. The leader must have an unswerving will to survive.
  4. The leader is always a model of justice and wisdom for his supporters.

In his book “The Prince” Niccolò Machiavelli instructed the ruler striving for success that all his actions should be coordinated, first of all, with the laws of necessity, as well as with the behavior of his subordinates.

A leader can count on success only if he takes into account human psychology, understands the nuances of their way of thinking, moral habits, shortcomings, and advantages. It is critical to consider that in many cases, ambition is controlling the conduct of people, but understanding this is not enough. It is necessary to determine who is the most ambitious, and therefore dangerous, in whose hands power is: those who intend to preserve, what they have, or those who want to acquire what is not yet.

All this is the basis of the following rules, which should guide the leader.

1. Fear is most effective

The most popular question of Niccolò Machiavelli, even today provoking heated disputes among managers, is the following: what will be more effective for the leader – to inspire his subordinates with fear or love? And what will be more useful for him: to be afraid of him or to be loved?

Of course, in the ideal situation, it is best to combine both the motive of fear and the motive of love. However, in real life, it is tough to implement, which means that it will be much more useful for a leader if he is afraid. But to behave in such a way that fear does not become the cause of hatred, otherwise, the leader risks becoming a victim of the heat of passions, from which nothing can save him.

Achieving the necessary result is entirely possible, but only on condition that the leader will remember that in no case should one encroach upon the personal rights of subordinates or their material well-being. To accomplish the desire, the leader can apply any discipline, but it should never touch the property. Machiavelli said that people tend to forget even the death of their parents, but they will always remember the loss of patrimony.

2. Gradual reward and instant punishment

In the process of managing people, using the “carrot and stick” method should be very, very cautious. As a rule, a person will take revenge even for minor insults. If there is strong pressure on him, he loses the possibility of revenge. And if the leader decided to go this way, the punishment should always be as serious as possible, so that any attempts at resistance are stopped at the root.

As for praise and reward, they, on the contrary, should be used little by little, so that the subordinates have the opportunity to evaluate and thank. Any positive incentive should be valued because only in this case they will be effective.

It is necessary to remember that career growth and awards are cherished when they happen in life infrequently. Punishment should be carried out immediately and to a greater extent because the one-time and momentary rigidity will be perceived much easier than if it is stretched.

Also, the “whip” always hurts, and the “gingerbread” is gradually bored so that both feelings can lead to a single result.

3. The Lion and the Fox

The leader cannot be ideal and possess each of the virtues at a time. For this reason, what is important is not what it is, but how its subordinates perceive it. If you use this trick, at that point, the result of the activities of the leader will be significantly higher.

A wise leader must combine the qualities of a lion that is strong and honest, and the qualities of a fox capable of high-quality pretense and mystification, in other words, the qualities inherent with qualities acquired must be combined.

4. Envy and drive

The incentive to progress is dissatisfaction – it is the cause of change. People are by nature such that they want to have more than they have, but are afraid of losing what they already possess.

A person envious of people living better than him, you can say, hates them, making them enemies, even from those who do not know about it. So, over time, the incentive to progress becomes a brake, as a result of which a person turns into an enemy for himself. At this very moment, evil becomes good, and good is applied with evil intent.

Despite the fact that the desire to have more is quite natural, a measure must be in everything. And if you follow this rule and be assertive in your aspirations, not envious of others, then the rest will treat the leader with due respect.

5. Relativity and distinction

According to Machiavelli’s principle of relativity, the means should be selected based on the situation, the result should be evaluated by means, and the situations, means and goals should be correlated with each other.

The principle of relativity is intertwined with the principle of demarcation of the moral and political – the manner of management should not be judged from the position of morality. The leader cannot be moved only by moral standards because management is a sphere of relative, and morality – the realm of the absolute.

6. Cycle management forms

The idea of Machiavelli that forms of management are developing cyclically is also relevant in our time.

The leader should remember at every moment that almost everything in the world, from daily affairs and worries to material objects and forms of management, is subject to movement and circulation. This is the very nature of reality – things just cannot remain at rest. Thus, when someone reaches perfection, after which there is no longer a way forward, he begins to move in the opposite direction.

A pendulum movement characterizes the actions of people, companies-everything – first, they go up, and then they are overtaken by decline. Any person who acts reasonably inherent in the desire for success. But necessity often overshadows the mind, leading it to many things, but things that the mind would not bring.

The leader should know that he can establish a “positive” form of management only for a certain period because nothing can stop it from turning into a “negative” one. Similarly, in human affairs: good deeds can turn into atrocities, and atrocities can take the form of good deeds.

Modern professional managers with such perseverance study the work of Niccolò Machiavelli and try to project his thoughts into the sphere of their professional advantages.

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