Let’s continue our look at the leadership process through differing leadership styles. The process that produced leaders was the system of princes with their respective principalities and the means to obtain and maintain their spheres of influence. Machiavelli was a master of the process. His mastery was astute enough to know that differing principalities and princes needed equally different leadership styles.
How one successfully manages or leads followers is at the root of leadership style. The leader must develop enough flexibility to adapt when needed while not appearing so flexible that one senses insecurity. Poor leaders can weaken team work in even the most talented followers. Consider duels and combats involving few men and note how superior Italians are in strength, in nimbleness, and in skill. But when it comes to armies, they do not show up well. This stems from the weakness of their leaders (p.96).
The context and process plays an important role in a leader’s development. Machiavelli in chapters 1-9 describes several scenarios where a prince may take charge of a principality. Each scenario can represent a different situation where the well trained leader/prince adjusts style.
The prince’s authority may have been achieved by hereditary, mixed, under foreign laws, acquired by arms and ability, arms and fortunes of others, evil means, and popular vote. Each situation demands a different style. If this demand is not met, very often the result was a loss of the prince’s power; even death. Machiavelli gives his audience individual game plans for specific principalities. For example, he writes of one hostile takeover situation that a prince should inflict injuries at once and give out benefits little by little (p.43).
In a corporate raid, a company purchases another through a hostile takeover. As soon as the new owners complete the acquisition; they close the company and sell off all the assets. This often takes employees by surprise, since it can happen in a matter of hours (Grabianowski, 2005).
Fortunately, These Types of Raids are Less Likely Today but They are Truly Machiavellian
The prince had to have certain abilities. Gardner defines these abilities as task competence or the knowledge a leaders has of the task at hand (Gardner, 1993). Machiavelli constantly examines a prince’s ability to handle his subjects and nobles. A prince should be a fox in recognizing snares and a lion in driving off wolves (p. 68). Time after time gold nuggets fall from the mine of Machiavelli’s wisdom. Princes should delegate unpopular duties to others while dispensing all favors directly themselves (p.72). Strewn in each chapter are treasures of knowledge. Is it better to be loved or feared, how a prince should keep his word, and how to avoid contempt and hatred are just a few the instructions.
One crucial element for a prince was access to sufficient power and resources to stand on his own when a need arises (p. 47). Can the prince mustard an army of men and provide for them financially? The prince’s security rests on how well he has treated his subjects and the strength of his city’s infrastructure. Looking at the previous hostile takeover example one once again sees similarities in the following. The prince like companies today must incur costs to ward off hostile takeovers. The prince must have a takeover defense strategy to fend against fear. Constant fear of takeover can hinder growth, stifle innovation, and generate fears among employees about job security (Grabianowski, 2005). Machiavelli boils down the two most essential foundations of any state; sound laws and sound military forces (p. 51). His existence depended on strategic military power. The prince-in-chief had to operate as eloquent as a statesman and courageous as general to sustain any length of time in office. Fundamentally, the wise prince constantly grooms his army, concerns himself with gaining favor, and diligently sets to maintain control of his principality.
One leadership style of significance is the manner in which Machiavelli imposes his will on his reader. His assertiveness is hard to see. In fact, he risked being taken lightly when he said, though I judge this work unworthy to be presented to you (p.15). His desire to leave an imprint and his understanding of the political games of his time prompted him to take the humble approach. He continues, nevertheless, I am very confident that because of your benevolence, you will accept it (p.15). In other words, Machiavelli says I am giving you my best even though my best is not worthy of you. Gardner describes this attribute as ascendance, dominance and assertiveness (p.53). This advance was the first step in Machiavelli’s quest to leave his thumbprints on events.
Theme That Could be Utilized for Application in the Workplace
Experience shows that only princes and republics with troops of their own have accomplished great things, while mercenary forces have brought nothing but harm (p.53). In addition to the themes strewn beforehand, the use of mercenaries is a theme that lends itself to the ministry of Victory Outreach. To fully understand my explanation let the following examples be understood. Mercenaries equal church transfers, regular army equals members raised in Victory Outreach (VO), and the Church is viewed as a military force.
Machiavelli says mercenary captains either are or are not skilled soldiers. If they are you can not trust them for they will always seek to gain power for themselves either by oppressing you or oppressing others against your wishes (p.52). Without exception church transfers with skill have undermined my authority. Over time, a conflict of philosophy arises and the mercenary tries to repress my decisions. In my 23 years of ministry this has happened innumerable times.
The lure of mercenary is the very skill that will create trouble in the organization. One example of many; a mercenary brings an understanding of tithing and giving. Tithing and giving finds it beginnings in scripture. Throughout the bible the reader is told that a tenth of the produce of the earth must be consecrated and set apart for special purposes. The patriarch Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek. The most descriptive verse on giving and its effect on those who work in the church is 1 Corinthians 9:13-14.
Don't you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. (Easton's Bible Dictionary, 2006)
Since the tithe is often the sole source of income, the snare is set for the desperate or untrained prince/pastor. As a result of their contributions, the mercenary believe they have a right to tell the leadership how to deal with the membership and operate the church. Even though VO encourages input, decisions in ministry rest ultimately with the Pastor and his or her leadership. Machiavelli declares that control of the troops should be in the hands of princes or republics (p.52).
Another unintended result when a mercenary is brought into play is the loss of the cutting edge of ministry. The mercenary skilled and articulate causes the regular army to relax from their personal responsibility. The Church initially receives a return form the mercenary’s abilities; however trouble lurks. The danger is best seen when under attack. Mercenaries are quite anxious to be soldiers so long as war is avoided, but let war come and they will either desert or flee (p.52). The church transfer mercenary will more often the not leave when the ministry is under attack. If the pastor relies on mercenary giving to budget and mercenary involvement to manage, he or she sets him or herself up for failure. The church’s financial base and ministry leadership must rely on and be built upon regular soldiers.
The Relevance of the Prince to the Study of Strategic Leadership
Human behavior has changed very little over the ages. How one conducts war on the field of battle in ancient Italy is not much different from the battle grounds of the global economy. The Prince served to show that ancient Italian politics and corporate leadership use many of the same leadership techniques used today - albeit minus troop movement and beheadings. Yogi Berra was once asked by a sportswriter while he was serving as the manager of the New York Yankees what was the most important thing in developing a world championship team. Berra replied instantly, Hire world championship players (McCausland, 2006).
In sports, enterprise, and government to be a winner one must hire players who win. The winning players are the strategic leaders who can prepare for the global community. In the same manner that Machiavelli viewed his landscape internally and externally, the strategic leadership must have (2006) a system that places the right people in the right places at the right moment. McCausland has several talking points. When speaking on developing strategies he says development must include the recruitment of quality personnel, experiential learning through a series of positions of increasing responsibility, training for specific tasks or missions, and continuous education that considers both policy and process (McCausland, 2006). The prince in his special way and without exception addresses each talking point. At the very least Machiavelli gives the strategic leader concepts to consider, similarities to appraise, probabilities to avoid, and possibilities to attain.
Machiavelli’s writing is at times self serving. When he says my life is going to waste; I cannot go on this way... Besides there is my wish that these a Medici lords would begin to use me (p.5), one easily sees his motivation. However, at this juncture in his life, his demeanor was that of a man who wanted a chance to serve his country, make a mark on life, and prove his worth. Is this not the same motivational factors culled at present in the every major institution of higher learning? Machiavelli’s attitude seems appropriate, praiseworthy, and inline with any person of the 16th or 21st century who strives towards a strategic leadership position.
Machiavelli, N., & Wootton, D. (1995). The prince. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub. Co