The Machiavellian Boss: A Brief on Corporate Machiavelli

Abstract

CORPORATE MACHIAVELLI has over the years, been confined to the doldrums. This is not unconnected with the name ‘Machiavelli’ of the “Nicolo Machiavelli-the end justifies the means” fame which tends to pin every negativity on the name because of the ‘dangerous’ messages and brutish signification of the person involved. Though Nicolo’s treatise was primarily on the principles of statecraft and governance, illustrating his stance with ample examples from the Greco-Roman, Euro-Gaelic and biblical histories, the principles have been extended to rulership and leadership in general and in corporate circles. The Machiavellian Prince is an eclectic personality used to typify the all-important features and attributes expected of a leader. The work is empirical, stressing the necessity of cruel actions to keep and maintain power. It has been considered as,“…evil throughout the centuries, but as most business leaders and politicians agree Machiavelli has only defined the physics of power.”1.In defining the ‘physics of power,’ the book could pass as a chiaroscuro of ideas underlined by the merger of the harsh and the tender for corporate well-being of an organization. It is a blend of the kid’s glove and the sledge hammer, of the carrot and the stick, of honesty and shenanigans, to fashion out an arsenal of incisive management technique, and a distinctive philosophy of leadership. This temperament is aptly captured in the opening of V’s controversial book, The Mafia Manager, a quotation credited to the notorious Italian Mafioso, Al Capone:“You can get a lot more done with a kind word and a gun than with a kind word alone”2The political doctrine of Machiavelli is not averse to craft and deceit as a means of achieving and maintaining power when necessary. In Machiavelli’s world, good and evil are equal when one is in pursuit of power.The aim of this study is to attempt to engage the minds of bureaucrats to be able to brainstorm on the concepts and issues raised in Nicolo Machiavelli’s theories as they affect the corporate world, and to encourage an open-minded approach to corporate management. Our intention is to consider the leadership stance in the workplace vis a vis the philosophies of Nicolo Machiavelli as expounded in his magnus opus, The Prince, and as delineated in The Mafia Manager written by V, an incognito author. We shall of necessity, list specific extracts from the controversial books and pass comments on their relevance or otherwise for effective service delivery and how they have impacted on the art of corporate climbing and corporate management. We shall attempt to show that the Machiavellian principle on governance and statecraft which eschew moral standpoints and emphasize realpolitik is extended to interpret corporate realities and to teach management skills.

Keywords: Machiavellian, boss, brief corporate Machiavelli

Article Review Status: Published

Pages: 39-51 (Download PDF)

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