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Few historical figures are as polarizing and divisive as the Italian diplomat Niccolo Machiavelli. In 1531, he wrote his most celebrated work The Prince, considered to be the first seminal text in Political Science. The fact that this Renaissance philosopher’s work dates back more than 500 years hasn’t blunted its impact or controversy one bit.

While some critics view him as a father of modern materialism, others, however, perceive him as the world’s leading great realist and a positive influence on modern politics and capitalism.

Leadership Lessons from Machiavelli


The subsequent paragraphs below, highlight some of the business and leadership lessons from the great philosopher and his seminal work. Here’s a look:

Lesson #1

Leaders and companies must keep reinventing themselves

“Whosoever seeks constant success must change his conduct with the times.”

These lines from The Prince, are as apt as they can be even today. Leaders and businesses aspiring to taste constant success must be adaptive to a fast-changing world to avoid a corporate or political desire. Adapting to a new global and changing technologies is something that all leaders and businesses should consider. The more resilient they, are, the simpler it is for them to perform better. Reinventing strategies with time is the key to a successful business and a trait of good leadership.

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Lesson #2

Business is a war; crush the competition; completely

“A prince must have no other purpose, no other thought, nor take up any profession but that of war.”

Rising in business is just as similar to winning a war by crushing your enemies. In business, your competitors are nothing but your enemies. You would anytime want to stay ahead of them at any cost. It is nothing but ‘corporate war’. Lie, deceive, be cruel and ruthless wherever necessary. Crushing the opponent is required if you want to stay ahead in the competition and build an excellent reputation within the market.

Lesson #3

Look for opportunities even in obstacles and make the most of it

“Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and can turn both to their advantage.”

To succeed in the business industry, it is important to look for opportunities even in obstacles. Successful leaders are not only optimistic but are also adept at finding opportunities in obstacles. Great leaders understand that hindrances are but part and parcel of businesses and must be endeared and challenged to be overcome.

Lesson #4

Having the best hires in your team works wonders

“The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.”

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Being a strong leader implies that the person knows how to hire the best of the talents. Once the best talents are already present, it will make the functioning of the business much smoother.

When great ministers surround a great ruler, the kingdom becomes one of the best places. Similarly, if a business leader has the best hired under him, it will become much easier for him to reach the zenith of success.

Lesson #5.

Never isolate yourself in the world of business

Separating oneself in the world of business is one of the most dreadful things to do. Just as a prince should never isolate himself from his kingdom, the leader also must never confine himself in the world of business. Enjoy being acquaintances with all, even your competitors, and this is how you will get to know subtly about their strategies and thereby know, which is the next move you should take.

Lesson #6

Make friends with influential people

“As Prince cannot better being hated by someone… they ought to endeavour with the utmost diligence to avoid the hatred of the most powerful.”

Once you become successful in business, you tend to make new enemies. While you should consider them as trophies, never even incur the enmity of powerful people. Machiavelli advised that it is always good to remain friends with influential people as it will come to your advantage at some point or the other, especially when you are in business.

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Lesson #7

Be good and do good. Sometimes!

“Therefore it is irrelevant for a prince to … look compassionate, honest, humane, upright, religious and to be so, but with a mind so confined that should you need not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite.”

Keeping up and maintaining an image within the corporate sector is highly essential especially for a leader.  It is often seen as a good leadership quality. Despite being cunning and ruthless, a business leader must now when and where to draw the line and of course sometimes do good for his employees. When you succeed in business, always give back. It will enable you to win public affection with your messiah like gestures and build emotional capital for yourself and your brand.

A Machiavellian leader must be shrewd enough to be an innovator and capable of creating new leadership strategies, thereby, ensure not a significant business growth but also a good image for himself.

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