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 What Can Machiavelli Teach You About Business?

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reggie
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reggie


Male Number of posts : 639
Age : 57
Registration date : 2007-07-26

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PostSubject: What Can Machiavelli Teach You About Business?   What Can Machiavelli Teach You About Business? Icon_minitimeFri Jul 27, 2007 2:38 pm

His name evokes corruption, reeks of manipulation, and oozes with
betrayal. And though Niccol Machiavelli did espouse some trickery as a
means to maintain power, his name has been unfairly reviled by history.
He was no less a master of diplomacy and good leadership, and there's
much to learn from his writings.


who was machiavelli?


Niccolo Machiavelli was a diplomat in Florence, a city-republic that
flourished during the Italian Renaissance, roughly 500 years ago. A
shrewd observer of human relations, he quickly rose ranks in
government. But the powerful Medici family seized power, and
Machiavelli was dismissed from his position. Eager to win the good
graces of his new rulers, he wrote a book
called The Prince , in which he outlined the goals of the Medicis and
how they should attain them.
Unfortunately, the book was dismissed by the Medicis and blasted by the
public, who saw in the writings a morally-bankrupt tyrant, even though
it wasn't what Machiavelli believed in. But despite its amoral
politics, the book is nonetheless a primer on power relations and
practically founded the study of political science.
Business being a close cousin of politics, many of Machiavelli's
lessons apply to the world of dollars and cents. You can be a
Machiavellian businessman, in the true sense of the word, without being
Machiavellian, in the popular definition; that is, be effective without
being unethical.

Here's what the Florentine diplomat can teach you.


1- Pay attention to employees
Machiavelli stressed that a ruler must be aware of his subjects' morale
at all times. That way he could make changes or address their
grievances before dissatisfaction became rebellion. It's the same with
managers and their employees. A good business leader has his fingers on
the pulse of his workers and addresses each change.
That means making provisions before negotiations start. For example,
giving unions strategic concessions to disarm them. Henry Ford
understood this. He voluntarily raised the minimum wage of the United
Auto Workers Union, decreasing their effectiveness.


2- Maintain an air of power
Any good leader, to be viewed as powerful, must look the part. That not
only means having a professional dress, but also behaving in a stately
fashion. A good business leader listens to others, but always has the
last word. He has others completing menial tasks for him. And he
associates with other important people.
Think Donald Trump. He always looks stately, has impressive towers to
his name, and hangs out with the A-list of business and entertainment.
He pulls it off so well that one can forgive his hair.
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reggie
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PostSubject: Re: What Can Machiavelli Teach You About Business?   What Can Machiavelli Teach You About Business? Icon_minitimeFri Jul 27, 2007 2:39 pm

3- Don't let others know what you're thinking
Once you become predictable, your power decreases significantly. To
succeed in business, as in a poker game, you must hide your true
thoughts. If people see you coming, you give them time to prepare to
outdo you. Catch them off-guard with your actions. In The Godfather ,
Don Corleone was right to admonish Sonny for revealing an interest in
Virgil "The Turk" Sollozo's proposition. It messed up a deal that
eventually led to Corleone's attempted assassination.

Think Steve Jobs
in a real-world, less deadly scenario. When computers were becoming
dull, beige and predictable, he launched the diminutive and colorful
iMac, which became a bestseller.


4- Appeal to people's passions
To gain loyalty, a leader must often appeal to passion over reason.
Politicians know this, it's why they resort to emotionally-charged
concepts like liberty and patriotism. In business, this is called
marketing. Successful products use publicity, which appeal to emotions,
using happiness, security and acceptance as their main selling points.
Once a customer associates your product with something fundamentally
good, you have gained a loyal consumer.
Why do you think chewing gum sells so well? Its ads promise fresh
breath and therefore social acceptance, playing on two fundamental
human traits: vanity and fear of being rejected.

5- Assume your competitors want to take your place
Machiavelli said that rulers must always watch their backs.
Even the person closest to the king should be viewed with a skeptical
eye. Anyone who climbs the ladder of power, the diplomat believed, is
ambitious and should be presumed to covet the top job.
In business, this applies not only to competing companies, but to
rising managers and major shareholders. To keep your position, you have
to anticipate the actions of those around you and work to disarm them.
But here's the clincher: your countermeasures must be subtle,
understated. Being seen as a tyrant can unravel all your hard work.
This is exactly what got Machiavelli thinking about politics. He'd
observe power aspirants wooing and befriending the king, trying to win
favors while being gracious and polite to other courtiers. In fact,
they were plotting against each other to rise as the king's favorite so
that one day, they might take the highest position they could. While
you needn't be paranoid about it, the failure to observe others can
result in unpleasant surprises.

6- Associate yourself with smart people
A good prince, wrote Machiavelli, must have wisdom in order to
recognize wisdom. That means before taking advice, you have to know
everything about your dominion.
All leaders count on advisers. But no good leader counts only on them.
He has to be the top expert in his industry before he can consider the
opinions of consultants. Only then will he know if the advice is sound
or a shortcut to failure. Word has it that GE's Jack Welch
was surrounded by advisors. He knew when to heed their advice and when
to ignore them. That's because Welch honed a businessman's most
important companion: his gut instincts, refined with knowledge of the
business.
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reggie
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PostSubject: Re: What Can Machiavelli Teach You About Business?   What Can Machiavelli Teach You About Business? Icon_minitimeFri Jul 27, 2007 2:40 pm

7- Work the playing field
Great rulers get what they want because they know how to control the
options, leaving nothing to chance. Before setting out on any venture,
the shrewd ruler ensures the conditions are favorable to him.
Take John D. Rockefeller. The oil tycoon wanted a complete monopoly on
oil. However, if he bought the smaller oil firms one by one, they would
have caught on and worked against him. Instead, he bought the rail
companies, which the oil firms depended on for transport. Once he
controlled the price and availability of the rails, the oil companies
had to bend to his acquisitions.

8- Don't isolate yourself
Machiavelli believed fortresses were strategic mistakes, as they were
places where enemy troops could concentrate their forces. Locked inside
a fortress, a ruler becomes out of touch with the spirit of the times,
never knowing what others are saying about him or even plotting against
him.

A good business leader
avoids making proverbial fortresses by staying visible and interacting
socially, always abreast of the change in morale. He is therefore
prepared for whatever comes at him. Borrowing again from The Godfather
, Michael nailed it when he said you should "keep your friends close
but your enemies closer." Never lose sight of those who pose a threat.

9- Create your own legacy
A man who inherits an empire will always be compared to the former
leader. It's in his best interest to lose the shadow of his
predecessor, Machiavelli believed. To create your own legacy, you must
do things differently; rebel against the old way of doing things, while
keeping what worked.
If your predecessor was great, you must be better. Think of artists who
gain fame by breaking with the precedents of the past. You too, says
Machiavelli, should differentiate yourself from the old.

machiavelli with ethics


As you can see, Machiavellian thought can be applied to business in a
moral and responsible way. No one needs to be trampled upon and no
corruption needs to take place. His ideas are founded on the
understanding of human psychology and how to use it to your advantage.

Politicians and businessmen have long followed his methods and accomplished good things. Maybe you should too.


Resources:

www.emachiavelli.com

The 49 Laws of Power , Robert Greene.
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