Saturday, May 21, 2011

Wally and Niccolo

Wally Bock encounters a misquote of our old friend Machiavelli in a conversation about a promotion.


John said...

The Chinese gave a lot of thought to many subjects long before the invention of the internet, so they sometimes came to some interesting conclusions. In ancient China a student once asked his teacher about leadership:

“What do you think of the leader who is loved and respected by everyone in the community?”

“That is not enough,” said the teacher.

“Then what of the leader who is feared and hated by all in the community?”

“That, too, is not enough,” said the teacher,

“The ideal leader is one who is loved and respected by all the good people in the community, but feared and hated by all the bad people in the community.”

Good leadership, it seems, involves selecting the right people and deselecting others.

I like this metric because it places part of the challenge on followers as well as those we call leaders. The personnel manager's challenge is deciding whether or not a candidate will discern those subtle differences among her own future subordinates.

Michael Wade said...


Good point. In my experience, organizations don't spend enough time when selecting personnel. They pay a very heavy price.


Dan Richwine said...

It all keeps coming back to long dead philosophers, doesn't it? Why bother with business courses and management books, anyway? I personally haven't found much outside of the giants of philosophy that I haven't found inside them, and the same certainly cannot be said for vice versa.

And by the by, Machiavelli gets a pretty bad rap, IMHO, by those who have never read him.

Michael Wade said...


Lord Bullock once observed that anything in modern politics could be found by reading Thucydides. The same thing could be said for much of management. You're right: Machiavelli is often misinterpreted.