Niccolo machiavelli


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What Project Managers can lear n from Niccolo Machiavelli?

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Niccolo machiavelli

  1. 1. Fachhochschule DortmundUniversity of Applied Sciences and ArtsEuropean Masters in Project ManagementWhat a Project Manager can learn fromthe book “The Prince” byNiccolo Machiavelli?Author: Ujjwal Kumar JoshiDate: May 2, 2013
  2. 2. Introduction to Niccolo MachiavelliNiccolo di Benardo dei Machiavelli, a Florentine politician, diplomat, philosopher, historian andpoet, was born in 3rdMay, 1469 in Florence, Republic of Florence. In present world, his namesymbolizes Power Politics and “Machiavellianism” resembles political ideologies, objectives andtheoretical conception of the rulers.Political Power is a form of international relations in which self-governing entities protect their owninterest by threatening one another with military, economic or political aggression. It is essentially away of understanding the world of international relations. Nations struggle for the entire world’sresources and it is to a nation’s advantage to be noticeably able to harm others. It prioritizesnational self-interest over the interest of international society or other nation. Some of thetechniques of power politics include conspicuous nuclear development, blackmail, the massing ofmilitary units on a border, buck passing and so on.The political or the practical philosophy of Machiavellianism, posing as political realism considers thefollowing:• Of full power, enforced with violence• Uncontrolled use of power• The limited power purchase of the respective rulerWhat a Project manager can learn from “The Prince”?Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) wrote a famous book “The prince” which was highly influencingand powerful to demonstrate the personality and traits of the real prince during the Renaissance. Hisadvices through his writings to be the successful leader of the territory was politically influenced andwas focused on the power based leadership. “Prince” (the actions of the great men) who used topossess all the power of their territory was a responsible one to rule his land and was given amanagerial position.Niccolo Machiavelli described himself as an Analyst, who has acquired knowledge of the actions of agreat man from a long experience of contemporary affairs and a continual study of antiquity. Thus,he condensed his valuable personal experiences of politics into “THE PRINCE”. Through his words in“THE PRINCE”, the leaders can learn how to acquire power and resist aggression in order to controlthe sub-ordinates. He had stated a pessimistic view of his fellow man as,“Men are in general ungrateful, fickle (indecisive), false, cowardly, covetous (jealous), but as long asyou succeed, they are entirely yours.”According to this statement of Niccolo Machiavelli, a project manager should learn to tie a group ofpeople in a team by bounding them with certain rules and regulations. He/she should set certainobjectives and make others to follow him/her to achieve the success. On the other hand, a projectmanager must guide his/her team members throughout the misconceptions and other problemsencountered during the project. Thus, a project manager can learn Leadership process.
  3. 3. Since management is related with the organizational process of managing people, resources andsystem to accomplish the objectives. A Project manager is a person with all the responsibilities ofgetting the project’s objectives fulfilled. There are various frameworks of project management andcomponents to demonstrate different traits of project manager (such as technical skills, behaviouralskills, and contextual skills) which is very important to be effective leader of the project.Project comprises of various tasks and activities, diversified people, different situations, varieties ofuncertainties, and so on, where a Project manager has to show his/her skills and abilities to drive theProject towards its success. After going through the book, “The Prince”, which is focused on strongleadership traits, it would be helpful to implement some recommended suggestion for the projectmanagement purpose:Behavioural Competences“Prince should imitate as a fox to be cunning and lion to be strength”Niccolo Machiavelli suggest that a Leader or Project Manager should be always as strong as a lionand as cunning as a fox because he/she is the one who is going to lose or win his/her position andshould be strongly focused to close concerned with the environment. He/she should be able toanalyse strength to overcome the weaknesses and explore the opportunities and grab the best tomitigate the threats. Some-how it helps to develop situational analysis which is very helpful tool forthe project managers.Time management“One should not ‘enjoy the benefit of time’ but rather the benefit of one’s virtue and prudence,because time can bring evil as well as good”The important note for the project manager to learn from the book is to consider time as valuablefor the project success because of uncertainty related with future. The project manager shouldutilize the opportunity of doing best with proper time management. He/she should be always readyfor challenges with time efficiency.On the other hand, Project manager must analyse and prioritize the project activities and must knowthe degree of urgency of the project activities that could, in future, lead to the entire project failureif not conducted at appropriate time.Change management“Reforming an existing order is one of the most dangerous and difficult things a prince can do.”This statement states that a Project Manager should convince his/her project team during thechanges in the project activities. As we know that, people are naturally resistant to change. So,during the changes in any project activities, a project manager should provide some trainings andinformation to his/her project team in order to make them to accept the change.A project manager should deal with the changes that could be aroused during the project execution.He/she should convince all the team to accept the changes as the changes are for innovation. If
  4. 4. he/she is not able to do so, the team members may deviate from the project objectives or lose theirinterest and also the project may be lead to a opposite path bringing the complexity in the project.Developing and enhancing individual skills and resources give a secured successIt is important to identify, analyse and enhance the own skills and knowledge rather than luck gives ahigh tendency to achieve success for a long-term position. Project managers who are comprised ofinherent endeavours and tend to put their effort to develop their knowledge are always appreciatedby the stakeholders and are closely connected with project success.Stakeholder Analysis“Machiavelli advices monarch to have both internal and external fears and to keep the peoplesatisfied”As a project leader, one should identify, analyse and prioritize the key stakeholder associated withthe project. Stakeholder could be internal or external. They are really important part in the project.Project manager is responsible to create the harmonized situation to minimize the conflicts and togenerate positivity towards the project. They might bring both positive and negative value in theproject so they need to be deal with properly.Trust-worthiness“A prince should appear to compassionate, faithful to his word. But his disposition should be suchthat, if he needs to be opposite, he knows how.”As stated in above saying, a project manager should be able to keep his promises among the teammembers. He/she should convince his/her team members on the basis on evidence and otherproofs. Moreover, there should be trust-worthy working environment among the team to createsynergy for the success of project. He should possess convincing ability to achieve their support forhimself/herself.Developing Project as a Principality“A self-sufficient prince is one who can meet any enemy on the battlefield. So, he should have soundlaws and strong military forces.Unlike the prince, project manager should also take a project as a principality to rule over it in orderto get effective result. He/she should arm his project with proper allocation of resources, and pre-planned force to win the project success. He/she should be able to accept any kind of challenges andface them with his/her own tactics along with the support of team members so that it would addvalue to the project objectives.Fitness (Physically and mentally)“The two activities Machiavelli recommends practicing to prepare for war is physical and mental.”
  5. 5. Project management is not only about the skills and knowledge but the ability to implement thoseacquired skills and knowledge with consistency. So, it is important to learn that to get the effectiveresult one should be healthy with both fitness (Physical and Mental). Project managers should beencouraged mentally to maintain his/her consistency in the areas of managing projects.Risk management strategyMachiavelli compares fortune to a torrential river that cannot be easily controlled during floodingseason. In periods of calm, however people can erect dams and levees in order to minimize itsimpact.As explained in “THE PRINCE”, there are various risk mitigation strategies that is important for aproject managers to take into consideration for a proper management. So, like in a book prince weresuggested to create some strategy and tools to control the uncertainty as much as possible which isuseful for the project managers to mitigate the risk associated with the project.Machiavellian personality (To assess traits and personality of person)The development of this model to relate with the human psychology and to identify and analyse thebehaviour and personality of the person was influenced by the book “the prince” written byMachaivelli. Christie and Geis defined and categorised the elements to differentiate the nature ofhuman with two perspectives:High Mach Low MachResistant to social influence Susceptible to social influenceFocuses on Task Focuses on personInitiates and control structure Accepts and follows structureHigh Mach as a project manager possess following qualities:1. Commanding2. Straight forward3. Problem solving abilities4. Negotiation skills5. Communication skills6. Self-assuranceAs a Project Manager, he/she should be committed towards the project activities. Sometimes, it ispreferable to be diplomat but, as a leader, he/she should be always focused and straight-forward fora rational and wise decision. There are various problems associated with projects, which should beidentified, analysed and solved systematically. The abilities and potentialities, as a problem solver,are the qualities for a successful project manager.Besides these, a project manager should act as a Mediator to maintain the level of understandingand harmonize the situation with effective negotiation and communication with all the stakeholders
  6. 6. of a project. His/her interpersonal skill is a weapon to boost up his confidence and give himassurance to accomplish his/her objective.In conclusion, the book “THE PRINCE” can be considered as a framework for the projectmanagement, which can be taken as guidelines for influencing and motivating the potential projectmanagers. While going through this book, we found the above mentioned dimensions that theproject manager should consider and emphasize to be successful.References
  7. 7. of a project. His/her interpersonal skill is a weapon to boost up his confidence and give himassurance to accomplish his/her objective.In conclusion, the book “THE PRINCE” can be considered as a framework for the projectmanagement, which can be taken as guidelines for influencing and motivating the potential projectmanagers. While going through this book, we found the above mentioned dimensions that theproject manager should consider and emphasize to be successful.References