The Prince

?“The Prince” originally written for princes and rulers is a book written with monarchies in mind, describing how to rule in all different varieties of monarchies; from dynasties to newly developing monarchies. This book also goes into great detail of how to maintain existing monarchies or how to conquer and keep them under your rule. Older monarchies or dynasties are tougher to conquer and keep because if you cannot win the hearts of the people they will rebel to restore power to their beloved leader they watched grow in front of their eyes.

Once conquered you must remember to have the people be partial to your conduct. You can rule with an iron fist or a soft heart but you must show strength while being sensitive to the people you now rule. This is very important as your army is never as strong as the people you conquer and you will need them on your side when to control you new land. When Louis the XII took over Milan he made this same mistake along with a few others that Machiavelli goes into detail about. When Louis conquered the land he promised the people of Milan that he will be a great leader and that they needed him.

Once in power the people were not impressed and overthrew his rule to bring back their existing ruler. The people of Milan found that the grass was not greener and wanted to get things back to the way they were. Machivelli also speaks about that when taking over a foreign land that is unknown to you, you must move to that land to offset any upheaval. Moving to the land will give the people faith in you as a rule and will let you deal with any discrepancies face to face. If you cannot move to the land you must consider colonizing the land by taking the land from the people and giving to your own.

Colonization will upset the natives but they will be powerless with no land or money from that land. You now have the power to make your colony strong while making your neighbors weaker (thus as the Romans did). If you do not colonize the land or move you will take power away from yourself making this new territory weak opening it up for attack from others. What else make a territory easy to conquer and maintain? If the land is ruled by one King and no Barons or Governors this will make it easy to rule, harder to obtain but once in your power there will be no one else with power to overthrow you.

Taking a territory that is ruled by Barons or Governors is much easier, as someone can be influenced to betray the current ruler. These types of monarchies maybe simpler to take but to maintain them will be difficult because you must appease the person or persons that lead you in the door to conquering this land. It is stated by Machiavelli that once you take this land you must kill all Barons and Governors and quickly restore peace to the people to prevent upheaval. Restoring the peace is crucial when wanting to win the people. Once won over the people will follow your command and accept the new leadership.

One teaching of Machiavelli is that once you have the rule you must have the support of the people, it does not matter how you obtain this support. You may lie, steal and cheat but as long as your people have the false sense of your undying love for them you are accepted as their ruler. In today’s world I have a false sense that we live in what happens now and the past is not relevant. I understand that history repeats itself, however after reading “The Prince” I can find relevance and apply Machiavelli’s teachings to the present.

Governments may have shifted from a monarchy to a republic, but the business world still thrives on this style of teaching. If you are to buy out a company, it is in your best interest to dissolve the current leadership and instill your own. Most businesses are ruled by one leader; the same as a strong monarchy, and then has the trust and faith of others. This trust and faith is built by a monetary value, once this is established the leadership begins to grow and solidify the faith of its people.

If you are to purchase a business that has the faith of the employees you must dismantle the leadership and begin building the faith of the people in your favor. If you were to keep the current leadership intact you will find they are still faithful to the values of the past ownership. To allow this type of thought you will begin to notice that the people will stray from you methods to adapt their own. Instead of having a well oiled business growing machine you will be dealing with anarchy within your ranks.

Finding relevance in these teachings in today’s business world gives precedent that the trials from the beginning of western civilization still hold value. Finding and understanding the teachings of Machiavelli should hold true to anyone that has been placed with ruling a company. Other than the teaching to lie, cheat, and steal you should hold in high regards to the philosophies of Machiavelli. Taking what “The Prince” has to teach in stride, but applying it properly to the present could make any leader stronger, and have the ability to better lead any company to greatness.