Machiavellianism!!  A Bane or Boon?


Meera Uday
Department of Management Studies
Global Academy of Technology

Indian history is waking up to the challenges thrown by market economy. To survive in this highly competitive scenario, Human resource plays a vital role. "Human Resource" is the vital component of an Organization.

Growing global, liberalization policy, technological advancement, increased competition, privatization are the characteristics of today's economy, which emphasizes the crucial role of managing human resource for the organization's growth and survival and its growing importance.

Managing human resources means acknowledging that the humans in the organization are the most important part. The Human resource approach assumes that no amount of clever work with figures, or the latest technical equipment, will deliver anything unless people agree to work in co-ordination with each other. This is applied to everyone in the organization.

What is Leadership?

Napoleon said "there are no bad soldiers, only bad officers". From this he meant that the quality of Leadership was important for any type of organisation .A successful organisation has one major attribute that sets it apart from an unsuccessful organisation: dynamic and effective leadership. The success of every organisation is dependent upon the quality of its leadership. For example, the Tata Iron and Steel Co. or the Ford Motor Co. would not have attained their present success but for the able leadership of Jamshedji Tata and Henry Ford, respectively.

In a business enterprise several tasks such as determining the objectives of the enterprise, designing the methods to achieve them, directing and coordinating the activities of various departments, etc., can be successfully performed only if there is an able leadership.

According to Peter Drucker"Leadership is the lifting of man's visions to higher sights, the raising of a man's performance to a higher standard, the building of a man's personality beyond the limitations".

A leader possesses different traits. These traits are very important in influencing others for the goal achievement. Machiavellianism is one such important trait which is studied in the research work.

About Machiavellianism .

In the 16th century, Niccolo Machiavelli, an Italian philosopher, wrote The Prince. He wrote about some rules to acquire and use power. For example, he noted "It is far better to be feared than loved if you cannot be both". In essence, Machiavelli wrote about ways to manipulate other people.

Machiavellianism is a Personality trait of a Person. It is related with the concept of acquiring and using Power to manipulate others.

Persons are divided into High Machs and Low Machs, according to their Machiavellian levels.

Who are High Machs: ?

Some of the characteristics which distinguish High Machs from Low Machs are as follows. High Machs tend to take control, especially in loosely structured situations; indeed they prefer such situations.

Who are Low Machs?

Low Machs, on the other hand, like and respond well to structure. High Machs tend to be more logical, rational and pragmatic than Low Machs High Machs are often skilled at influence and coalition building. Indeed, there is probably at east a little Machiavellian in all good Leaders.

It would be easy to imagine some Machiavellian tendencies with Dhirubhai Ambani of Reliance,  as well as celebrated leaders like Lee Iaccoca of Chrysler Corporation and etc.

Managers of a company with a Directive Leadership style and Machiavellianism as a Managerial attribute contribute to the company's success in the current competitive business world.

Machiavellianism is a such a concept which can be used in both the directions of positive and negative. Machiavellianism when used in the positive direction to get the work done by the subordinates and to contribute to the managerial effectiveness is a beneficial concept to both the managers and the organization. Hence there is a strong rationale to study about the concept of Machiavellianism as a Managerial attribute.

Successful companies leverage Human Resources as the strongest of all resources. And so, programmes are focused on reinforcing client centric culture of employees. It is well recognized everywhere that human competency development is an essential prerequisite for any growth and development effort.

Managers play very important role in achieving enterprise objectives. Management is solely dependent on all the managers to achieve its business objectives .This demand of management can be fulfilled only when the managers possess the required personality attributes, necessary to exercise them to achieve the objectives. Among many such attributes, Machiavellianism plays a predominant role as a leadership attribute. The study helps the organization to analyze the Leadership style and Machiavellianism in a better way

Machiavellianism is required for the manipulation of things and people, to a certain extent in the present management scene. Machiavellianism if used in the positive direction, results in the organisational effectiveness.

Organisational success depends on the managerial skills. When people are reluctant to work, Machiavellianism as a Managerial attribute ensures the completion of work.

A research study was conducted in a leading automobile component manufacturing company and certain findings were noted which are mentioned below

Managers of this leading automobile company are categorized under High Machs Group, who are Successful in their respective Leadership styles as shown in the table above. And they exhibit major characteristics of Ideal Leadership.
Machiavellianism Level varies with Managerial Grades, correspondingly.
Senior Managers are found to be more High Machs than Middle Level Managers.

It is found from the survey, that the Middle level managers have relatively lower EQ levels. Hence Emotional control is suggested for Middle level Managers, to improve their Emotional Quotient (EQ).

The importance of EQ is very well understood in the present competitive and global world.

Who can be labeled as an Ideal Leader:?

In the current times of Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation, Leaders have a challenging role to play in the business scenario. Monopoly and dictatorship are the concepts of the past history. Current employees require a Visionary Leader, a Guide and a Mentor.

With the ample job opportunities in the job market, in various types of Industries, Labour turnover is high. Therefore, the current Solution is nothing but Team work , involving the participation from the Managers and Associates to fulfill the objectives of a company. " Lead by Example" is the mantra for the Success.

An Ideal Leader (Manager) therefore is recommended to have concern for his people and concern for the Quality Production. And the Leadership style is recommended to suit the situation.(Situational Leadership).

This clearly indicates that Machiavellianism is a boon to the organisational growth.

Meera Uday
Department of Management Studies
Global Academy of Technology

Source: E-mail June 25, 2008


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