Leaders techniques Sample Essay.
Good and Evil
Leaders use different techniques to achieve conquest of their subjects and earn their trust. While some individuals use the strategy of fear to rise to positions of power, others use charisma and persuasion to advance the fondness and the trust of their subjects. Although no leader is favored by all those they lead, there are several qualities that are fundamental to all those who aspire to hold positions of leadership. Of these, virtue is of utmost importance. Virtue enables a leader to inspire their subjects and motivate them towards a common goal while garnering their admiration. On the other hand, vice achieves fear and threatens those opposed to a given style of leadership. In his book the Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli explores the qualities of a leader and how they should balance between good and evil to maintain their rule. This paper seeks to critique Machiavelli’s philosophy on his perspective of a good leader.
Machiavelli explains the balance of the characteristics that make or destroy a leader by revealing that one should learn how to balance virtue and bad deeds in order to win over the subjects. Machiavelli portrays an understanding of how good and bad governance may occur in different settings. Machiavelli brought in a new view of politics in a world that had been predominated by Roman and religious literature about politics and governance. Because Machiavelli’s philosophy was from a realist point of view, free from the influence of the church and prior Roman influence, Machiavelli’s explanation are point more to the contemporary understanding of political philosophy. Because of this basis, many researchers have termed Machiavelli as the father of modern political science. Additionally, Machiavelli seems to take a more factual and realistic approach to politics rather than the conceptualizations of the philosophers before him. The direction of thought by Machiavelli is different from the expressions by Plato, who idealizes a perfect city, and is far from Aristotle’s fancy for a desirable, livable city (Smith, 44).
In agreement with Machiavelli’s philosophy, I believe that there are good and bad leaders. Those that are adored by their subjects and those that are loathed to the point that they spur revolt among the subjects. However, Machiavelli appears to argue in support of the medium leader, who balances good and evil as a means of maintaining their rule. This approach is quite flawed since it contradicts the view that a good leader should always act in the best interests of the subjects. Injecting evil into one’s style of a leadership in order to remain in power is a malicious way of forcing oneself to subjects. Machiavelli further poses the question whether a leader should strive to be feared or loved. Instillation of fear among subjects is a desperate measure of countering dissent and in most cases it causes harm to one’s subjects. A benevolent leader should be both loved by his people and respected as well, rather than feared. Achieving this does not need to be accompanied by evil deeds that hurt one’s subjects. In my view, a good leader should be feared by his enemies outside his or her territory but adored by the people that he or she leads.
Machiavelli proposes certain characteristics of a prince in his philosophical writings. Some of these characteristics are of good virtue while others are for malice and greed. For instance, Machiavelli indicates that a prince should rather be stingy than generous, only giving out when it is extremely necessary to maintain dependency of his subjects. He further points out that a leader should be cruel rather than merciful. With this regard, a prince should only keep promises only when it is extremely necessary and if such protects his interests. While they do this, princes must be remain cognizant of the importance of avoiding hatred. Maintaining the goodwill of the people as Machiavelli describes, is better than any fortress. Maintaining this good will may be done by undertaking great projects that build on the reputation of the leader. The value of good advisers is also emphasized in the Prince and kings should be wary of flatterers. The most fundamental quality of a god prince is ‘virtu’ which denotes talent, and the vigor to pursue goals (Smith, 22). Machiavelli marries the ideas of opportunity by indicating that for “virtu” to be beneficial, it must be marched with “fortuna”.
According to his political commentary in Prince, Machiavelli brings in the philosophy of how power can be seized. He explains the structures that should exist in a government to strengthen the state and foster good relationships between the state and the rulers of it. He explains that for rulers to stay in power, they have to compromise virtue in order to achieve what they want. A good ruler acquires this by learning how not to be good, which entails distancing from the concern for justice, kindness and transparency. This, according to Machiavelli keeps the state stable and avoids upheaval by state members (Ridolfi, 101).
Deductively, Machiavelli’s understanding of politics revolves around three major themes; power, state and political figure. Although he does not entirely define power, Machiavelli discusses power and influence as an intricate human phenomenon that calls for an understanding of how people relate, their psychology and what they value. To express power, it rulers have to acknowledge realities rather than idealize them. In his discussions, Machiavelli brings to light the concept of the state as an important political entity. This meaning is quite different from the earlier understanding, in which the nationalists at that time appreciated the word “State” as a reflection of the “status”, say social status. Objectification of state meant that leaders express their rule over the republics, which are made of individuals. To expound on his understanding of the state, Machiavelli explains two forms of such; one that deals with principality, and another that portrays a republic (Smith, 55).
The third entity that Machiavelli insinuates is a political figure. He discusses this as the one who holds the tools of power and uses them to rule over the others. Essentially the ruler is the impression of power to the subjects and the identity of the state occurs through such a person who holds the power (Ridolfi, 77). Following his argument, the determinants of the direction that a state would take are fortuna, which is synonymous with fate and the capabilities of the political figure.
In conclusion, Niccolo Machiavelli is highly regarded as the forerunner of contemporary political science. Through his works, he introduced the concepts of republicanism and liberalism. These two focus on the phenomenon of realism rather than the idealism that had been described by philosophers before Machiavelli. Machiavelli’s view of the state, power and political figure are widely applicable in the understanding of political research in the modern day. Machiavelli explains the qualities of good and evil as they should be expressed by a leader. A king has the discretion of using means to instill fear among his subjects as well as the capacity to draw admiration from his subjects. The balance between these two either makes a good or a bad leader. To maintain power, a prince must also seize opportunities and utilize their talent in achieving their goals.
Ridolfi, R. (2013). The Life of Niccolò Machiavelli (Routledge Library Editions: Political Science Volume 26) (Vol. 26). Routledge.
Smith, B. J. (2014). Politics and remembrance: Republican themes in Machiavelli, Burke, and Tocqueville. Princeton University Press.