The Prince and I

Almost 500 years later, can Machiavelli’s The Prince still be a learning tool for communications heads?

A number of books in recent years have been dedicated to the wisdom offered to corporate leadership by the 15th century Italian political philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli. Machiavelli’s The Prince, in particular, is considered by some as required reading for achieving success in modern companies. So what advice does he offer? And what are the implications for the roles and responsibilities of communication directors? Careful consideration of the behaviour advocated by Machiavelli – and the assumptions behind his philosophy – suggest that his approach is obsolete. We can surely still learn from The Prince; however, its lessons warn us of how placing self interest and lust for power above all else leads to dangerous consequences.

Cynthia Wagner Weick

Dr. Cynthia Wagner Weick is professor of management at the Eberhardt School of Business, and the School of Engineering and Computer Science, at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. She teaches and publishes in the areas of commercialising science and technology, and creative approaches to strategic management and leadership.