I picked up 32 audiobooks recently including an audio copy of Machiavelli's The Prince.
It's always intrigued me as a book - it's really not so hardcore, given its reputation. It's a fairly straightforward, blunt book on political science, governance, and military science. The mystique and aura around it are primarily from people who haven't read it.
The most famous quote from the book, of course, is "Better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both."
I missed it the first couple times I read the book. This time I picked up on Machiavelli's point.
He says love is internally based. It's a feeling you largely choose to feel, that you can large turn on and off easily. Love is fickle. It comes, it goes.
Fear is much more predictable and largely externally based. Lovers can fall out easily on a fast downward spiral whim; fear does not wear off if your base character stays the same.
But note the "if you can not be both." The highest way is to be held in love, esteem, and respect during daily life, with something in the back of a person's mind that if they do wrong by you, you'll be a source of hell and misery. That keeps wanton destruction and arbitrary betrayals in check.
I think love is stronger than fear. A commander loved by his soldiers will defeat a commander feared by his soldiers in almost all battles... but the feared commander is less subject to arbitrary chance. So, they both have value. 95% love, 5% fear is probably the best mix. But the 5% needs to be you unleashing the forces of hell with cold precision if you're turned against.
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But being feared is way way easier to achieve than being loved.
I know what to do to be feared but tell me what should I do to be loved.
Fear and love seem to be key in leadership. If you can get people to fear you, you can get tons of *productive* work done. I guess. But if people fear you (or the project / mission), you are only dealing with one factor for motivation. And it's a scarce one.
Fear is a natural response to danger, and it takes people to a 'survival mode', where they only do 'enough to not face what I fear'. I think if you want people to really make a change in events / in a project - to really make a difference, you need their love.
Love is much more irrational, and it makes people do (sometimes) stupid things. Like, going to a battle even if they fear it - but they love the leader and / or the feeling of accomplishment / purpose, so they do it anyway. They are maybe inspired by the future glory, or the significance of their input - much more motivating than the limiting fear.
I'm trying to shift my leadership attempts from fear to love (and trust). In my field (arts and creative industries), you can't get people to be inspired and to *want* to do something big if they're scared. But I'm starting to see the results of giving them a sense of purpose, the significance of their input and the project as a whole. It brings pretty amazing (though usually hard to predict) results.
I guess project management (projects like production, especially) can benefit from fear. But if you want creative leadership, you're better off trusting and inspiring love.
In my experience, the mix of love and fear is called "respect" - that's exactly what you describe as "being loved (admired, looked up to, etc.) and with a spec of fear in the background", and it's definitely the most effective thing, but difficult to achieve...
"A commander loved by his soldiers will defeat a commander feared by his soldiers in almost all battles… but the feared commander is less subject to arbitrary chance" - tell that to Soviet soldiers who died by the millions to defend Russia and crush the Third Reich - they were basically given the choice "Die by the hands of the enemy or mine" by Stalin, and that made them desperate enough to actually win against soldiers who respected/loved their leader. Most of the veterans think that Stalin was a "soulless person", but all of them agree that he was a good leader... pretty interesting...
"The highest way is to be held in love, esteem, and respect during daily life, with something in the back of a person’s mind that if they do wrong by you, you’ll be a source of hell and misery."
The thought occurred to me that this is basically what most parents are. Kids love their parents, but also fear the punishment they'll get if they don't behave.
And as kids become teenagers, the parents' ability to apply fear weakens, and the kids typically obey their parents less.
It also depends on what kind of entity you're leading. Leading a country or army is different to leading a company. In the first case, it's difficult for subordinates to leave you. In the second case, people can easily leave - and you might also be trying to inspire them to do highly creative work, rather than just follow orders. These factors change the preference for using fear or love.
Just had another thought - this is the classic "theory X vs theory Y" schools of management. Theory X = lazy employees = extrinsic motivation = fear. Theory Y = inspired employees = intrinsic motivation = love.
Interesting. I think I should read this to get a different point of view, because it directly conflicts with the one I have now.
This comes my own experience. Of being managed by fear, not necessarily the use of. The only good I could see was that I grew closer to the people I worked with. But it wasn't for productivity. It was looking for ways out. Looking for respect.
I think using fear does indeed get the job done. But it's a short-term solution. Once the job is done, you have no loyalty. Having both fear and love is more obvious. You don't want to be a pushover as a leader, which is where the fear comes into play. But choosing just one? You really cannot be both? Is that ever the case?
Perhaps choosing to start with fear, then love is better. I've experienced this in sports. Good coaches, they're tough. Initially. And once they get your head in the game, they respect you. And you return that respect. It's a relationship. Using fear alone will win some games, but then people look elsewhere for respect. And it shows.
I dunno, perhaps I just haven't been in a position where I had to choose between the two to fully understand. I'll have to read more about how you get into such a situation.
hey if your in battle and a solider that loves their commander and comrades and sees them as family. Don't you think they are experiencing fear and love as well as many other feelings. Good will alway triumph in the end as oppose to evil may only win the battle but not the war. Most humans seek peace and love. Psychology is a must learn subject
The Prince is a very tricky read. I studied political science and political philosophy was an important part of it. The difficulty with The Prince is that some scholars believe that Machiavelli wrote the whole thing in a sarcastic tone and that his books should be read as a cynical satire of the excesses of the time (external perspective) whereas others only base their analysis on what is in the text (internal perspective).
Rousseau sums this up thusly: "Machiavelli was a proper man and a good citizen; but, being attached to the court of the Medici, he could not help veiling his love of liberty in the midst of his country's oppression. The choice of his detestable hero, Caesar Borgia, clearly enough shows his hidden aim; and the contradiction between the teaching of the Prince and that of the Discourses on Livy and the History of Florence shows that this profound political thinker has so far been studied only by superficial or corrupt readers. The Court of Rome sternly prohibited his book. I can well believe it; for it is that Court it most clearly portrays." - Social Contract, Book 3, n. 23
Likewise does Ian Johnston, (Lecture on Machiavelli's The Prince) "the book is, first and foremost, a satire, so that many of the things we find in it which are morally absurd, specious, and contradictory, are there quite deliberately in order to ridicule ... the very notion of tyrannical rule". Hence, Johnston says, "the satire has a firm moral purpose – to expose tyranny and promote republican government."