10 Ways to Lead Like Machiavelli

By Dennis McCafferty  |  Posted 11-05-2013 Email Print this article Print

Do you seek to lead like a lamb or a wolf? That question serves as a central focus in a new book from Gartner, The Wolf in CIO's Clothing: A Machiavellian Strategy for Successful IT Leadership (Gartner eBooks). In the book, author Tina Nunno offers these and other takeaways that convey often-effective managerial strategies that are aligned with the Renaissance-period writer and political theorist. True, Machiavelli was a controversial figure; he felt it was better to be feared than loved. Machiavelli believed the use of force was justified if the results merited it. And he was even described as a "teacher of evil" by the late Leo Strauss, an esteemed 20th-century political philosopher. But an impactful wolf CIO, Nunno contends, can extract many useful lessons from Machiavelli to emerge as a well-rounded and multi-faceted leader. "CIOs should get comfortable using power and growing it," Nunno says. "They should use every weapon in their arsenal to get large groups of people on board." Nunno is a research vice president and Gartner Fellow at Gartner Inc. For more about the book, click here.

  • Tap Into Your Inner Good Wolf

    An effective leader of the pack knows how to use positive incentives and collaboration to create IT staff loyalty and commitment.
    1-Tap Into Your Inner Good Wolf
  • Avoid the Weaknesses of Your Inner Lamb

    Many execs want to be a good-guy boss, but it doesn’t mean you should say "yes" when "no" is necessary, just to be liked.
    2-Avoid the Weaknesses of Your Inner Lamb
  • Strategize Like an Animal

    Because animals are often embattled and hunted. Just as CIOs are threatened by the extraordinary rate of change in IT, increased expectations and shrinking revenues and resources.
    3-Strategize Like an Animal
  • Know When Not to Fight

    Strong leaders know when a battle is a likely loss proposition. They live to fight another day for a more worthwhile—and winnable—opportunity.
    4-Know When Not to Fight
  • Take Calculated Risks

    When research and knowledge results in gambles that pay off, you build a reputation as a visionary to be taken seriously.
    5-Take Calculated Risks
  • Prepare for Expanded Turf to Manage

    The scope of what a CIO oversees will only grow over time, as nearly all major, mission-critical organization initiatives simply can't exist without IT.
    6-Prepare for Expanded Turf to Manage
  • Practice the Good Use of Power

    Power can corrupt, but not if you view it as a means of making positive things happen for your organization and department.
    7-Practice the Good Use of Power
  • Delegate Power Thoughtfully

    Your capability to maintain power is only as strong as the weakest link to who you entrust it.
    8-Delegate Power Thoughtfully
  • Don't Over-Seek Input

    You should only ask for input when it's needed to improve the outcome of an IT initiative—not because you want everyone to feel included.
    9-Don't Over-Seek Input
  • Recognize the Power—and Vulnerabilities—Created by Money

    A big IT budget means you and your department command clout. But it makes you a target for criticism and defunding, especially if you haven't achieved success and a strong ROI.
    10-Recognize the Power—and Vulnerabilities—Created by Money
Dennis McCafferty is a freelance writer for Baseline Magazine.


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