Machiavellian Leadership: Characteristics And Principles

 Machiavellianism is a leadership style that is based on duplicity and cunning. It is an approach in which the leaders use deception, fear, manipulation, and self-interest to achieve all the objectives.

This type of leadership has different uses in the workplace because it can be used as an excellent tool for personal and professional development.

Machiavellian leaders are ambitious and committed to getting going in the world. They do not think about the needs or wants of other people around them, but all they think of is personal success. 

Machiavellian leaders are known to be very effective because they are experts at doing what they do. They also can manipulate people around them for their benefit.

What Do You Mean By Machiavellian Leadership?

Machiavellian leadership approaches leadership that looks forward to promoting the leader’s interests by exploiting or even manipulating the team members. 

This type of leadership is based on the fantastic principles of Nicolo Machiavelli, an Italian political philosopher. The leaders are cunning, ruthless, and dominating, focusing on maintaining and building their power. They are also motivated by their gains and do not consider anybody around them. 

They also use fear to control everybody around them, and they are set to be very effective because they cannot get their way and maintain power in a challenging environment. It is essential to understand that Machiavellian leadership is not an excellent personality leadership style.

Machiavellian Leadership Principles

The principles of this leadership have been here for several years, and they are very effective and efficient ways to influence and gain power. 

The codes are all about being deceitful, manipulative, and willing to do anything to be in control. As a leader, it is essential to understand the difference between what is entirely ethical and what is not. The principles will help you know what type of leader you should be.

Understand Your Weaknesses and Strengths.

One of the most crucial things you can do to improve your performance at work and, of course, in life is self-knowledge. It requires much effort and time, but it is all worth it.

The End Justifies All Your Means

It is applied to the ethical dilemma, which includes people making all the decisions on their behalf when they have only limited information or resources to prove the decision.

Always Keep Your Eye Down The Line

We are living in a big-time change, and technology is moving instantly, so you need to stay updated with everything around you. If you want to survive, the revolution is significant for you to be free of fear. 

The business world has changed over the last few years, and digital technology has taken over. This increased the massive shift in how businesses communicate or market their products to clients. 

Leaders need to adapt themselves and also stay relevant with this shift.

A leader must be able to maintain their power if they are going against the wishes of their followers.

The group needs the leader to achieve all the objectives that they have set for the team and must be able to maintain power over the followers. It is especially true if the group works against the followers’ wishes. Leaders use different strategies to stay in control, like fear, charisma, and public shaming.

Never Outshine Other Leaders Or People Who Have More Power

Successful people should not underestimate their control and must always know their limits to get going. Successful people also believe there is no need to outshine other people around them to be better in all the ways to succeed.

The Philosophy of Machiavelli’s leadership

The leadership philosophy is all about the belief that it is not essential to have a virtuous personality to become a great leader. 

The leadership style believes that people are motivated only by self-interest, which makes them behave in some ways. A leader should understand this and use it to their advantage by gaining a lot of loyalty from the followers and making them feel like they are a part of the family. 

The key to success for this type of leadership is making people believe that your intentions are great even when you have bad choices following. 

Additionally, this relationship has been applied in several fields like religion, business, politics, psychology, and corporate leadership should be followed.

Why Does Machiavelli’s Leadership Style Work?

This leadership style works because it relies on manipulation to achieve optimum success. It is used by people who were not born as leaders, and several famous and infamous historical figures, including Hitler and Napoleon, have used it.

A machiavellian style relationship is beneficial only for some companies as it helps them achieve their objectives best. But this type of leadership has always been criticized because it can harm the people potentially under some control.

How Can You Apply Machiavellian Style Leadership In Your Business?

This type of leadership applies to any company or organization to achieve the desired results. It is not about deception anymore but is also used as a tool. Implementing the leadership style in your organization is difficult, but some factors can also lead to failure.

But if you want to understand how to apply the leadership style in the business, you need to understand some points, like the importance of having perfect brand credibility. It is also about the importance of having a strong influence and network.

This leadership style can be applied to enhance efficiency and work productivity. Being a leader, you should make it very clear that you will not allow the employees to keep wasting time on work that does not contribute to the company’s success. 

It is generally based on the idea that people are motivated only by self-interests, and there are two types of power: power over self and others. Most of the leadership style focuses on using the idea to get people to do what you want them to do, and you do not have to rely on moral or typical methods, including respect and trust.

It is a controversial leadership style that several successful leaders have used, but it is criticized for all its ill effects.

The Characteristics of a Machiavellian Leader

Do you want to become a great leader? If yes, you must have these five qualities as a Machiavellian leader features them. 

These traits are among the most critical factors in deciding whether you will succeed. These essential characteristics include being loved or feared but nowhere you are hated. 

It is all about having the support of people convincing all the discipline were Jews, or using your arm and having all the intelligence.

Being Feared

But today, the government type affects whether the leader is feared or loved. The leader should be loved instead of feared because democracy is here today. 

People deciding how long you would be a leader in a communist country like China or Russia being feared is very helpful because the citizens are least likely to rebel to start a revolution against you. The country’s citizens mustn’t hate you if you are likely to choose to be feared. 

Having The Right Support

One of the essential elements Of being a great leader is the support of the people because, without people’s consent, your decisions or actions could not be made. The importance of support is explained in all the chapters of Machiavellian leadership. 

Military action would not be possible without the will of the people behind you, and holding your position as a leader would also be impossible. At the same time, territory expansion would be a distant dream for you if there were no people around you.

If the people do not believe in you because they are fighting for them, they will not join you in the battle. 

Displaying Virtue

One of the essential elements of being a great leader is that they have to pretend to be a virtue which is already prescribed as a virtue on page 62. 

It is very easy to gain people’s support if you show integrity. As you know, military action expansion or staying in power would be impossible without people’s permission. 

Having great virtues can sometimes limit the ability to rule, but you can become a viable option by showing some great virtues in public. It would be best if you did what needs to be done to succeed in the privacy of the fortress.

Using Your Arms

This trait is very important to be a successful leader as it goes beyond just being a trade; it is also a decision. 

The decision is to use your arms beyond the auxiliary units in the battle. This will weaken you if you win your battle because you would not have your men to occupy any territory.

Having Intelligence

One of the essential traits of a leader is intelligence. A Prince or king cannot gain their arms in battle without intelligence. Intelligence allows you to rule your territory with confidence and pride because you know the decisions are yours, not your ministers or assistants.

There are different ways to identify Machiavellian leadership, some of which are mentioned here.

Machiavellian leaders perform well in a work environment with ambiguous rules. There is also some evidence that Machiavellian leaders do less well in a rules-based company and frequently ignore the procedures set in the company.

Machiavellian leaders cannot show a complete range of emotions and can appear detached.

Machiavellians will initially be charismatic and friendly and use soft and hard strategies to obtain objectives, like self-disclosure. 

Still, they will also attempt to make somebody feel very guilty. Machiavellians used some strategic behaviors. They do not have to be the center of attention like narcissists, but they are just satisfied to become puppeteers who end up pulling all the strings.

They try to reduce the influence of people and withhold their colleagues’ knowledge. They use manipulation to reach their objectives while scheming for personal goals. They tend to compete instead of being cooperative.


There are several ways to deal with these leaders, and you must avoid some behaviors. Based on the empirical literature on the behaviors and characteristics, there are several ways to deal with them. Next and engage in self-care.

These leaders can be very destructive and even pry on their colleagues’ good nature through a mixture of soft and hard strategies like seduction and bullying. 

This type of behavior can have a challenging impact on psychological well-being. At the same time, it is essential to set some boundaries to consider speaking with an expert who can help minimize stress and anxiety from dealing with a Machiavellian leader.

This is all you need to know about Machiavellian leadership. Full stop. You need to understand the major elements of this type of leadership, look out for people who pull the strings in your background, try to influence others to manipulate people, and initiate risky behaviors. You have to protect yourself from the negative effects of these data by setting boundaries and keeping your distance.


What is Machiavellianism?

Machiavellianism is a personality trait characterized by a cunning, manipulative, and strategic approach to achieving one’s goals, often at the expense of others.

What is Machiavellian leadership?

Machiavellian leadership emphasizes manipulation, cunning, and the use of any means necessary to achieve one’s goals, often with little regard for ethical or moral considerations.

What are the characteristics of Machiavellian leaders?

Machiavellian leaders are often charismatic, strategic thinkers who are adept at manipulating others to achieve their goals.

They may lack empathy, feel entitled, and be willing to take risks that others would not.

Is Machiavellian leadership effective?

Machiavellian leadership can be effective in achieving short-term goals, but it often comes at the cost of long-term relationships and ethical considerations.

It can also lead to a toxic work environment and a lack of trust among team members.

Can Machiavellian leaders be successful in the long run?

While Machiavellian leaders may be successful in achieving short-term goals, their lack of ethical considerations and disregard for others can ultimately lead to their downfall.

In the long run, leaders who prioritize building positive relationships and ethical considerations are often more successful.

How can organizations deal with Machiavellian leaders?

Organizations can deal with Machiavellian leaders by setting clear expectations and boundaries, promoting a culture of ethical considerations and collaboration, and holding leaders accountable for their actions.

It’s also important to identify and address any toxic behaviors early on.

Is Machiavellianism a desirable trait in leaders?

While some may argue that Machiavellianism can be an asset in certain contexts, such as in highly competitive industries or during times of crisis, it is generally not considered a desirable trait in leaders as it can lead to a lack of trust and a toxic work environment.

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