The next tine you’re having a REALLY bad day, watch this brief video clip from ABC’s Good Morning America program.
How and why a leader needs to be both “a fox to discern snares, and a lion to drive off wolves”
Those who have read one or more of the volumes that comprise Tom Butler-Bowdon’s 50 Classics series already know that he possesses superior reasoning and writing skills as well as a relentless curiosity when conducting research on history’s greatest thinkers and their major works. For these and other reasons, I cannot think of another person better qualified to provide the introductions to the volumes that comprise a new series, Capstone Classics.
Unlike so many others, he provides more, much more than a flimsy “briefing” to the given work. As Butler-Bowdon points out, “recent research has focused on [Machiavelli’s] ethics and the fact that he was a genuine moral philosopher and well-rounded Renaissance man whose overriding wish was to be useful.” This obviously challenges the mistaken but durable perception of Machiavelli as being “evil” by those who have never read The Prince and know even less about the age in which it was written.
Indeed, as Yale’s Erica Benner suggests in Machiavelli’s Ethics (published by Princeton University Press, 2009), The Prince is “best seen not as a guide on how to be ruthless or self-serving, but rather as a lens to see objectively the prevailing views of the day, and to open the eyes of the reader to the motives of others.”
For this volume, Butler-Bowdon poses and then addresses key issues such as these in order to create a context, a frame-of-reference, for Niccolò Machiavelli’s insights:
o The defining characteristics of the social and political forces of the period during which he lived and worked
o The extent to which The Prince accurately reflects that period
o The dominant influences (for better or worse) on Machiavelli’s career
o Their impact on his efforts to advance that career amidst deadly perils and equally perilous opportunities
o The unique contributions and heritage of The Prince within the development of western literature
o Machiavelli’s articles of religious faith and perspectives political realities (e.g. his “success laws”)
o His definition of “power” and how best to gain and then apply it
o Girolamo Savonarola’s significance
o The role of image and charisma in effective leadership
o Machiavelli’s “final, powerful message” to our own times
There were so many passages in The Prince that caught my eye while re-reading it prior to writing this brief review. One was cited in its title (i.e. a leader needs to be both “a fox to discern snares, and a lion to drive off wolves”) and Butler-Bowdon cites another when concluding the Introduction to this volume: Reflecting Machiavelli’s basic philosophy regarding the division of causal power between and chance and merit, he states that, “What remains to be done must be done by you,” as ultimately “God will not do everything Himself.” To which Butler-Bowdon responds, “The Prince ultimately is a book of action, and demands of you the reader, to act without fear to achieve noble things, acquiring distinction and perhaps a certain glory in your own lifetime.”
As indicated earlier, Tom Butler-Bowdon’s purpose in this introduction is to create a context, a frame-of-reference, for Machiavelli’s insights. He does so brilliantly and also in each of the other volumes in the Capstone Classics series that have been published thus far.
Here is an excerpt from an article written by Derek Finkelman and Jonathan Corke for Talent Management magazine. To check out all the resources and sign up for a free subscription to the TM and/or Chief Learning Officer magazines published by MedfiaTec, please click here.
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Top-performing individuals don’t instantly become top-performing managers. To succeed, new managers require time, training and guidance.
It’s a common scenario: A managerial position becomes available and is filled by a top performer with minimal or no previous management experience. Yet it makes sense. Shouldn’t a top performer be able to easily make the transition to manager? Shouldn’t that person be able to guide others to his or her same level of productivity? The answer is a 100 percent, absolute maybe.
While top performers likely have solid domain skills, coupled with a strong motivation to succeed, there’s a good chance they have not been afforded sufficient opportunity to develop effective management techniques. For some, these skills can be learned on the job. For others, the consequences of a poor managerial fit can be significant in terms of lost productivity and morale for the new manager and his or her direct reports.
Therefore, prior to promoting a top performer with minimal or no managerial experience, assess the candidate’s strengths and forward-looking potential in nine core areas of effective management.
This analysis can ensure consistently smooth management transitions and keep a company operating at peak performance as it identifies whether a top performer is ready to lead now, is better-suited for some limited managerial experiences and additional training, or perhaps has a skill set and disposition that will only thrive in an individual contributor role. Consider: Can the new manager execute these nine core skills?
[Here are the first three.]
• Move from tactical to strategic. Is the employee ready to let go of his or her day-to-day responsibilities and play a more conceptual or strategic role? Some managers believe they need to understand every last detail of what their employees are working on.
• Commonly referred to as “micro-managing,” this type of behavior can make otherwise content employees burn out and leave a company. For a top performer who excels at the tactical level, managing others to achieve the same level of success may not seem as fulfilling.
• Is the employee prepared for this potential shock? Many top performers are capable of the transition from tactical to strategic thinking, provided they have access to the right resources, such as a mentor or applicable management training courses.
Defend the team. Is the employee ready to defend his or her new direct reports and support them in public? Is the employee ready to be a leader? Leaders absorb rather than deflect criticism. Leaders push praise downward to their employees and proactively look for ways to portray their direct reports in a positive light.
In short, leaders have a deep understanding of the phrase, “praise in public, condemn in private.” Lots of top performers have healthy, competitive egos. Don’t assume that deflecting praise and supporting direct reports is a natural instinct for new managers.
Build trusting relationships. Can the employee develop a strong, trusting relationship that engenders compassion and prudent responses to change? As a cautionary tale, “Jerry” really enjoyed working for a manager until the reasons behind some recent absences came into question.
Jerry’s son was in and out of the hospital, and thus, he needed to unexpectedly miss some work during a two-week period. Rather than show compassion and understanding, Jerry’s manager accused him of interviewing. The manager’s paranoia quickly became a self-fulfilling prophecy, as Jerry decided it wasn’t worth working for someone who so quickly questioned his integrity. Jerry’s example illustrates the risk associated with promoting a top performer before understanding his or her ability to trust and respect others.
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To read the complete article, please click here.
Derek Finkleman is Product Manager at CashStar, the preferred digital gifting and incentives partner for retailers nationwide. These retail brands leverage CashStar to easily and securely integrate digital gifting strategies to increase sales and customer loyalty. Jonathan Corke is Field Marketing Manager at WorkForce Software, the leader in workforce management solutions for large employers with complex policies and compliance concerns.