Our desire to search for pearls of effective corporate leadership has taken us through distilling epics, mythology and history from which we have extensively drawn our lessons on the one hand. We likewise keep drawing lessons on leadership from freshly minted Management literature, on the other hand. Both are relevant and I would recommend heuristic application.
Somewhere however forgotten are the meaningful lessons on effective leadership from the Renaissance Philosopher - Niccolo Machiavelli to his 'Prince', which continues to be as relevant for leaders in the digital era as it did in times before.
I propose to take these Machiavellian lessons - one at a time and share my thoughts and views on transference of some of his learnings that it seamlessly renders itself relevant to, even in the digital era.
Machiavelli coaches the Prince and says... "whoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times". The Prince cannot adopt one style as his 'signature style' and apply it mindlessly at all times without reference to the context.
The Prince has to be constantly challenged by his desire to sustain his efficiency in times that are volatile, susceptible, unpredictable and complex. It is a fallacy for us to believe that we are the first 'impactees' of VUCA times. Maybe true for the anagram - 'VUCA' , but certainly not the experience with its dynamic character in the drama of change ! World history has seen many VUCA times before !!!
Corporate Leader is the contemporary "Prince". The 'Prince' is tempted to use his typical all-season common style as the master/leader at all times. He will fail. His power tends to intoxicate his weakness. He believes he is so powerful that the recipients have to tolerate his style. He does not have to be sensitive to the situation so as to contextually modify his conduct. That becomes his nemesis for the Prince!
Leading a multi-generational work-force and adopting different styles to match their context, expectations, preferences, tools, platforms and value propositions , determines success. The corporate Prince has to be sensitive and mindful to change his conduct to match the context.
Perhaps what does not change are sovereign Values that the Prince has to hold dear. They do not change. Prince cannot be a catalyst. He cannot remain unchanged whilst expecting change all around. He has to change and modify as well.
I have seen many leaders fail for continuing to adopt the same style that gave results in the past into changed times. Machiavelli may have his flaws. But certainly not on this one. A jalopy may get curious attention in a vintage car rally but certainly not in a Formula car race ! Imagine the Prince - Crown, Jewels and Gown walking the streets of Mumbai behaving as in Old Times !!!