Creative Leadership

The Machiavelli Ef­fect – Is It Happening in Your Organization?

Learn to recognize the people holding back your vision…

In his classic book “The Prince,” Niccolò Machiavelli wrote that in­no­va­tors are often op­posed by “all those who have done well un­der the old con­ditions.” If I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen that played out in all kinds of organizations, I’d be rich.

We live in the most innovative and changing time in the history of the world. The digital revolution has upset old systems, changed or eliminated jobs, the tools we use, and pretty much how we do everything.

But as the world shifts, some people fight the change because they did well under the old rules. Perhaps they won awards or were highly regarded under the old system and the last thing they want is to deal with something new.

Perhaps the demands of this new world are just too difficult to master. Plus, at a certain point, age can take its toll. The old saying that it’s difficult for an old dog to learn new tricks is true.

When that happens, those holdouts tend to band together and attack anything new. Sometimes they’re supported by an old style union, their knowledge of company rules, or traditional grants and funding models. Sometimes their support comes from senior level leaders who hate to lose old friends.

In my experience, I can tell you as these employees become more desperate, they become capable of doing nearly anything to keep their job. They will set up their competition for failure, undermine new strategy, and sabotage new technology or methods.

Keep in mind these aren’t bad people. They just aren’t interested in change, and that fear drives them to do things they would have never considered before.

If any employees like this exist in your organization, find them and get them out. Don’t kick them to the curb, but help them transition to a place where they can function well – most likely a more traditional organization or team.

Because until you do, they’re undermining your vision and your future.

“Niccolo Machiavelli” by gnuru is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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