Renaissance Views Of Leadership

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by Bryan Zhong In his most infamous work, The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli presents a view of leadership that drastically contradicts most of the scholars of his time, particularly those of Pico Della Mirandolla. Machiavelli believes that one should alter the conditions of the surrounding environment to solely serve one’s own best interests of maintaining and expanding power, in short, the end justifies the means; on the other hand, Mirandolla believes that by devoting oneself to philosophical and divine pursuits, one could eventually gain the support of the people, in addition to attaining a greater sense of self-worth. However, Mirandolla’s’ approach on leadership would function poorly in reality, for though personal and spiritual integrity is praiseworthy, is rather useless against the less dignified triumphs of power. Machiavelli believes in a secular world such as ours, integrity and ethic principals are redundant in maintaining power; in fact, it is one of the barriers which one must overcome in order to govern efficiently. Machiavelli displays his distrust of citizens in the passage, and that “because they [people] are bad, and will not keep faith with you, you too are not bound to observe it with them”; therefore, he argues that it is unnecessary to be moralistically correct as opposed to appear so, stating that “a wise lord cannot, nor ought he to, keep faith when such observance may be turned against him,...but it is necessary to know well how to disguise this characteristic”. He considers having good qualities “and always to observe them is injurious”, as these traits may get in the way of the leader. It is essential for a leader to disguise his true characteristics, as to appear “merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright” is useful when such characteristics are needed, but they could be discarded when time calls. Mirandolla, in contrast, feels that

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