We've all heard the expression “Machiavellian” as denoting something bad. And this idea comes from the foundations of the book The Prince in which Machiavelli, teaches political leaders of the time how to keep power by any means, including immoral decisions, dishonesty, killing, etc.
Those who score high on the scale (High Machs) are more likely to have a high level of deceitfulness and a cynical, unempathetic temperament. Machiavellianism is one of the traits in the dark triad model, along with psychopathy and narcissism.
This particular combination of dark personality traits is highly damaging and should be met with caution. Machiavellian leaders or coworkers have negative effects on individuals and entire organizations. Therefore, it is vital to understand how Machiavellianism works and what can be done to cope with it.
Machiavellianism in psychology refers to a personality trait that sees a person so focused on their own interests they will manipulate, deceive, and exploit others to achieve their goals. Machiavellianism is one of the traits in what is called the 'Dark Triad'.
Machiavellian personality traits are often associated with low levels of empathy and lack of interpersonal closeness. However, some individuals high on Machiavellian traits have been shown to be skilled at affective-perspective taking and thereby may appear to exhibit an empathic response.
People with Machiavellian personality tend to be highly intelligent. Consequently, they usually have very ambitious goals to which they dedicate lots of time and effort. They usually focus on taking advantage of other people for their own gain. All of their plans focus on achieving some end that they consider noble.
604) noted that “Machiavellian leaders are motivated to manipulate others in order to accomplish their own goals. They have little trust in people and in turn, tend not to be trusted by others”.
Someone Machiavellian is sneaky, cunning, and lacking a moral code. The word comes from the Italian philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli, who wrote the political treatise The Prince in the 1500s, that encourages “the end justifies the means” behavior, especially among politicians.
Narcissism is characterized by grandiosity, pride, egotism, and a lack of empathy. Machiavellianism is characterized by manipulation and exploitation of others, an absence of morality, unemotional callousness, and a higher level of self-interest.
characterized by subtle or unscrupulous cunning, deception, expediency, or dishonesty: He resorted to Machiavellian tactics in order to get ahead. a follower of the principles analyzed or described in The Prince, especially with reference to techniques of political manipulation.
Are Machiavellian people are born that way? Experts do say that in a few small and isolated cases, there's a genetic predisposition to psychopathy. However, Machiavellianism is largely the result of a poor upbringing, the child imitating their parents.
Fortune and Virtù
Finally, leaders must not rely on luck, Machiavelli wrote, but should shape their own fortune, through charisma, cunning and force. As Machiavelli saw it, there were two main variables in life: fortune and virtù. Virtù (not virtue) meant bravery, power and the ability to impose one's own will.
Common signs and examples of Machiavellianism
Competing with others rather than cooperating. Manipulating others in order to reach their goals. Luring others into wild behaviour to further their own ends. Making plans for personal benefit with no consideration of their effect on other people.
One of the negative leadership styles is Machiavelli leadership. The Machiavelli's leadership is destructive and a voluntary behavior from the leader and most employees see it as deviant and harmful behavior that has costs for people or organizations (Mohammadi, 2019).
There is probably some genetic predisposition towards callous, selfish, and manipulative personality traits. However, early parental influences and home life are probably the deciding factor.
A particularly virulent personality leadership type by a woman is one we label “Machiavellian Mary.” This style denotes a superficially agreeable, yet ruthless, self-focused, and false individual.
As expected, they found that Machiavellianism was significantly related to higher scores on fluid intelligence, albeit to a modest extent, whereas narcissism and psychopathy were completely unrelated to fluid intelligence.
Nicolas Machiavelli is deemed to be the representative par excellence of the lack of morality and ethics in politics. The theory that “the end justifies the means” encapsulates his political and moral thought. The adjective Machiavellian means a total lack of scruples.
Machiavellian leaders manipulate and undermine others using cunning and duplicitous methods. They actively work at being viewed as ingratiating towards others so that they are not seen as a threat.