Our political leaders, especially the President, badly need a refresher course on successful leader behavior. I have been disturbed by the appearance of Obama trying to please everyone he meets, foreign heads of state in particular. History has consistently shown that strong, dignified leaders earn the respect of their followers and peers while achieving success in their organization goals. Barak Obama appears to be oblivious to this fact as he continues to exude narcissistic behavior and blunder through his tenure as president, seemingly to never be cognizant of the blunders of his predecessors.
The point is clearly noted in Michael Ledeen’s (2000) Machiavelli on Modern Leadership:
Among other blunders, they invariably give the wrong answer to one of Machiavelli’s basic questions: Is it better to be more loved than feared, or more feared than loved? Western leaders from John Major and Bill Clinton to Newt Gingrich, Silvio Berlusconi, and Benjamin Netanyahu have desperately sought love from both friends and foes, to the ruin of their domestic and international enterprises. Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Lee Kwan Yu, Bill Gates, and Pope Paul II knew better, and reshaped the world. (P. xiv)
In addition to this excellent point, there are other observations Machiavelli posits that apply to the President and his close retinue:
When it comes to international affairs the bare bones fact are:
- Our challengers, whether a new team in a sport’s league, Japanese companies making cheaper and better automobiles, the Russian leaders, or a Middle-Eastern government, “. . .will not be charmed by sweet reasonableness, for they seek domination over us. If you’re going to be a leader, you must make a simple choice: either dominate or be dominated. (p. 16.)
- “Worse still, when you find a leader who acts [in these ways], you can be sure that he’s making other big mistakes as well, because the proper use of power is such a central ingredient in any good organization.” (p. 31)
Ledeen, M.A. (2000). Machiavelli on Modern Leadership: Why Machiavelli’s iron rules are as timely and important today as five centuries ago. St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2000.