Books: The book that shook Adam Singer

Books: The book that shook Adam Singer - 'Forget your Charles Handy and your collected works of Tom Peters. Who needs modern management books when none has come close to the original and the best? More than half a millennium has not produced a management

by ADAM SINGER, group chief executive of Telewest Communicationsplc
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

'Forget your Charles Handy and your collected works of Tom Peters. Who needs modern management books when none has come close to the original and the best? More than half a millennium has not produced a management guru to touch Niccolo Machiavelli. The Prince is about statecraft, diplomacy and politics but, more importantly, it is the finest leadership handbook ever written.

Why? Not because it espouses the deviousness with which Machiavelli has become synonymous, but rather because it is informed by a crucial insight.

In a post-Freudian world it may seem obvious, but Machiavelli's stunning insight required a great leap of the imagination in high-renaissance Florence.

That understanding of human nature is what a prince really needs to succeed.

Beyond that, his general management advice is sound. I always try to remember his exhortation - wise princes should not be in thrall to conventional virtues but governed by necessity. In truth, 'needs must' is as powerful a catalyst today as it was in the piazzas of renaissance Florence.'

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