A successful Machiavellian leader consists of five crucial characteristics and traits. These traits are the deciding factor in whether or not the leader will be successful. These necessary characteristics include being feared or loved but not hated, having the people’s support, convincingly displaying virtues, using one’s own arms, and intelligence. Without these five qualities a leader has no hope at becoming a successful Machiavellian leader.
In medieval times it was much safer for a person to be feared than loved because people who fear you are much less likely to revolt as Machiavelli describes on page 65. However, in today’s society the type of government changes whether a leader would rather be feared than loved. The president of the United States needs to be loved rather than feared because in a democracy the people decide how long you can be leader, but in communist China or Russia being feared is more helpful because your citizens are less likely to rebel and revolt against you. If you are going to choose to be feared than it is crucial that the citizens of your country do not hate you for as Machiavelli states on page 72 hatred leads to people scheming and ultimately executing an assassination.
The second important quality for a leader is the support of the people because without the people supporting your decisions no actions can be made. The importance of people’s support is explained in almost every chapter of The Prince because without the people’s will behind you military action is not possible without auxiliary or mercenary units, holding your position as leader is not possible, and territory expansion is also not possible without help from the people. If the people do not believe in the cause you are fighting for they will not join you in battle. If you are not satisfying your people’s basic needs they will rebel and either kill you or banish you from their lands. Also, if the populace will not join you in an attempt to capture or claim more land outside the borders.
The third important trait to have or pretend to have is virtues as described on page 62 because with virtues it is easier to gain the peoples support, and as I said above without the peoples support military action, expansion, and staying in power are not possible without the support of your people. Having good virtues can in some instances limit your ability to rule, so a more viable option is to show good virtues in public, but do what has to be done to succeed in the privacy of your fortress.
The fourth trait necessary to be a successful Machiavellian leader is not a trait, but more of a decision. This decision is to use your own arms in battle as opposed to auxiliary or mercenary units as described in chapter 12 and 13. If you use your own citizens they are willing to die for your cause and will support you no matter what your tactical decision, but hiring soldiers has the opposite affect because they will often flee the battle to avoid death. Auxiliary units are also a bad decision because they will not be willing to die for your cause and this will lead to you being weaker if you win the battle because you will not have your own men to occupy the territory.
The fifth and possibly the most important of the traits of a Machiavellian leader is intelligence. Without intelligence a prince or king could not gain the support of his people, be able to find the perfect balance of fear or love, or know to use your own arms in battle. Intelligence allows a prince to rule his territory with confidence and pride because he knows that the decisions are his and not a minister or assistant. The modern man who I believe falls under the category of all five of these traits is Ronald Reagan because he was loved by the American people, he had the peoples support, he showed his virtues, he used his own arms, and above all he was intelligent. Ronald Reagan was not evil as the name Machiavellian suggests, but a good kind hearted man who led America out of some of our toughest times.