In Machiavellian Intelligence: How to survive and rise in the modern corporation, we argue that many talented, hard-working executives don’t rise as far in their organisations as they deserve, because other colleagues are more naturally ‘Machiavellian’ in their workplace behaviour. Many women could be among them.
Most modern cultures have got rid of ‘bad’ Machiavellian behaviours: manipulative behaviours that are now recognised as damaging and dangerous.

But there are also ‘benign’ Machiavellian behaviours, which could be described as ‘clever diplomacy’: subtle self-promotion; good networking with people in positions of power; forging useful alliances; bringing oneself to the attention of the people who matter.

Being Machiavellian, even in this benign sense, is not the sole preserve of men. But many women’s instincts towards collaboration and towards ‘getting their heads down and getting the job done’, rather than spending time on self-promotion and jockeying for power may militate against them in the career stakes. Maybe, even in the modern workplace, women need to be just a little bit more ‘Machiavellian’.

The Six Habits of Highly Unsuccessful Executives

This theme offers practical advice on the ‘Six Habits of Highly Unsuccessful Executives’: six ‘good’ habits of hard-working, talented executives that are not, in fact, helping to promote their careers. We advocate that people adopt more Machiavellian strategies to promote their careers, because in our experience this kind of benign Machiavellian behaviour is still needed to get to the top of the majority of workplaces.

The theme also acknowledges the drive to create open, transparent, meritocratic workplaces in which talent is invariably rewarded and Machiavellian behaviours are not needed. The theme explores the cultural changes that would be needed to remove ‘glass ceilings’ of every kind.

Organisations have an unavoidable tendency towards monoculture. Once organisational cultures become established, they instinctively attract more ‘people like us’ to the most senior roles. Populating organisations with people of different gender, race and cultural background won’t necessarily change this: it is perfectly possible – paradoxically – to have a ‘diverse’ workforce that is still a monoculture.

To deconstruct glass ceilings, we need to genuinely embrace real diversity of thought, otherwise new ‘glass ceilings’ will simply disadvantage new groups of people.

All of our speaker themes can be delivered in variety of formats to suit the occasion, budget, audience, and purpose.

Themes can be delivered as a short speech, an interactive conference session, a half-day workshop or a full-day masterclass.

We also run bespoke arts-based leadership development programmes.

If you would like any more information, please do get in touch.