Conduct or philosophy based on (or one who adopts) the cynical beliefs of Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) whose name (in popular perception) is synonymous with deception and duplicity in management and statecraft. Born in Florence (Italy), Machiavelli was its second chancellor and (in 1513) wrote the book 'The Prince' that discusses ways in which the rulers of a nation state can gain and control power. Although The Prince contains some keen and practical insights into human behavior, it also displays a pessimistic view of human nature and condones opportunistic and unethical ways of manipulating people.
One of its suggestions reads, "Whoever desires to found a state and give it laws, must start with assuming that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature."

Use Machiavellian in a sentence

  • Some managers use a machiavellian approach when delegating all of the businesses tasks to his employees and it can work well at times.

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  • The current president used some Machiavellian techniques to stay in office, which made him a very scary and strange president.

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  • In the workplace, there are those supervisors who adopt a very machiavellian approach, like my boss; and there are those who prefer a more compassionate approach.

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