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Do you have to be Machiavelli to succeed?

Do You Have to Be Machiavelli to Succeed?

POSSIBLY NO INDIVIDUAL HAD AS much impact on modern political thought as did Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527). In the midst of the Renaissance, his treatise "Il Principe," written for the Prince of Florence, Lorenzo de' Medici, discussed previoulsy unheard-of criteria for ruling the masses and the need to defend the powerful city-state. With this in mind, it might be interesting to compare our modern concepts of security for industrial and institutional complexes with some of the Machiavellian precepts.

Machiavelli was the typical bureaucrat of his day. He was a brain truster--an idea man for the Florentine politicians. He was relied on to complete the administrative work of the city-state. He saw to it that papers were drawn up, orders cut, correspondence sent, and records kept. Eventually he was sent on diplomatic missions, where he studied the civil and military structures of his era. He taught the world to live in the reality of cold political power. He rejected metaphysics, theology, and idealism in favor of political realism. He may have been misrepresented in history by being connected to the unscrupulous use of political power--yet that was exactly the situation of his day.

Machiavelli indicates in chapter 10 of his treatise that the prince would be wise to provide a standing militia and proper fortifications for himself. Being without a standing militia, with only fortifications for defense, would place the prince and his state on the defensive. Machiavelli suggests that in addition to moats, bastions, and artillery, a year's provisions to sustain the city-state during a siege be set aside. In addition, he stresses continuing military exercises to prepare for defense.

With respect to the militia, Machiavelli is quite adamant. He supports the raising of a standing milita made up of the prince's own people. He states, "The chief foundations of all states, new as well as old or composite, are good laws and good arms; and as there cannot be good laws where the state is not well armed, it follows that where they are well armed, they have good laws." He then indicates that mercenaries or auxiliaries are useless and dangerous because they have no true allegiance to the prince, the state, or the political system they are hired to protect. "They are disunited, ambitious, without discipline, faithless, bold amongst friends, cowardly before the enemy, and have no fear of God," he warns.

The leadership within the militia is also of great importance, according to the treatise. The mercenary captains, if they are capable, cannot be relied on because they may aspire to their own ambitions, either by not cooperating with the prince whom they serve or by oppressing others against the prince's intentions. If they are not capable, they will no doubt cause ruin. To ensure proper leadership, according to Machiavelli, the prince may have to go in person to perform the duties of captain. In either case, the militia leader must be willing and able to command within the limits of the rules and laws of the prince he serves and preferably be a subject of the city-state.

SOME INTERESTING COMPARISONS of today's industrial and institutional protection needs and Machiavelli's recommendations to his prince can be made. Concerning defense, or more accurately, the protection of assets, we still find it necessary to establish fortifications. We do this by providing fencing, lockable gates, proper outside lighting, lock and key systems, and appropriate building design and construction. Our militia is our security staff, our artillery is our side-arm or nightstick, our moat is our fence or gate, and our bastions are CCTV and two-way radios. Our year-long provisions--found in the form of monetary reserves, lines of credit, and liability insurance--include emergency plans for surviving natural disasters, civil unrest, or even mismanagement.

What of the military exercises Machiavelli supported so strongly? Is it not true that in today's changing social and physical environment a well-trained security staff is an essential? Training the security staff is just as important as training any other department or staff member, and must be an ongoing, never ending program.

Machiavelli says the militia serving the prince should be composed of the subjects of the city-state. This is just as true today. A proprietary security staff with an equitable compensation and benefits package, good training, and good leaders will respond as if the industry or institution is its own.

Compare our methods of leadership with Machiavelli's. He stresses the need for captains from within the city-state who are capable of leading the militia both offensively and defensively and, if none are available, the prince himself may have to assume command. Today, we find small companies and large corporations alike hiring security directors and managers who have very little professional knowledge. The generals of industry seem to consider the captains of the military or the civil law enforcement agencies the natural source for leaders in private security. Unless the candidate understands the needs of private industry, a major conflict between the organization and the security manager will result.

A body of knowledge is emerging that ensures private security's role in industrial and institutional management, and it will sever itself from the military or the police sciences. The security manager may be reporting to the chief engineer, the personnel director, the safety officer, or the risk manager, a chain of command that shows a complete misunderstanding by the administration of the function of an effective, efficient security program.

What may occur, as Machiavelli suggests, is that the CEO may be required to assume the leadership of the program, for the program will surely fail otherwise, due to improper and inappropriate decision making. The answer is in the recruitment and selection of a professional who is qualified by education and experience to develop, administer, and manage the protection program. This individual could be placed within the operational structure and report to a vice president, an assistant administrator, or preferably to the CEO.

Many of the concepts of Machiavelli, with regard to defense or protection of assets, hold true today. It is bewildering to understand that the problems of five centuries ago are still recognizable in this day. Did Prince de' Medici, when presented with Machiavelli's treatise, act on Machiavelli's revelations, or did he ignore the recommendations, refusing to listen to his expert? Whatever happened to the de' Medici family? What happened to the city-state of Florence? What is happening within your company?

Gerald L. Bagley, CPP, is the director of safety and security for a major tertiary medical facility in California. He serves on the boards of directors of the International Association for Hospital Security and the International Healthcare Security and Safety Foundation, and is a member of ASIS.
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Title Annotation:industrial and institutional security
Author:Bagley, Gerald L.
Publication:Security Management
Article Type:column
Date:Jul 1, 1989
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