In 'The Prince' it is clear that Machiavelli is reflecting the form of rule he experiences being exerted by the leadership in Florence whilst also drawing general conclusions on other leaders. Machiavellian principle suggests that a leader must learn to deceive, lie and even act against one's own morality to achieve greatness. His central idea is that a leader who is not wicked should practice wickedness to rule effectively.
In modern society we tend to have a great deal of contempt for our leaders and as events in recent history have proved, this has in many cases been justified. It is perhaps because of Machiavelli's provision for acceptable corruption within our political leadership that society now accepts that leaders are not so much humans themselves but an elevated acceptable form of undesirable that is nonetheless essential to our survival (Charles 2000).
In the prince Machiavelli states, rulers must "make himself loved and feared by his subjects, followed and respected by his soldiers". (Machiavelli 1984 p27). The ruler, hence, is vindicated in doing whatsoever is essential to preserve the country, even if it is unfair. A Prince's most important duty is the protection of his rule and the protection of his subjects. Machiavelli states, "A prince thus, must comprise of no other object or idea, nor attain proficiency in anything except war, its organizations, as well as its discipline." (Machiavelli 1984 p 47)
Another quality of a prince is that it is better to be considered merciful than cruel, but mercy must never be misused. Machiavelli said that the art of war was the subject of most importance to the ruler. A prince can be attacked in two ways: internally, by conspiracies, and externally, by enemies. Machiavelli states in the prince, "A prince ought to not be troubled if he incurs criticism for his unkindness so long as he keeps his subjects united as well as dedicated" (Machiavelli 1984 p 5).
He can protect himself from conspiracies by means of avoiding extreme dislike. It is furthermore stated that no prince should neutralize his subjects or else he will have to make use of mercenary troops as alternative. Mercenaries are from foreign countries and are not fighting for their country so they are not loyal and they will not care whether they win or lose. Those leaders who follow a cause for money are not to be trusted. Those who are not after money (Federico 1958). Machiavelli felt that these were essential means in for turning into a successful ruler. He also felt protection had little significance and thought that the best fortress is to be created in the love of the people. He states in the prince that , "Men are unappreciative, indecisive, liars, as well as deceivers, they avoid danger and are gluttonous for profit; even as you treat them in a good way they are yours. (Machiavelli 1984 p 54)
'The Prince' was his key contribution to the theories for leadership in his day. To be a successful leader, Machiavelli believed that you primarily had to be able to deceive. A good leader has to appear to be good, but when necessary they must be