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The Ruthless Leader: Three Classics of Strategy and Power



The Ruthless Leader: Three Classics of Strategy and Power

Alistair McAlpine (Editor)

ISBN: 978-0-471-37247-9 March 2000 261 Pages

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The Ruthless Leader

What could a fifth-century b.c. Chinese general's treatise on military strategy and a fifteenth-century Florentine satirist/philosopher's essay on how to be an effective potentate have in common with advice from a former Treasurer and Deputy Chairman of Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party? More to the point, what could these texts contain that would be of value to a businessperson trying to get ahead in today's volatile, globalized business world? Quite a bit, as it turns out.

The Prince, The Servant, and The Art of War are unrivaled sources for anyone who seeks to understand the elaborate, often brutal, rituals of strategic conduct in any day and age. Each was written by an undeniably perceptive observer of humanity, and each offers unvarnished truths about human nature, especially as it expresses itself in an organization-whether it be political, military, or corporate. In each classic, the author builds on his experiences to develop timeless principles for exploiting human foibles in order to promote one's own self-interest, while at the same time doing what is best for the organizational bottom line.

In the introduction to The Ruthless Leader, Alistair McAlpine weaves a thematic thread that connects the important themes common to all the texts in this trilogy. He mines them for their most powerful insights, compares them to one another historically and topically, and places them in a contemporary context that makes it easy for today's readers to understand how they apply to the day-to-day working of a modern business organization.

Call them ruthless or simply pragmatic, but these classics comprise an indispensable survival guide for anyone who wants to swim with the sharks without being eaten alive.

Alistair McAlpine was Treasurer and Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party for fifteen years under Margaret Thatcher. Active in the worlds of commerce and the arts, he is a commentator in both fields. He was a regular columnist for the Spectator and Express on Sunday, and a frequent contributor to a number of national newspapers. He is the author of several books, including The New Machiavelli (Wiley) and The Servant. Lord McAlpine was, for many years, the director of his family's construction firm, Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons, Ltd.

Timeless Truths of Strategy...

Machiavelli's The Prince:

". . . if a prince who has not great judgment of his own consults with more than one, their counsels will never agree, nor he have ever the cunning to unite them. Every man will advise according to his own interest or caprice, and he not have the parts either to correct or discover it: and other counselors are not to be found, for men will always prove bad, unless by necessity they are compelled to be good. So then it is clear-That good counsels, from whomsoever they come, proceed rather from the wisdom of the prince than the prince's from the goodness of his counsels."
Alistair McAlpine's The Servant:

"It is important to understand that an accepted fact is more powerful than the truth. . . . The Servant is not a seeker after truth, but one who will take the view that best suits the Prince. The Servant will then promote that view until it becomes an established fact. As the argument moves away from the truth to the perceived truth, so the Servant has the evidence of his newly made 'facts' to base his argument on. Even though it may be far from the truth, the fact, once established, will be generally agreed by all."
Sun Tzu's The Art of War:

". . . to fight and conquer all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."
The Ruthless Leader
Introduction (A. McAlpine).

The Prince (N. Machiavelli).

The Servant (A. McAlpine).

The Art of War (S. Tzu).