Michael J. Kerrigan

The Prince

Scanning the daily news confirms widespread pessimism that we are suffering from a crisis of confidence in those who are charged with leading our nation’s political, business and cultural institutions. Levels of trust in our leaders are at an all time low perhaps because many of today’s leaders may place self-interest ahead of the public interest.

In studying character development I have discovered leadership development has much the same aims. Leadership development implies developing good leaders that are both ethical and effective. I agree with the view that leadership is judged on only two criteria: ethics and effectiveness. Perhaps character development should be judged in a similar fashion?

I have sadly concluded that after 30 plus years of lobbying in Washington D.C., many Members adhere to Machiavelli’s The Prince, one of the more famous books on politics and leadership. In my view, the influence of leaders has been diminished… Continue reading

As a Washington lobbyist I was in the advice business for 32 years. Often I counseled my clients that one can better understand the actions of Members of Congress knowing they are acting on the basis of their own self-interest, i.e. getting re-elected.

In the past, I have noted that it was the Scottish moral philosopher Adam Smith who best articulated the principle of self-interest. In politics as well as economics, both systems are designed on this normative principle.

Yet in studying the large leadership industry with an almost limitless number of books, articles, speeches, workshops, blogs, conferences storytelling, training sessions are filled with good intentions, inspirational stories, fables and myths. It is my observation, much of the leadership industry seems to emphasize feel good leadership over evidence-based science.

The Machiavelli school of politics as taught in The Prince, describe politics as an arena where following virtue often leads… Continue reading

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Courage in America has been aurally transcribed for the visually impaired, thanks to Volunteers of Vacaville, California. Tel: 704.448.6841 ext 2044.