by John Dodge

New Book by Gartner Analyst Urges CIOs to Adopt Machiavellian Tactics

Nov 05, 20133 mins

"The Wolf in CIO's Clothing: A Machiavellian Strategy for Successful IT Leadership"

Gartner analyst Tina Nunno takes brass knuckles to CIO politics and leadership. In her new book “The Wolf in CIO’s clothing”, she says CIOs must adopt an animal identity to survive in the IT jungle.

Here’s some excerpts from Amazon about her book, realeased Oct. 4:    

“Technology may be black and white, but successful leadership demands an ability to exist in the grey. Drawing on her experience with hundreds of CIOs, Nunno charts a viable way to master the Machiavellian principles of power, manipulation, love and war. Through compelling case stories, her approach demonstrates how CIOs and IT leaders can adjust their leadership styles in extreme situations for their own success and that of their teams. 

You’re either predator or prey, and the animal you most resemble determines your position on the food chain.”

Nunno conducted a contest to come up with a title her for her book in a July blog post in which she also explains the book’s premise and origins. Maybe she could do a series: Machiavelli and the cloud; Machiavelli and BYOD; Machiavelli and Big Data. I digress. 

ZDNet blogger Michael Krigsman read the book (I have not) and has misgivings as most of us would about her advice: “manipulation is more appropriate than influence and honesty.”

Consider that Machiavelli is a figure in the game Assassin’s Creed stemming from his real or imagined membership in a group known as the Italian Brotherhood of Assassins.    

Yes, politics, manipulation, manuevering, deception and predatory tactics are part the corporate scene (assasination in the literal sense is not), but isn’t there something fundamentally wrong when honesty is less valued than manipulation? Yes, although you can endlessly ‘grey-ify’ this debate. 

However, enlightened work places in the dot com space at least at the outset seem to reject the political anything goes environment. Is warm and fuzziness a temporary facade eventually superceded by animalistic tendencies in the workplace? I think so.

Are human instincts to eradicate rivals a fact of life? It’s perfectly fine for one company to put a rival out of business. Why shouldn’t this same business maxim apply to executives slugging it out for turf, resources and influence?     

Nunno’s book is an acknowledgement of that.      

Last week, my wife and I flew back from Florence where Niccolo Machiavelli lived from 1469-1527. It’s a wonderful city, which for centuries was at the forefront of religion, culture and politics. Machiavelli’s remains are in a sarcophagus next to ones bearing Michaelangelo, Gallileo and Rossini in the Santa Croce church.  

Powerful stuff. Florence’s legacy lingers and now extends into the office of the CIO, apparently.

It would send a powerful message if you placed a little statue of Machiavelli on your desk. Do you have the stomach to back that up with action? Maybe you don’t have to. Just make your colleagues, subordinates and rivals think you will. Very Machiavellian.