The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.

The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him. – Niccolò Machiavelli

"I'm not sure about the King's adviser. Is there anything in her head, or is it hollow?"

What does that mean?
What kind of people does a leader surround themselves with? Is it a bunch of “Yes-Men” or are they subject matter experts, ready and willing to go toe-to-toe with their ruler? Are they meek, fawning, pretty, in short, little more than toys for the ego of the ruler? Are there guards, and do they dominate the chamber, or are they discreetly placed?

These things can tell you much about a ruler, their demeanor, their expectations and their intelligence. If everyone else is bowing frequently, or praising the ruler, you might be able to guess about some level of insecurity. Same if everyone defers to the leader as ‘The wisest of us all!’ That might be a clue to their true intelligence (as well as wisdom).

Why are appearances important?  
If you were going to a leader to ask for money, and the place was bare rock, with a rough wooden chair and a small table holding a ceramic mug, and the people there were wearing rough clothes, you might not expect much. Compare this to a marble palace, with gold inlay and the people wearing the finest fabrics and drinking from bejeweled goblets. Slightly different vibe, right?

This also holds true today. What does your boss’ office (or cube) look like, and how much of their personality is displayed just in the decor? Look at Donald Trump and the people he has around him. How about world leaders like Kim Jong Il and the late Muammar Gaddafi Who do they surround themselves with, and what can you deduce from that?

Where can I apply this in my life?
With the recent demise of Libyan Dictator Muammar Gaddafi (we’ll know how to spell it when they carve it in his tombstone, I guess), this seemed an interesting subject to address. He was certainly flamboyant, a quirky dresser, a bit of a megalomaniac, more than a tiny bit paranoid, and quite the ruthless dictator.

Consider some of people he surrounded himself with, and what that tells us about him. I don’t know about you, but his entourage seemed kind of odd to me. What would you think of someone who surrounded himself with beautiful women, but claimed celibacy? Add to that, the all-female “Amazon” bodyguards? Changing his clothes multiple times each day? I would be cautious in dealing with someone with these traits, wouldn’t you?

Let’s consider another scenario. You’re an interstellar traveler and salesman. You want to pitch your products to Jabba the Hut, of Star Wars fame.  What can we say about him, based only on who he surrounded himself with when he held court? We can skip the snacks as a cultural oddity, but what about his weak-minded lieutenant? What does the attitude of all the staff and guards tell you about his mental state, intelligence and temper? And we have yet to get to Princess Leia in the metal bikini yet.

Now lets get back to reality. If you do any business (and even an interview is a business, where the product is you and the sale is getting a job), you will see people and the people they surround themselves with, as well as the things they like. This gives you a clue about what you are dealing with.

Is the desk spotless, everything in folders, the in box or the out box, or is it a complete jumble, stacks leaned over, books and magazines scattered on every surface? These are also clues. Are there pictures of a family, group shots with lots of friends, or lots of shots of them by themselves? Do these things give you a clue as to their state of mind?

Now let’s consider how you want to present yourself. Does your office or cubicle look like a printing press exploded in it? Do you have it filled with toys? Are the shelves full of books and magazines related to work or related to your hobbies? What do the appearance of your work area say about you?

What does your house look like? Does it look like a laundry-mat exploded? Are there Rodents of Unusual Size eating last night’s leftover pizza? Do you look dashing or do you look deranged? What do the appearance of your personal space and your personal appearance say about you?

Now let’s put the quote into a more precise setting. You’re hanging out with some friends and a person you met briefly earlier that day spots you and approaches. They look at the people you have surrounded yourself with. What do they think of you, your intelligence and your taste? Reverse the roles and think of yourself walking up to someone you met earlier in the day, and seeing them with their friends. What do you think of them, their intelligence and their taste?

How the world perceives you is often based on what you look like, and the people you have hanging around you. If you’re on business, don’t make the team look foolish by looking inappropriate. If you’re out with friends, try not to act too dumb. Just the sort of things you hope your friends and colleagues will do for you when you are the one who is the leader and being examined, right?

From: Twitter, @PhilosophyQuotz
confirmed at :
Photo by christophercarfi


About philosiblog

I am a thinker, who is spending some time examining those short twitter quotes in greater detail on my blog.
This entry was posted in character, discovery, governance, intelligence, leadership, observation and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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