After entering the keyword “management” into WordPress I unexpectedly came across a post entitled “A lesson from the Mafia on buisness strategy” accompanied with a photo of The Godfather. At first I expected the post to be an entertaining article filled with random parallels between the mafia and more legitimate (and legal) forms of business but I was surprised to find that the post had results from experiments conducted with actual business managers. Such experiments found that managers do in fact keep their “enemies” close and do so in a highly physical way.
The philosophy of keeping friends close and enemies closer is a widely known idea dating back to Machiavelli’s The Prince but the science behind it is far less known. In the experiment mentioned it was found that leaders instinctively feel the need move toward people they identify as threatening opponents, placing their chairs 15 inches closer on average! While this strategy can be highly effective for keeping an eye on the competition it can also have the adverse effect of overwhelming a skilled subordinate the leader feels threatened by. I agree with the author’s conclusion that the most successful managers are the ones who have the ability to give their talented colleagues space and freedom to thrive without being micromanaged.