4 Leadership lessons from Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar was a Roman statesman and general who played a significant role in the death of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. He was also a biographer and author of Latin prose.

In 60 BC, Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey formed the First Triumvirate, a federal alliance that governed Roman politics for several years. Their efforts to amass power as Populares were attacked by the Optimates within the Roman Senate, among them Cato the Younger with the frequent support of Cicero. Caesar rose to become one of the most charismatic politicians in the Roman Republic through a number of his achievements, prominently his achievements in the Gallic Wars, completed by 51 BC. During this time, Caesar became the first Roman general to pass both the English Channel and the Rhine River when he built a bridge across the Rhine and crossed the Channel to penetrate Britain. Caesar’s wars spread Rome’s territory to Britain and past Gaul. These victories granted him unmatched military vigor and loomed to surpass the standing of Pompey, who had realigned himself with the Senate after the death of Crassus in 53 BC. With the Gallic Wars ended, the Senate ordered Caesar to step down from his military command and return to Rome. Leaving his command in Gaul meant expending his immunity from being charged as a criminal for conducting unsanctioned wars. As a result, Caesar found himself with no other options but to cross the Rubicon with the 13th Legion in 49 BC, leaving his province and illegally entering Roman Italy underarms. This began Caesar’s civil war, and his victory in the war by 45 BC put him in an unusual position of leadership and authority.

Here are 4 Leadership lessons from Julius Caesar

  1. Lead, don’t control: When Julius Caesar led his troops, he did so not with the usual cold, formal jargon that one would assume to hear in an army but he managed his soldiers as equals, when he greeted his troops he referred to them as ‘Comrades’, never ‘men’ or ‘soldiers’. Caesar realized that to gain a man’s confidence and support he must be distinct from that of the norm. He trained alongside his men with the same dynamic intensity they did and that he knew all of his centurion’s names, building with them an informal harmony. Caesar knew that in doing so he would grasp their support and appreciation and gave his troops the reasoning that they were fighting alongside Caesar, not merely for him.
  2. Political Awareness: Leaders must have a sixth sense for politics, such as a sense of timing, and ability to research, the gift of acting out what is really valuable as opposed to merely diversionary, a foundation for predicting an opponent’s likely behavior in differing scenarios. Caesar was a politically aware leader. He waited for the right opportunity to cross the river after building the bridge and ended up conquering Great Britain with little to none opposition.
  3. The start is always a humble experience: Caesar understood this. He managed to climb the leadership ladder even after losing his inheritance in a coup as a young man. A lot of young managers just give up due to circumstances. Remember, nothing can ever stop you from excelling in your industry. Failures are temporary. Circumstances are bound to change. History has proven it. Caesar has proved it. 
  4. Be Greatest, not great: Some people are just glad to be there. Others are okay with staying in the top 5. Others yet are satisfied to be #2. Leaders don’t belong to any of these levels. They want to be #1. It’s temperament, nothing more. It can’t be forged or acquired. Caesar went for his maiden civil war because he was being forced to stand back by one of his allies. Caesar wanted to be the greatest and answerable to none. This is the reason history remembers him as one of the greatest leaders in the history of mankind. 

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