Did you know that the month of July is named after Julius Caesar? You’ve got to be pretty special to have a month named after you. To be fair, Julius Caesar was pretty special and a very gifted leader. Here are some tips you can take from Julius Caesar. Play your cards right and maybe you will get a month renamed for you. If you are impatient, you can buy a star and have that named after you for about $20.
Julius Caesar began his leadership journey ignobly in a riches to rags to riches story. At 16 years of age, Julius’ father died and Julius was thrust into a civil war with his father’s enemy, Sulla. Sulla won the war and Julius lost his rights and wealth, even his wife’s dowry. To his credit, he refused to divorce his wife and the two went on the run and into hiding.
Lesson 1: Leaders have the integrity to do the right thing in hard situations. It would have been easy, convenient, and arguably practical to divorce his wife. Instead, Julius chose to honor his commitment to his wife and take the more difficult “high road.” Furthermore, Julius’ political career was notably more honest than most Roman politicians, at least at the beginning of his career.
Julius’ mother was able to secure a return to home for Julius. After his return he left to join the military. His skills as a soldier, plus his winsome personality with peers and officers allowed him to rise through the ranks rapidly. Julius is noteworthy for his ability to communicate effectively and winsomely. He was known for choosing his words wisely and crafting compelling messages.
His communication skills were also shown with his fellow soldiers. He knew the names of most of his soldiers. He communicated his commitment to them, and Rome, by battling alongside them on the front lines of war.
Lesson 2: Communicate well with your words and actions. Your ability to lead is directly proportional to your ability to communicate publicly and inter-personally. The people you lead and work with want to be known, seen, and valued.
Julius Caesar, champion of the common man & opponent of oppression! Ironic, I know. Early in his career, Julius vigorously attacked and prosecuted corrupt politicians. His conquest of Gaul and vigorous defense of Rome, are reputed to be acts of loyalty to Rome and to the people of Rome. He was also generous to his allies. He rewarded them generously, and shared the wealth and power of his victories with them so they retired wealthy.
Lesson 3: Be generous in compensation and celebration. Who doesn’t like gifts and parties, right? People actually have a need to celebrate. As a leader, you can meet that need by celebrating individuals and accomplishments. You can take that a step further by compensating people fairly and generously. Remember, compensation doesn’t just mean money. There are many other ways that you can compensate people for their hard work, so be creative.
Alas, all good things must come to an end. Julius brought his good thing to a quick end when he declared himself dictator for life. Alas, so much for generosity, humility, champion of the people. Despite his popularity, power, and wealth, “for life” turned out to be about one month.
Lesson 4: Stay humble and keep putting people first. No one wants to be controlled. No one wants to work for a dictator. Let your leadership be marked by service to others, not others’ service to you.
Julius caesar exhibited many excellent leadership traits and he is a leader worth knowing and noting. There is much we can learn from what he did right and what he did wrong.
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