Six Aspects of Leadership Learned From Caesar Augustus

In my last letter I mentioned that the month of July was named for Julius Caesar. Julius was the great uncle of Gaius Octavius whom we now know as Caesar Augustus. Young Gaius would follow his Uncle’s footsteps to the leadership Rome, his own month, and more…

Still in his early teens, young Gaius so impressed his great uncle Julius when they fought together in battle that Julius, in his will, appointed Gaius the heir of his political and personal fortune. Gaius had reached the ripe old age of 17 when he was thrust into the epicenter of Roman politics when Uncle Julius was murdered.

By forging strong alliances, Gaius was able to overcome his political rivals and put down a civil war. During this time, the Roman Senate conferred on Gaius the name, Augustus; exalted one. Gaius’ decisive victory was finally achieved when he defeated the forces of Mark Antony and Cleopatra 13 years after Julius Caesar’s death.

Gaius returned to Rome a hero while Antony and Cleopatra returned to Egypt and committed suicide. Not only was Gaius a hero, he also captured the better part of Cleopatra’s fortune. With his claim that his victory was “for the glory of the Roman Republic,” and not for personal power, he secured the hearts of the roman people. With Cleopatra’s fortune he rewarded his soldiers and thus secured the loyalty of his soldiers. It also didn’t hurt that he claimed to live a modest and frugal life.

Now 31 years old, the Roman senate confers on Gaius the name Caesar Augustus and his vision for the transformation of Rome is in high gear. Consider these 6 aspects of leadership:

• “Corporate mergers” and growth: He annexed Egypt, parts of central Europe, Judea, and other areas of the middle East.
• Culture: Passed laws to encourage strong marriages and also renewed religious practices. He actually outlawed adultery (despite his own numerous infidelities) and even banished his own daughter when he learned of her many trysts with the elite of Rome.
• Fiscal responsibility: Augustus institutes a census and taxes to pay for the vast Roman road system and infrastructure.
• Communication systems: Implemented a postal service
• “Human Resources”: Even police and fire fighters were all part of Caesar’s grand plan to enforce the rules and care for the people.
• Humility: Augustus was proclaimed the first Roman emperor, he actually never claimed the title for himself and as stated, he apparently lived a modest and frugal life, at least as far as emperors are concerned.

Fun fact: in 8 B.C., Augustus (or the Roman Senate depending on your source) decided to change the name of the month of Sextilius to August. Nice for him, but not nearly as much fun to say.

Such was the influence and success of Caesar Augustus that after his death:
• The next 5 Roman emperors were relatives.
• The Roman Empire lasted for 1500 years.
• The Roman Senate declared that he, like his uncle Julius, was in fact a god.

I don’t know whether or not “god-status” is on your vision board. I do know that like all of us, Augustus was a flawed man who also did a lot of things very well when it comes to leadership.

Whether or not you want to be a god, you can be a good leader when you lead with humility. Remember that communication is the life blood of your organization and it sustains your culture relative to the strength of your communication practices. That creates clarity about the culture you want and clarity creates safety. Provide resources to apply the “rules” and care for the people you lead. See that your employees and stake holders are appreciated and compensated well. Will you be the next leader to have a month named in your honor? Only time will tell.

In the mean time, what is your next growth step in your leadership?

What are you learning about leadership? If your next leadership lessons include communication, strategy, mental fitness, motivation, I’d love to talk with you.  “Let’s Connect” to schedule a free 30 minute coaching session where we can explore your leadership next steps.

Committed to your growth,
Michael Anderson

To explore Emotional Intelligence, strengths-based leadership, and mental fitness further  "Let's Connect"  to set up a complimentary 30-minute coaching call.

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