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Charisma makes difference in leadership, separates different types of leaders

Beware the Ides of March. This examination in leadership will deal with the anti-Augustus figure literature has defied nearly as much as his own countrymen who literally defied him. I am of course speaking of Julius Caesar, Augustus’ adoptive father and a man whom Shakespeare has made as famous as Homer’s Achilles.

While everyone knows who Caesar is, few actually know anything about the man. It is true; Caesar was named dictator for life, which is the essence of the contrast between the Caesar and Augustus’ leadership methods. This example is, however, not the focus of this issue; instead I will focus on the unique leadership traits Caesar exhibited. As the suggested, Caesar was by far one of the most charismatic individuals in history.

At one moment or another, we have all known someone in our lives who was seemingly perfect. This individual was probably intelligent, likable, attractive, successful and everyone loved them, except for when they secretly hated them: enter Gaius Julius Caesar.

There is no way to describe him as anything less than perfect and politically untouchable. The man could do anything he wanted and he got away with it. A great example of this being the rumors surrounding Caesar’s preferred romantic endeavors. I’ll leave the details to be explained in a different forum, but the point is that these rumors would have destroyed any other politician’s career, both then and now. Because this was Caesar, and he was so cool and charismatic, these rumors did nothing to detract from his likability.

It is fair to want to know what he did that was so “cool.” My favorite example comes from an early period in his life. On a return trip to Rome, Caesar was captured by pirates in the Aegean Sea. When these pirates thought to ransom Caesar for 20 talents of silver, Caesar decided to barter the ransom price. Submitting to his request, the pirates agreed with Caesar’s demand to raise the ransom price to 50 talents of silver. Yes, Caesar demanded a higher ransom price because he would have been insulted if the great Caesar was ransomed for anything less. Further to this point, while Caesar was a prisoner of the pirates, he was the life of the boat. Caesar would both dance and sing for the pirates. In one show, the pirates became irate and insulted Caesar. Despite being their prisoner, he promised the pirates upon his release that he would raise a navy, capture the pirates, and crucify them all for insulting him.

It turns out Caesar is a man of his word.

Another great example of the “cool” Caesar is in reference to the quote “Et tu, Brute?” Now, unless you respect the literary and fictional writings of a 16th century playwright over the views of contemporary Roman historians, there is no evidence that Caesar actually said this. Instead, he said something much better when he looked upon Brutus. Before the reveal, there are two things we must know about Caesar and Brutus’ relationship. While Caesar was not old enough to be Brutus’ father, had romantic encounters with Brutus’ mother. While Caesar was being stabbed to death, what he actually said was the Greek phrase “Kai su, teknon?” When translated into English this means “You too, child?” Yes, Gaius Julius Caesar is so cool that he invented the ‘yo momma’ joke.

Caesar was so cool, so charismatic you could not stop the guy by spreading rumors; you could not abduct him without him coming out ahead. You couldn’t even shank the guy without him getting the last word. These examples I have provided are not only comical, but also extremely relevant to life in politics. The level of charisma needed to brush off both intellectual and physical attacks is an important skill for any great leader. Caesar happened to be the best at it and this was what let him rise to the top of the political spectrum in Rome.

For the next examination in leadership, we will discuss the only man who can challenge Augustus as the greatest leader of all time. This man may lack some of Augustus’ political savvy, but then again, he may not. The questions that surround this man are so immense and all-encompassing it is difficult to gain a true measure of his qualities. While he may be surrounded in a shroud of questions, one truth does exist; anyone that ever lived before the invention of gun powder can be happy they did not meet him on the battlefield.

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