Leadershipin Ancient CivilizationsDuring the period of the Roman Republicand the Roman Empire, different leaders exhibited different styles of leadershipand employed different political strategies. In addition, these leaderscame to power and maintained their control in their own unique ways. Each leader seemed to have his own agenda, which set the tone for thatera. Five prominent leaders of this time period were Agricola, Augustus,Julius Caesar, and the brothers Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus.
Thepoint to be made with respect to these particular men is related to theobvious correlation between the nature of a leaders agenda and the impactof his reign. In the end, a rulers fate was dependent not on hisagenda, but on style and strategy with which he pushed his agenda. Those leaders whose methods were completely altruistic were heralded asgreat leaders, while those with devious and/or unethical methods of pushingtheir agendas were hastily assassinated. First consider Tiberius Gracchus. It is imperative to analyze his style of leadership and his political strategies. During his term as tribune, Tiberius major goal was to pass a land reformbill.Order now
This bill was biased toward the masses. Tiberius triedfairly and squarely to gain the support of the Roman senate, but this effortwas to no avail. Tiberius then resorted to unfavorable tactics whenhe impeached another tribune, Octavius, the major opponent of Tiberiusbill. Thus Tiberius willingly destroyed the long-held and quite favorednotion of an immune tribune. However, this is what the common peoplewanted.
Tiberius big mistake was blatantly opposing, thus disrespectingthe Roman senate. As a result, the senate assassinated Tiberius. The lesson to be learned here is not that Tiberius agenda was constructedout of self-interest or greed. Tiberius simply wanted to help thecommon people. However, Tiberius methods were not proper for thattime in that place. And it is probable that Tiberius could easilyhave been persuaded to compromise.
Thus, Tiberius downfall was nothis agenda, but his style and political strategy. A different example of the same principleis summed up with the story of Tiberius younger brother, Gaius Gracchus. Gaius worked not to appease the senate, but to appease the people. Although this seems quite noble of him, it was still a mistake to opposethe senate.
Granted, this notion is counter-intuitive. Onewould expect that the senate is supposed to help the people, and sinceGaius was helping the people, the senate should favor him. One wouldalso expect that because it was the common people and not the senate thatelected him, that he should have unwavering loyalty to the people. However, one must not look at the situationwith a 1990s, American, free will and liberty, democratic eyes.
Rome was not a democracy. The senate commanded respect, and to disregardthe senate, whether the people were in favor of you or not, was not a wisething to do. Thus, Gaius was also assassinated, like his brother,by the senate. It does not seem fair that Gaius was killed, but suchis life, and had Gaius employed a more “senate-friendly” strategy of passinghis laws, it is probable that his fate would not have been what it was. One final example of this is Julius Caesar.
Caesar was a warlord and a dictator, but if one can look past that, asridiculous as it sounds, then one would also notice that Caesar did a lotof good for Rome. As dictator, Caesar saw to a series of rapid reformsin many areas of Roman life. He scaled down his large army by settlingmany of his soldiers in newly founded colonies and extended Roman civilizationinto some of the provinces. His most lasting reform was one by whichwe still regulate our lives the establishment of a calendar based onthe old Egyptian reckoning of 365 days, with one day added every fourthyear.
This “Julian” calendar lasted until 1582. Then, there were those leaders whose styleof leadership and political strategy fit perfectly into the framework ofsociety, such that they were considered to be great leaders. Theseleaders were Agricola and Augustus. Agricola was an army commanderfor most of his relatively long life. He was regarded to be one ofthe best men anywhere, and he was revered by all.
Yet, being an armycommander does require some killing and punishing. Lets be real. How is it that Agricola was, by the nature of his profession, a killer,yet was so respected, while Tiberius and Gaius strove to help people, andwere assassinated?The answer goes back to style. Agricolasstyle and political strategy was simple: do the job. If Agricolahad a goal, then he simply did the best he could to attain that goal.
He was incorruptible and straightforward. He was not devious, norwas he unethical. People loved to see these qualities in a leader,and as a result, they loved Agricola. There was no difficulty aboutrecognizing him as a good man, and one could willingly believe him to bea great man. He had fully attained those true blessings which dependupon a mans own character.
He had held the consulship and bore thedecorations of triumph: what more could fortune have added? He hadno desire for vast wealth, and he had a handsome future. It is likely that even if he made a decisionthat was initially looked down upon by the people, the people still knewthat Agricola was altruistically making the decisions that he felt werebest. He would not have made a decision under the influence of somebodyelse for political reasons. The citizenry could trust Agricola, whichis something that can be said about only a handful of leaders. Clearly,the reason he was held in such high regard wasnt that he conquered a greatdeal of territory, or that he was a superior general, although those thingshelp.
It was Agricolas way of leading that people admired and respected. One last example of a similar type ofleader was Augustus Caesar. Augustus defined the epitome of goodleadership. Tiberius, Gaius, and Caesar all couldhave learned some very valuable, life saving lessons from Augustus. The most important lesson to be learned, perhaps, is moderation. Augustus was very much like Agricola in that he considered a very goodleader.
However, Augustus was emperor, and he had the power to dowhatever he wanted, despite whether the people wanted it or not. Why didnt he?Well, he actually did do what he wanted. However, in accordance with the main point we have been discussing, hedid so with a particular style and political strategy, so as not to offsetsocial order. He ruled very subtly.
He saw to it that he gotwhat he wanted, yet he did so with such caution that it was disguised asinterest in providing for the good of the citizens. Therefore, Augustusreign supports the theory that a ruler can drive a selfish agenda, yetas long as the style and political strategy of the leader in question isfavored by the people, then the leader can still be considered a good ruler. Therefore, upon considering the lives ofTiberius and Gaius Gracchus, Julius Caesar, Agricola, and Augustus Caesar,it is clear that people in the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire considereda leaders particular actions more that his agenda when deciding whetheror not a leader is worthy of being called “great” or being assassinated. Obviously, a leaders agenda and accomplishments are important factors,but we have seen with these five particular leaders that sometimes accomplishmentsdo not matter. What matters greatly are the steps taken by a leaderto obtain goals or satisfy certain needs.