Roman leadership for business today

Imagine Julius Caesar running a modern day business class. Despite the ridiculous punishments imposed on students who might not have used the right font on their essays, we have to believe: he would probably come up with some GREAT leadership initiatives. He ruled a mighty state! So it’s not crazy to think that students nowadays would be able to look at how he maintained his empire and find lessons there for running a contemporary business.


Julius Caesar: one of the most famous figures of Roman history, and also a business role model.

According to the Harvard Gazette,business school faculty members Emma Dench and Frances Frei joined together to create a new elective class called All Roads Lead to Rome: Leadership Lessons from Antiquity.

In this course, students read literature from such sources as Julius Caesar, Tacitus, and Plutarch. Through these readings, important ideas such as success, loyalty, and power make the students question business ethics today. Denuch admires these past Roman leaders, explaining:

The Romans grappled so actively with a very central issue of leadership: How much is a leader for themselves especially as a monarch or how much are they for the people as a whole, or part of the people as a whole?

So what is considered leadership today as a head of a company? Maybe a business leader shouldn’t manifest the cruel dictatorship of a Roman official, but should demonstrate the ambition of one. It is up to students to decide where these ideas from the syllabus fit into their business education. Only after they’ve worked out the chains of relevance between the ancient sources and the contemporary business world will they be able to make sure of these lessons in modern Wall Street.

Hat-tip to alumna Erin McDonagh for bringing this article to our attention.

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