Cicero/Biden vs. Caesar/Trump

A Tale of Two Leadership Styles

Mark Goulston

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In the storied annals of history, parallels often emerge that cast a spotlight on the leadership styles and dynamics of various eras. In this discourse, we draw on similarities between two sets of influential leaders separated by millennia yet surprisingly similar in approach: Marcus Tullius Cicero and President Joe Biden, contrasted with Gaius Julius Caesar and Donald Trump.

There’s a proverb that states, “When Cicero spoke, people listened; when Caesar spoke, people marched.” The same can be said when comparing Biden to Trump. The rhetorical styles of Biden and Trump echo those of Cicero and Caesar, respectively, and provide a lens into understanding the nature of their leadership and its implications.

Cicero, the great Roman orator, was renowned for his intellectual approach to governance, grounded in philosophy and the pursuit of common understanding. He invited people into dialogues, engaging their rational minds in the discourse of state matters. Similarly, Biden communicates with an empathetic, connective style that conveys his concern for the feelings of those he leads. His tone and delivery suggest a leader who speaks to and with his constituents, particularly during or after tragedies.

Caesar, on the other hand, was a military general whose commanding speeches inspired action, perhaps at times without the scrutiny of deeper thought. The echo of this approach reverberates in Trump’s communication style, which often involves speaking over or at people. This is a manner of discourse that can seem fitting in crisis situations, where the need for decisive action may supersede thoughtful dialogue.

Trump’s speeches often present an image of perpetual crisis, a powerful tactic that allows him to maintain his authoritarian approach. The constant stirring of the pot, especially when fueled by the proliferation of conspiracy theories, creates an atmosphere where his base feels compelled to rally behind him. There’s a palpable sense of urgency that keeps his supporters on their toes, ready to march at a moment’s notice, much like Caesar’s legions.

This constant state of perceived crisis, coupled with authorian rhetoric, is a key factor in Trump’s hold over his base. It presents an illusion of a…

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Mark Goulston

Dr. Goulston is the world's #1 listening coach and author of "Just Listen" which became the top book on listening in the world