Leading With Emotional Intelligence: Managing Institutional Uncertainty in Ancient Rome


This case encourages students to consider the emotional effect of a crisis on a community and the role of a leader in managing this effect. When a crisis disrupts the normal functioning of an institution, institutional leadership may no longer feel secure in making decisions or in what those decisions should be. This can lead to feelings of anxiety and mistrust among members of the institution, which can harm relationships within the community and the long-term integrity of the community itself. In this case, students will consider who becomes a leader in a crisis, how a crisis can create institutional uncertainty, the short- and long-term effects of institutional uncertainty, and how a leader with good emotional intelligence can better resolve a crisis, while a leader with poor emotional intelligence can cause additional harm. Ancient Rome entered a period of crisis during a civil war involving the general Julius Caesar. The civil war disrupted Rome’s political institution, the Senate, because Caesar’s actions produced uncertainty among members of the Roman Senate, causing anxiety in the city of Rome. The way Caesar managed this anxiety led to frustration and mistrust within the Roman community both during the crisis and after the crisis ended.

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