Cicero and His Idea of Political Leadership

Can the new political class draw inspiration from the classical moral and pedagogical tradition?

The political class, in many countries, is going through difficult times. Many polls show unprecedented feelings of disaffection and distrust on the part of citizens. The causes are to be found in various factors, but above all the economic crises that would require more timely responses from the institutions, internal party disputes, and the lack of a generational change capable of creating a credible future for a country are considered more decisive.

Whatever the causes, the distrust towards politicians therefore seems evident today. The picture that emerges on the perception of political leadership is disheartening. The credibility of leaders and political parties is at an all-time low. The belief is spreading that they are the cause of the problems and not the solution because they are perceived as absent, detached, and distant from the real concerns of citizens, not adequate to promote real change, as they are unable to change, first of all, themselves. And this happens in a historical era called to great changes, of innovation, of almost epochal decisions, of initiative and determination in tackling issues that have been neglected or deliberately postponed for too long.

Could the classical moral and pedagogical tradition make a contribution to the formation of a new political class that is more efficient and, above all, oriented towards the welfare of citizens?

If yes, what then are the qualities and skills which the contemporary political leadership should have?

Cicero argued that: “the fortune of each state depends on the nature of its laws and the customs of its leaders”. For this reason, he considered the moral formation of the men called to represent a country, with their behavior and decisions, fundamental. For the Romans, therefore, the formation of an adequate political leadership was considered an essential condition, and we all know where they have arrived.

Philosophical and juridical preparation and full mastery of the rhetorical techniques of persuasion were the essential ingredients, just as moral training was fundamental for Cicero.

Unfortunately, the ideal of the politician that had the classical world seems far away.


Aldo Delli Paoli
Aldo Delli Paoli
Aldo is a lawyer and teacher of law & Economic Sciences, "lent" to the finance world. He has worked, in fact, 35 years long for a multinational company of financial service in the auto sector, where he held various roles, until that of CEO. In the corporate field, he has acquired skills and held positions as Credit Manager, Human Resource Manager, Team leader for projects of Acquisition & Merger, branch opening, company restructuring, outplacement, legal compliance, analysis and innovation of organizational processes, business partnerships, relations with Trade Unions and Financial Control Institutions. After leaving the company, he continued as an external member of the Board of Directors e, at the same time, he has gone back practicing law and was a management consultant for various companies. He has been also a columnist for newspapers specializing in labor law, automotive services and work organization. His interests include human behavior in the organizational environment, to the neuroscience, the impact of new technologies, the fate of the planet and people facing poverty or war scenarios. He loves traveling, reading, is passionate about many sports, follows the NBA and practices tennis.

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  1. Thanks for your comment Andre.
    In fact, many classical authors could teach a lot to the new generations.
    Educating in ethics is one of the most important challenges for our time, in which the search for the common good is often felt as something of secondary importance and to be bent to the logic of interest. The school (like the family) has an essential role in reversing this trend and in bringing the tension towards the great issues of living and coexisting back to the center of children’s education, those that make life fully flourish and build community.
    The school system should promote teacher training and the mandatory introduction of ethical education practices in schools to face a shared growth path on virtues, those dispositions to act that allow us to seek the good together.

  2. Bravo, Aldo – we need to keep encouraging people to refer to the classical tradition in the search for answers to our woes and the global leadership crisis that debases political life as well as the business world and the community at large. Cicero is an education all on his own, and I hope your article inspires readers to seek out his texts on-line and in second-hand bookshops, where a real education can be had for a few dollars.

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