The economic, political, social, and military life of the empire is fully in your hands. A number of tools are available that you can use to steer events within and without your empire, ranging from various diplomatic missions, political and military treaties and alliances, trading partnerships, to technological development.
But your power stands and falls with your people. You might not care for an individual, but you have to care for your nation – an unhappy, angry, or disloyal population can and will let you feel its misery. Your position is not unshakable – beware!