Sunday, March 4, 2012

Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun

I've finished reading Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun.

First of all, this book is only 116 pages. One of the maxims repeated throughout the book is that leadership cannot be learned quickly. It must be experienced, you must fail at it, and it requires hard work. So, I guess it makes sense that the book is so short. The author, and Attila, would rather prospective leaders practice the art than spend too much time in study of it!

In the back of the book there is a section titled "Attilaisms: Selected thoughts on Attila". While this does indicate the author took some liberty in compiling the list, the summary of the sections does parallel the writings of Attila that are in every chapter. I found the number of entries for the different sections interesting, and I think they give us a clue as to where we should spend our time in developing leaders, and developing our own leadership abilities:

  • Leaders and Leadership - 12 entries
  • Character - 11 entries
  • Decision Making - 10 entries 
  • Developing Chieftains - 9 entries
  • Diplomacy and Politics - 9 entries 

There were 24 other sections relating to leadership, and all had far fewer entries and tidbits of direction and advice. The five above are the ones that Attila had the most to say about, and spent the most time on. A clue for us, perhaps.

One of he 24 sections was about success. There was one entry, and here is what it says:
"Success is a function of talent, opportunity and luck. The more talented a Hun, the more likely he is to succeed. The more opportunity a Hun has to succeed, the likelier he is to succeed at something. However, lacking in both talent and opportunity, there will always be Huns who become successful for no other reason than they were lucky enough to have been in the right place at the right time. Which partially explains why life isn't fair. "

The irony I find in all this is that while Attila clearly understood leadership and accomplished great things through his efforts and the efforts of his followers, he failed at one of most important goals of leadership: to ensure the organization survives and thrives after the leader is no longer in power. Attila died quickly and unexpectedly. The nation of Huns, feared everywhere, dissolved and was assimilated into European cultures.

 This is a book well worth of two hours of your time.

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