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Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun

written by Matthew Rensberry, MD MBA on 2015-01-14

I have started a leadership course, for which this (Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun by Wess Roberts) was a mandatory reading book. I found it straightforward, easy to read, and confidence building.

This should be mandatory reading for every leader regardless of level of leadership. There is something to learn by everyone regardless of experience. It should be read and read again, highlighted and underlined. People will want to follow and be lead by leaders who follow these principles.

Mr Roberts describes leadership sucinctly and accurately early in the book

Leadership is the privilege to have the responsibility to direct the actions of others in carrying out the purposes of the organization, at varying levels of authority and with accountability for both successful and failed endeavors. -xvi

and later:

Leadership is a function of three forces: persuasion, manipulation, and coercion. p109

Leadership qualities are broken down to:

These qualities ring true to my experience as a physician leader, military leader, and clinic leader.

Some things which should be obvious to me were revealed such as leaders should want to be in charge:

Above all other traits, one who desires to lead must possess an intrinsic desire to achieve substantial personal recognition and be willing to earn it in all fairness. p27

Other quotes that I enjoyed and want to remember are:

Morale and discipline are central to unity. p35

Be principled, not inflexible. p41

You are your reputation! p46

If it is necessary to appear as ferocious savages in order to proect courage and victorious purpose, then do it well. p51

A chieftain who appears to be noble, will be treated as such...One who appears as a jester of the courts will recieve deference as the same. p52

Do not insult unless you mean it. p57

Leaders must attach value to high standards of performance and have no tolerance for the uncommitted. p61

Success is the result of hard work that overcomes all forms of disappointment and moments of discouragement. p63

...victory comes to one who knows not only what to do but when to do it. p66

Be generous with small tokens of appreciation - they will multiply in returned loyalty and service. p78

Keep negotiations secret! p82

Be bold in facing the inevitable. p83

Be keenly aware of time. p83

It is never wise to gain by battle what may be gained through bloodless negotiations. p83

...worthy causes meet with the most resistance ... your most worthy efforts will be scorned by your peers. p88

Seeking consensus before making a decision does not abdicate authority or absolve responsibility, but it can result in lost opportunity and watered-down courses of action. p104

...engage only in wars [you] can win. p106

...you are not remembered by what you did in the past, but by what most think you did. p111

Focus on opportunities rather than on problems. p111

Success is a function of talent, opportunity and luck. p113

Contrary to popular belief, there are no decisive winners and losers at the end of most battles. Rather, the winner slightly better off, the loser slightly worse off. But the winner is still the winner. p116