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LEADERSHIP IN ACTION

Editors: John Mohr and Rich Clampitt

Thoughts to consider from: Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun by Wess Roberts
Although this book was originally published in 1985, the key philosophies of the book are timeless. It probably is hard to imagine that Attila was one of the first great management consultants wonder what his hourly fee was back in the 5th century A.D.! The author defines leadership as 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. This short 100 page paperback provides some very interesting insights. This brief article will focus on four elements of the book. Leadership Qualities The Lust for Leadership Morale and Discipline Attilaisms Leadership Qualities: In order to skillfully lead our nation (Huns), we must have chieftains who possess, among others, the following essential qualities: o o o o o o o o o o o Loyalty disagreement is not necessarily disloyalty. Courage fortitude to carry out assignments; must not balk at the sight of obstacles Desire inherent commitment to influencing people, processes, and outcomes Emotional Stamina ability to recover rapidly from disappointment without losing clear perspective and the emotional strength to persist in the face of difficult circumstances Physical Stamina a healthy body supports a healthy mind! Empathy appreciation for and an understanding of the values of others, a sensitivity for other cultures, beliefs, and traditions Decisiveness vacillation and procrastination confuse and discourage subordinates, peers and superiors and serve the enemy well Anticipation bears a level of risk that is willingly accepted Timing knowing whom you are dealing with, their motives, characters, priorities and ambitions are critical elements when seeking approval of even the simplest recommendation Competitiveness intrinsic desire to win Self-confidence those who portray a lack of self-confidence in their abilities to carry out leadership assignments give signs that they are beyond their capabilities

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Accountability learning to account for personal actions and those of subordinates is fundamental to leadership Responsibility no leader should ever be allowed to serve who will not accept full responsibility for his/her actions Credibility words and actions must be believable to both friend and foe Tenacity the quality of unyielding drive to accomplish assignments; the weak persist only when things go their way Dependability counted upon to carry out responsibilities and roles Stewardship subordinates are not to be abused; they are to guided, developed and rewarded for performance. Leaders are, therefore, caretakers of the interests and well-being of those and the purposes they serve.

The Lust for Leadership o Here is a quote directly from the book: There is little more unsettling to Huns than being under the command of a king or chieftain who shows a lack of commitment in his/her responsibility as a leader. Too often, the leadership of many nations falls to princes who lack the ambition, courage and capabilities to reign as leaders. Such disinterest, cowardice and incompetence is manifested in various actions that discourage and bewilder subordinates, thus strengthening the enemy. Committed leaders, those with a lust for leadership, a willingness to serve, will, however, be distinguishable by their wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, authority and courage. They will have a human quality and a strong commitment to their cause and to that of those that they serve.

Morale and Discipline (Note: Use the word discipline as a synonym for execution) Morale and discipline are central to unity o Discipline = honoring commitments; sticking to processes, execution The conclusive test of the morale of your Huns is the disciplined manner in which they bear the burdens of trial o The most important component of employee morale is tied directly to the work, itself. During the difficult times, the ability to persevere and stick to the plan is crucial. Discipline is not suppression. It is the teaching of correct ways expected of Huns. o Execution enables work and provides the parameters for performance. Without discipline, Huns cannot behave with common action. o Without clear lines of accountability and well understood processes, employees will develop their own!!

Morale is the spirit by which Huns submit their services to the tribe. It is not uncontrolled celebration and romping around the campfire. o Morale is evidenced by the work behaviors demonstrated on the job. Celebrations are a nice reinforcement but not the key driver. Discipline is not always welcomed by Huns. o Execution is not viewed as a sexy thing to do and is sometimes resisted. It is extremely important for leaders to actively demonstrate the linkage to business results and personal satisfaction.

Attilaisms o o o o o o o o o A king with chieftains who always agree with him reaps the counsel of mediocrity A chieftain who asks the wrong questions always hears the wrong answers Great chieftains never take themselves too seriously It is unfortunate when final decisions are made by chieftains headquartered miles away from the front, where they can only guess at conditions and potentialities known only to the captain on the battlefield Wise chieftains never place their Huns in situations where their weaknesses will prevail over their strengths Abdication is not delegation. Abdication is a sign of weakness. Delegation is a sign of strength The experience of Huns must be structured to allow them to broaden and deepen themselves to develop the character they will need when appointed a chieftain Superficial goals lead to superficial results Being a leader of the Huns is often a lonely job

Summary Thought: It seems very odd to base any leadership constructs on such a dubious character as Attila the Hun. He is generally regarded as a barbaric, ugly tyrant known for destroying and pillaging. However, consider the incredible challenge faced by the young Attila as he forged barbaric hordes into a nation of Huns. Few of Attilas subordinate chieftains shared his dream of world conquest and a Hunnish homeland. The focus for using Attila as a leadership metaphor centers around the traits of a determined, tough, rugged and intriguing leader, who dared to accomplish challenging feats against insurmountable odds. Please consider the leadership elements contained in the book as timeless advice that can be applied within the context of our strong Celestica values based structure!