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Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  1,321 ratings  ·  135 reviews
This is the book you've heard about. The book that leaped to the top ranks of the bestseller lists. The book that's got the business world reading, thinking, and quoting. This is the book that reveals the leadership secrets of Attila the Hun-the man who centuries ago shaped an aimless band of mercenary tribal nomads into the undisputed rulers of the ancient world, and who ...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published February 1st 1990 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 1987)
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Average rating 3.60  · 
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Patrick Neylan
Apr 14, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: business
Let's not forget that, within months of Attila's death, his empire was overthrown by a rebellion of his vassals. If your goal as a leader is to create a structure that is only held together by the immensity of your own ego, then Attila might be a good role model for your business career. You could be the next Robert Maxwell.

This book was briefly in vogue in the 1990s. It was popular because it was different, not because it was done well. The idea of a 20th anniversary reissue is based on the fa
Mar 04, 2010 rated it did not like it
i mean, this little book of truisms was just bad. it was cheesy and not at all what i would consider original, as the author assured it would be in the preface. it was funny, if you don't mind taking in your humor a la Sesame Street. All the, "I, Atilla, the King of the Huns, implore you to" shite was just too much for me. No wonder Ross Perot liked it. If anything, this book proves that most people are destined to be lemmings, buying a book just because Ross Perot did. (like the Coach K book, a ...more
Jay Sellers
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
This was on a list of preferred reading for those entering an MBA program. I think that I might need to find a new list.
Jul 15, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: leadership
Oh geez, the pathetic tactic of borrowing someone else's name and prestige to sell a no-name author's ideas and books. The worst part of this was that his intended audience, Americans, probably don't even know who Attila the Hun was, let alone why anyone should care about his so-called leadership secrets. Know your audience, come on man. This book is full of conjectures and loose assumptions. Should have been called "Leadership Secrets of Wess Roberts". ...more
Awful. Absolutely horrible. I don't care that Ross Perot loved it and gave it to all of his EDS employees. It took all of my power to read twenty pages before I finally gave up. I give up on a book maybe once a decade or so, so this is not something I do frequently.

I recommend reading the Lincoln on Leadership instead.
Monica Copeland
Cheesy but the history info is fun.

Sadly, I can't follow Attila's tips w/kids cuz his strategy for inefficient members is to cut them out of the group. So, I guess my students won't be my horde of Huns.
Dec 09, 2017 rated it liked it
The rating is mostly for nostalgia; this was the only "business book" my dad owned. The attila gimmick seems just to be a vehicle for the author to express his (authoritarian, hierarchical) values. ...more
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
just read the last twenty or so pages to get the gist of the book. Attila has nothing to do with it.
Cody Sexton
Aug 06, 2014 rated it liked it

This is a pretty decent primer on leadership which unfortunately kind of lost me towards the end because a lot of the lessons were a little too self-evident and a little too virtuous. What separates a good leader from a great one is the capacity to not always act "good" or "noble" but what really made it worse was that the author seemed to phone in a lot of the latter lessons, either in a race to meet some publishing deadline or to meet publishing standards for page length I don't know but the l
May 06, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Fast read, but no new info on leadership here.

1) Beyond a list of leadership qualities that you can adapt for any industry and argue they will lead to success, we are given bon mots like "you've got to want to lead" and "pick your enemies wisely".
2) Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Be sure you conduct yourself accordingly, because you are always being watched.
3) Take responsibility, be decisive, delegate, negotiate, be resilient, and reward and recognize great performance. Lear
Aug 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
Attila was tactically smart....strategically a disaster. His campaigns depleted much of the breeding stock of the Hun's horses. For a horse culture this was disastrous. Result, within a generation of his death the Huns had practically disappeared. The author was obviously unaware of this...or like many people in the business community he was more concerned with short term quarterly goals instead of long term success. In short, I wouldn't follow Attila's example if you want to build a long lastin ...more
Natasha Kolb
Apr 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
Too boring to finish
Monika K
May 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Vaguely remembering my history lessons back in high school, I recalled the name of Attila the Hun. In pop culture his name has always been attached to a negative connotation and the references to him have never painted a positive picture of his intentions. This is perhaps what drew me into reading Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun. I have never been a history buff but it is an interesting twist to take someone as ruthless and fiend worthy as the King of the Huns and use him as a model for lea ...more
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
To date, I have read many books on management that include gimmicks in their presentation. The author of this one uses one of the most unusual tactics that is surprisingly effective. Even the person least acquainted with history has most likely heard of Attila the Hun, historically known as “the scourge of God.” To use someone that murdered rivals and ordered the slaughter of all the inhabitants of towns and cities as a role model seems to be odd and inappropriate.
However, as Roberts explains
Jaymes Dunlap
Sep 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: previously-owned
Generally a fair book on Attila the Hun from a historical overview. There were also important principles regarding leadership. Better, I think, for inexperienced leaders.

So why am I rating it only three stars? This is not so much a book analyzing Attila's leadership objectively (although there is that aspect), but rather how Roberts consolidated a bunch of leadership materials and tried to fit them to Attila the Hun. As quoted in his preface:

"But I didn't choose Attila as the metaphoric charac
Emmett Chase
Feb 03, 2018 rated it did not like it
New York Times Bestseller? Endorsed by H. Ross Perot? I recently read "On Becoming a Leader" (just in case I ever need to lead someone somewhere) and it gave me a different perspective for self-reflection, it seemed to focus on ability, competence and ambition. When I found this book I thought it might give some insight to the other side: hitting below the belt, eye-gouging and throwing bricks at things. I was disappointed.

If you really want to a read a book about leadership and this is the only
Nadienne Greysorrow
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cultural
This was a most excellent read, and I couldn't help myself agreeing with several of the main points Attila brings up about leadership (well, not Attila directly, but from someone who studied him, then presented ideas that he believed Attila himself would voice - verified by several others who have studied Attila).

Whilst I maintain no illusions that the man would be considered a "progressive" in today's era, many of his ideas were no doubt revolutionary at the time. And, I think that they are jus
May 16, 2017 added it
Loved this book (who doesn't), organizational behavior is one of my favorite studies. In contrast to books by Machiavelli and Robert Green, that emphasize the darker leadership arts, "Leadership Secrets" draws on strategies that are clear, firm, but fair. Having said that, I am all for collaborative leadership. Collaborative leadership is all about creating synergy and channeling the energy of team members--often driven by ambitions and talents--into a common direction through communication and ...more
Jack Fernandes
This was a short and entertaining book with some important points about excelling in life and business. I liked the summary bullets at the end of each chapter and thought that some of the Hun principles were very thoughtful and important. Overall it’s a short but entertaining read that comes off as a bit campy and repetitive (but don’t all self-help books come off that way?). Read this book as a quick primer in leadership- it will get you started on the right path if you adhere to the general pr ...more
Too Many Toys
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A great book for junior leaders. I enjoyed this book when I read it many years ago. I selected this book as a source for junior leader training and discussion. The mixing of historical fact with fictitious campfire chats that convey leadership lessons as a great vehicle to keep students interested. I conducted several rounds of large group sessions with this book and was always very satisified with how the book captured student interest, sparked discussion and emphasized important leadership les ...more
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018, non-fiction
"Do not waste stamina trying to negotiate with implacable, uncooperative enemies."

"It takes less courage to criticize the decision of others than to stand by your own."

In the chapter "Booty: Rewarding Your Huns", there's the sentence "Controlling the undisciplined desire for booty among our horde is necessary for our civilization to triumph over barbaric customs" which makes immature-me laugh :D
Eric Sexton
Feb 18, 2019 rated it liked it
There's a lot of good advice regarding leadership here but I couldn't get over the fact that the author used a semi-mythical historical figure to project his opinions regarding leadership. Also, I reject the idea that leadership is something that can be read in a book. Either ya got it or ya don't. But there were some nuggets in here I'll keep in my tool box. You can probably read this in about an hour or two at most. ...more
Oct 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book was passed on to me by a friend when he moved house. I can see why he didn't want to keep it. It's a combination of Polonius's "neither a borrower nor be" speech from Hamlet combine with Letters of a Businessman to His Son, with everything recast in a Hunnish light. One despairs at the thought of how many managers were forced to sit through barbarian-themed professional development meeting because of this. ...more
Mary Pat
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well, it's short. I don't think you can get more 80s business advice than this, other than watching the Future Stock episode of Futurama. The book is a mess in terms of organization, and while there is good advice in there, it's the same good advice one gets from centuries of leadership tomes. Also, I don't think the bit about killing opponents works well today. ...more
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
It’s okay. I had to read it for a leadership class at work. It seems like there should be someone better than Attila the Hun. The key points are good. I wasn’t a fan of the author writing as Attila, it didn’t add anything and seemed hokey. Quick and easy read but there’s a lot better leadership books out there.
Sunny Lindsey
Mar 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Not bad, it gets a little repetitive at times. Some good reminders and very quotable. It was a cleaver idea, but make no mistake these are all the ideas and thoughts of the author. I did like the historical background sections, but it is more or less leadership advice from Wes Roberts, with a great title.
Joe Whitehead
Oct 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Atilla leadership secrets

I have read this book several times. And like a rocky and bullwinkle cartoon I clean some important discovery each time I read it. This book is a well written tongue-in-cheek description of Atilla the Huns life. Part History in part fiction this is an exceptional read.
Nov 21, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Written in first person, this just reads oddly. And given that it's the author's impression of the advice he believes Attila would have given, it just feels wrong. It's got a great title, to be sure, but it comes off as fiction and the uninspired leadership advice means Leadership Secrets doesn't quite live up to its potential. ...more
Jan 12, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook-read
Not a book per se, just quotes and lines stitched together which was good for the leaders tool box but the later 1/4 of the book undid everything in the beginning!? It ate itself!?

I enjoyed the history lesson on Attila the Hun but in NO way is this a biography.

Gimmicky, check, but still worth a read, just not at the top of the pile.
Dan Desmarques
Mar 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
My life was going in one direction. Then I read this book and decided to take it in the opposite direction. I never regretted the decision. One of the best books I ever read. It's simple in its structure but deep in its meanings. Attila was a great leader. If he had not been poisoned, he would most likely destroy the whole Roman Empire on his own. ...more
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Wess Roberts is The New York Times bestselling author of Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun, Straight A’s Never Made Anybody Rich, Victory Secrets of Attila the Hun, co-author of Make It So, Protect Your Achilles Heel, It Takes More Than a Carrot and a Stick, The Best Advice Ever for Leaders, and collaborated with Brigadier General John C. “Doc” Bahnsen, Jr. in the penning of American Warrior. H ...more

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