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Attila on Leadership Diseases

Dr. Wess Robert’s best-selling book “Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun” in the 1980s was followed in 1993 with “Victory Secrets of Attila the Hun”. As his protagonist Dr. Roberts chose the brutal barbarian who sacked seemingly impregnable Rome, sending the Roman Empire into a tailspin from which it never recovered. Attila, chronicled by Roman scribes, is believed to have said words to the effect, “every leader must choose the best people, train them well, develop them into competent workers, provide them with direction, challenge them with responsibilities, reward their individual and group contributions, treat them humanely and in this way lead his people to victory”. Winning is not only important, in the national context it is everything, there are no prizes for second place. True for all forms of leadership, Attila’s logic is very much applicable 17 centuries later. All our leaders, civil and military both, need to be given a pep talk on “Leadership diseases and remedies thereof”.

The first thing to guard against is “avarice dysorexia”, a perverted appetite for acquiring illegal wealth. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has dealt with this disease with reasonable success but since accountability has not been applied in a fair and judicious manner to all sections of society (the judiciary and the Armed Forces are exempt) it may lose its credibility. “Physician, heal thyself” must be a prime consideration. One can talk about the obvious in procurement contracts and there is always the institutional corruption in real estate in the military-run Defence Housing entities. The laws of the land must be applicable equally, corruption cannot be condoned because of rank or station in life.