CEO Fail: The Attila the Hun CEO

By Peter d'Aprix ( [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Peter d’Aprix ( [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Attila the Hun as CEO is the character often portrayed in movies and the press as the prototypical chief executive. While I won’t argue that this type of CEO doesn’t exist, I will say he is probably less common than the public perception. One reason is that after his behavior becomes known, it becomes hard for him to attract competent employees. 

For Attila nothing is ever good enough. He requires exceptional performance at all times while treating employees like minions. This focus on outcomes without building up any personal relationships convinces employees that he really doesn’t care. They perceive threats at every turn—to their status, certainty, relatedness, and fairness.

Attila never earns the trust required to have real influence in the organization. While he may feel that he’s driving the ship, he is not building employee buy in and is often getting far less than their best effort. The top performers will often flee, knowing they will be treated better in another environment. 

Are you an Attila the Hun CEO?

  1. How do you let your employees know that you care about their success as much as your own?
  2. Do employees discuss personal problems with you?
  3. How many employees would follow you if you were to leave to become CEO of a different company? 



  1. Are you better at relating to employees or setting performance targets? | The American CEO - […] performance requirements but doesn’t show any interest in employees. As I described in “CEO Fail: The Attila the Hun CEO,”…

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