13 Real Rules for Leaders (Part 1)

By | January 7, 2019

[January 7, 2019]  A few weeks ago I was challenged by a number of my friends to compose a list a set of rules for leaders (my Type A personality smiled upon their request).  And by this they were clear in what they were saying; not suggestions, recommendations, or tips but real rules.

I’ve laid out here a simple list for easy reading.  Over the next few weeks, I will dedicate some of the daily articles to them.  What I would like is for comments about what readers think.  Is the list complete (of course not), is it correct (could be), is it worthy of discussion (yes but only for our education)?

  1. You are responsible for your career, life, and family; so do something about it.
  2. Get your house in order and don’t complain about others.
  3. Be honest, loyal, and transparent; help those who are not.
  4. Listen carefully and be cautious expressing your opinion.
  5. Be precise in your speech.
  6. Beware of unintended consequences.
  7. Make complex ideas accessible to others.
  8. Get to know a Soldier or Marine, Sailor, or Airman.
  9. Be on time.
  10. Be respectful, grateful, and generous.
  11. Never give up.
  12. Put your heart into what you do.
  13. Pursue goals that are meaningful; not what is expedient.

As this list goes to print, a number of those same friends call me to say they have their recommendations for this list.  Hold off on giving me help at this juncture.  I want to pull from my own experiences for the time being; rising or falling according to how I see leadership.  A message now for my friends; thank you, but please be patient.

You are probably asking yourself by now, “If these are the 13 real rules, why is this only Part 1 of a series?”  Part 2 will provide several more; ones that didn’t make the list of 13 and propose an argument why we should even concern ourselves with rules when others don’t bother.

See you tomorrow at Part 2.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

25 thoughts on “13 Real Rules for Leaders (Part 1)

  1. Kenny Foster

    Rules are made to facilitate the smooth working of society.

  2. Bryan Lee

    I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s post with another list. Will these be ‘rules’ as these are. Or, will they be ‘suggestions’?

    1. Drew Dill

      A leader who is new to an organization is often in no position to judge the value of organization rules. If you’re new and you don’t like the rules, then you made a poor judgment to begin with by getting involved. If you don’t know the rules, then it is your responsibility to learn them. If you chose to disobey them and have not considered carefully the risks, then you deserve what you get.

  3. Dennis Mathes

    Here’s my suggested “rule”: Dress like the person you want to be.

  4. Len Jakosky

    I look forward to tomorrow’s list. I hope Gen. Satterfield works with some of our suggestions.

    1. The Kid 1945

      See, Len. I told you he reads what we write. 🙂

  5. Yusaf from Texas

    “Stand up straight.”
    My parents and teachers always told me this. Did it do any good? Well, I think the judge still is out on it but there is evidence from psychologists that there is something in our brains that works better when we stnad up straight and have good posture.

    1. Shawn C. Stolarz

      You are the best, Yusaf. I was going to mention this one too. If you’re a kid raised in the 1960s or 1970s, this is someting you heard all the time. Especially me since I was always slouched over for some reason or another. I was tagged as lazy and stupid as a kid. But when I stood up straight, held myself with good posture and looked people in the eye, I was seen as better. I figured it out soon and started having better posture and performed better in school.

    2. Lynn Pitts

      I laughed when I read your post today, Yusaf. Not because I don’t take it serious but because it reminded me too of my upbringing.

  6. Max Foster

    The question we have before us is not whether the list is worthwhile and thus valuable but whether people will actually follow them. Rules are specific (as they are here) and meant to be followed, else there are consequences that work against us (or punish us). Rules should be clear and most of these are pretty clear to me. I’m on board with Gen. Satterfield when he tells us that these are not “suggestions” or “recommendations” but are to be followed, period. I agree with him and with the others here in the commenct section on additional recommendations.

    1. Janna Faulkner

      Nicely written, Max. I too agree that these ‘rules’ should be followed and I see why. In the near future, I look forward to reading more about them. I’ll be reminding Gen. Satterfield that most of us will want to see articles on them. 🙂

    2. Maureen S. Sullivan

      As usual, good comment. Thank you Max.

    3. Roger Yellowmule

      Super comment about rules. Many young folks today think rules (i.e., laws and regulations) are just “suggestions” and not to be followed. Well, life will deliver them a surprise.

    4. José Luis Rodriguez

      Good comment Max and thoughtful. I too think that rules are there for a good reason and when we mean “recommendation” then we need to say it. When we say “rule” then it’s hard and fast.

  7. Willie Shrumburger

    Thanks General Satterfield for a great list of 13 ‘real’ rules for leaders. By ‘real’ I assume you refer to being a leader in all sense of the word. I would like to make a suggestion for your list tomorrow (and I will be reading it):
    Do not allow yourself to become arrogant or resentful. I’ve found that to be great advice to live by.

  8. Army Captain

    Yes, I like the list and will suggest two others:
    1. Pay attention; stay focused on the important.
    2. Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you need to know.

    1. Albert Ayer

      Good list, Army Captain. I’ll add to your list: 3. Stay out of other people’s business. Let them be private in what they do.

  9. Eva Easterbrook

    Nice list, thoughtful, and useful. Thanks.

Comments are closed.