Dignity! It’s What Makes us Better Leaders

By | August 11, 2018

[August 11, 2018]  Dignity is one of those concepts that has been used to mean so many different things that it has nearly lost it effectiveness in transmitting a clear idea about what us humans want most.  Similar to a professional boxer who bobs and weaves, the meaning of ‘dignity’ seems to move around a lot.1

What we cannot deny is that everyone wants dignity … but how does a leader giving it makes us betters?  This question is often not discussed.  People want dignity.  They crave it and look for ways to gain it; even the most ethically depraved.  But what is dignity?

If you Google for the “dignity definition,” you will get over 70 million hits (yep, that’s a 70 followed by six zeros).  The multiple meanings of dignity are useful because they begin to point us towards ideas that really shape what it does mean to most people.

To use a common definition, dignity is the commitment to human value.  The origin of the concept of dignity appears to originate in the 13th Century and expanded in the Enlightenment Era (18th Century) along with inherent, inalienable rights of the person.  One right of a person is to be valued for their own sake and be trusted ethically, morally, legally, and politically.

Dignity, freely given, is leadership in action.  When a leader treats others with respect, they are saying that there is inherent trust and confidence in that person.  All successful groups are built and maintained under this most basic principle.  There is no substitute or work-around to completing a task or mission with any group.

The lesson is simple.  Leaders who treat others with dignity will be far more successful.  And, the only way to achieve great leadership, real leadership in action, is to freely give others the dignity all humans deserve.


  1. http://www.myboxingcoach.com/bob-and-weave-roll-with-em/
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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.

20 thoughts on “Dignity! It’s What Makes us Better Leaders

  1. Carl Wigfall

    Good blog message.
    Unwavering approach to improve diversity. Put dignity first and what follows is true value.

  2. Dennis Mathes

    There is probably no more important topic on how people treat each other. Thanks for another great post.

  3. Lynn Pitts

    Another great article and comments by readers to add to our understanding of the issues that face leaders every single day.

    1. Nick Lighthouse

      Lynn, yes I agree this is a good darn website for those of us who wish to be better leaders but also better people in general. Thanks for your service.

    2. Georgie M.

      Agreed. We are fans of learning how to improve our lives and the lives of those around us. This website and the many other ways of learning are all helpful in our personal journey of leadership.

  4. Wilson Cox

    General Satterfield, another welcome article. In this case you’ve hit upon one of my personal pet peeves. Too many people think that you get more done by yelling and screaming. Not the case, obviously. Thanks again.

  5. Joey Holmes

    I like you helping keep me on this website. Cheers!

    1. Scotty Bush

      Joey, it is good that you continue to read this blog about leadership. We know you are pretty young and most people reading this are older. Keep up your effort. I’m sure you will some day be a great leader too.

  6. Eddie Ray Anderson,

    Leaders just making the world a better place! This is what great leaders do everyday.

  7. Danny Burkholder

    You are so right about this, Gen. Satterfield.

  8. Yusaf from Texas

    Hard-wired in the brain or learned or both, it mattes little except that leaders must know and understand the need we all have for wanting to have dignity. That is why your boss should be a little more careful when he treats you poorly. I’ve been fortunate that those around me are good people.

  9. Delf A. "Jelly"

    Too many stories in my life to tell about those who have treated my family and me well while on trips across the United States. I find that the majority of people will treat you with kindness and dignity as long as you don’t do something stupid and insulting. Just the way people are wired in the brain, I guess.

  10. Janna Faulkner

    Good article today. One wish I have is that folks treat others with more dignity and respect.

  11. Drew Dill

    You would think that everyone knows this and practices it religiously but that is simply not the case. I have had more bosses that treated all of us employees terribly and the business suffered as we pulled back on what we did. Our work satisfaction was lower, production in the business was lower, and most of us left after less than a year on the job. This is what not giving dignity freely is all about.

  12. Army Captain

    I have found this to be very effective for everyone in the military. It matters not if they are smart or less-smart, or if they are low rank or high rank, or regardless of any other characteristic; treating others with dignity will get the best results.

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