Dimensions of Senior Leadership

[June 2, 2022]  During the last U.S. Presidential election campaign, I compiled a list of leadership qualities that define senior leadership.  I’m opening them up again because it’s time to re-think what I wrote at the time.  I developed these ideas over a long period of my military career.

This “list” can compare and contrast politicians and others.  Any senior leader can be assessed, I believe, accurately vice other leaders.  More useful is to look upon yourself and see if you meet these dimensions of senior leadership.  It matters not if you are new to a formal leadership position or you are a new dad or mom.  Leadership is your responsibility.

Here are the 20 dimensions of senior leadership.

Experienced Judgment Being Present & Visible Clear Vision
Drives a positive culture Accountability Decisiveness
Intellectual competence Inspirational Gets results
Honesty & Integrity Adopts American values Dealing with Unknowns
Humility Mental toughness Has Big Ideas
Zealous Commitment Adaptable Great Communicator
Builds Trust & Confidence Spontaneousness

There is one I left out.  Maybe I could file it under ‘great communicator.’  And that is an effective leader must also be capable of telling stories of great heroes.  Yes, telling stories is an essential skill that leaders must have.  These stories tell the tales of what our ideal personal traits should be and how we appropriately act in particular situations.  We do need that.

We all know when we personally fail on any of these dimensions.  Would it be a fatal flaw?  Perhaps not, except for honesty and integrity.  Fail at that, and no one will take you seriously again.  If we were to review stories from the news media over the past decade, we would conclude that these “old-fashioned” ideas about leadership were outdated.  That conclusion would be false.

As a junior leader, you may want to learn about these dimensions.  Do so quickly.  You might just get picked today to be a senior leader.


Please purchase my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

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

21 thoughts on “Dimensions of Senior Leadership

  1. Chuck USA

    Here is a picture of a failed leader …. Gen. Milley!

    1. Dead Pool Guy

      ✝️ As a practicing Christian, I found this leadership post one of the best. Looking at the church’s leadership I can see where Gen. Satterfield is coming from and I can also see those ministers who have done great things. Those ‘things’ are aligned with what Gen. Satterfield has laid out for us here.

  2. Tomas Clooney

    Great stuff. Hard to argue against this, especially coming from a successful senior military leader.

  3. Winston

    Failure! We all know what it is because we’ve experienced it. That is the beginning of knowing how to properly judge (based on a stable value system). Gen. Satterfield put experienced judgment first. Note that. It was no accident.

  4. Linux Man

    “We all know when we personally fail on any of these dimensions. Would it be a fatal flaw? Perhaps not, except for honesty and integrity. Fail at that, and no one will take you seriously again.” The heart of the matter is here in these sentences. It hurts when we know we are a failure. But do we have the guts to turn ourselves around? That, my friends, is the eternal question.

  5. Mikka Solarno

    Gen. Satterfield, I very much enjoyed this article because I’m trying now to determine how I’m doing on your scale. Pretty tough assignment but I think it will eventually benefit me. I printed out your list and posted it on my refrigerator. Now each morning I wake up and look at the list and will ask myself, “how am I doing?”

  6. Tom Bushmaster

    I don’t see ‘moral courage’ on the list. I’m sure it’s one of the key dimensions.

    1. Yusaf from Texas

      True enough. And I think it is under ‘accountability’ and ‘decisiveness.’ Just my thinking on the topic but I do agree that it needs to be front and center. That is what Gen. Satterfield has repeatedly noted on his leadership blog since the beginning. Great article, otherwise.

  7. Valkerie

    Really enjoyed todays’ article, thank you General Satterfield. Wish I’d had thought of it.

  8. American Girl

    Let’s put any one of the senior most leaders in the world up on this list of senior leader dimensions. We will find most of them lacking in several key factors. Like Joe Biden, ouch, such a pussy.

    1. JT Patterson

      —– and shameless. Pres. Joe Biden is a wimp in every dimension. And everyone knows it.

  9. Eye Cat

    Nice list. Yes, I think the right thing to do is to compare ourselves to ourselves on these 20 senior leader dimensions. Thanks, Gen. Satterfield for a thoughtful article. Made me use my brain ….. perhaps too early in the morning.

    1. Harold M. Smith II

      Right Eye Cat, I’m just now getting my coffee. Yawn. Forcing myself to wake up and think about what is written here.

    2. Army Captain

      When I first read the original article back during the election I thought wow, nice list. Now I convinced it’s a great list. I’m using it on myself, and I can say that it is not easy to develop yourself professional on this scale. And, the post-modern folks say that leaders are just there because of racism. Ha. Try succeeding with this list of leader qualities for just one day.

      1. Rev. Michael Cain

        Army Captain, I’m in agreement with you. Not only is this not easy, it’s damn hard. Yeah, let the snowflakes try to compete in these dimensions. They’ll melt before they have a chance to change underwear.

        1. old warrior

          Very funny Rev. Cain. That should have been my line. Kick ’em in the butt.

        2. Guns are Us

          Ha Ha…. thanks Rev Cain for making my day. 😊😊😊😊


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.