I Promoted the Most Competent

By | December 17, 2021

[December 17, 2021]  And I still do.  I continue to encourage and promote the most competent people I know.  I “go to bat” for those who show promise, those that have the right attitude, motivation, willingness to work hard, and smarts to get the job done.  I did this as an Officer in the U.S. Army, and I still do it today.

I give them a hand up whenever I get the chance.  If I know about an event, opportunity, network contact, mentor, or anything that might advance their career, I tell them about it, and I help them (whenever I can) over short-term hurdles.  Never did I miss the chance to help.

On the other hand, those that did not show promise had a nasty attitude, failed to show respect to others or me, or were just plain lazy; I consciously kept them in the dark.

I asked myself, “Who deserves better treatment, the hard worker or the lazy slob?”  The answer was easy.  I still do that today.  It was a matter of priority for me.  I had only so much time.  The best Soldiers got my help the most.

I’ve been told what I did was unfair, that somehow I’m discriminating against people.  I was asked to treat everyone equally.  And, the obvious question asked of me was, “Why don’t you treat every person the same?”  Well, I don’t treat everyone the same for many reasons.  But let’s not confuse reality with vague concepts like “equality” or “fairness.”

During my career as an Army officer, I ran across a wide range of people with various skills, knowledge, and drive (motivation).  If they were serious about being a good Soldier and had the motivation and right attitude, regardless of their abilities, I helped them.

That was my definition of being fair.  But I never treated everyone the same.  No one does.  If you think you treat everyone the same, you are lying to yourself and others.  I tell the truth, and sometimes that truth is brutal and prejudiced.

The higher the rank I obtained, the easier it was to help others.  Yet, I gave more opportunities to the best Soldiers.  And I also went out of my way to show everyone the best way to succeed.  If a Soldier showed extra promise by following my advice, I would lend them help.  But the worst thing a Soldier could do would be to expect to get something they had not worked for.

Today, I still go out of my way to assist others, but only those I think deserve it.


Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” at 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.

31 thoughts on “I Promoted the Most Competent

  1. corralesdon

    I’m happy to run across this article. If you are a successful leader, you understand each word and why Gen. Satterfield promoted (in rank and stature) the most competent. Of course, why would it be any other way. We don’t reward failure (well, we shouldn’t reward failure altho our govt does). Let’s hope that people recognize that by promoting the most competent, we are making the world a better place.

  2. Bernie

    I’m new to your website and leader forum. Please accept my thanks for a great website. I look forward to participating in your endeavor to educate and entertain.

  3. Qassim

    Gen. Satterfield, I would have expected nothing less than you promoting and encouraging the best army soldiers. That is how civilization advances. The best folks are encouraged and helped. The slow folks are also helped but our effort are for the best.

  4. Willie Strumburger

    Gen. Satterfield, once again you bring ‘reality’ to the forefront. The snowflakes here reading it will be triggered. But, who cares!!!!

    1. Nick Lighthouse

      Whack! Willie, you sure know how to sum up what I was thinking. Well done. Merry Christmas!

  5. Oakie from OK

    Gen. Satterfield, let’s not look at this as a confession of some kind of ‘sin’ but a stark reality that is the tried and true ways of humans to succeed over the history of humankind.

  6. DocJeff

    “Why don’t you treat every person the same?”
    Answer; because it is impossible. So, by prioritizing based on merit, you can treat those deserving. That is what most of us call “fair.”

    1. Greg Heyman

      Yes, and also for the reason Oakie from OK wrote. This is the only way to ensure success.

    2. Ernest

      Doc, there are many who say this is a glitch in a captialist or democratic system that harms people. I say it provides an incentive to do better. The communist or socialist system demotivates and that is why their cultures captured by it don’t do as well.

      1. Randy Goodman

        Good thinking, Ernest. And welcome to the leadership forum by Gen. Satterfield who provides us with insight and an open board for discussion. 😊

  7. Tom Bushmaster

    Gen. Satterfield tells the truth. Let’s all pay close attention. If you are not getting promoted at work or folks don’t treat you like everyone else who succeeds, then perhaps you can look to yourself for not doing something right.

    1. old warrior

      Yes, that’s shocker. You perhaps need a kick in the butt. More motivation is better.

      1. Anya B.

        You got that right, old warrior. Thanks to Tom for bringing up the most important aspect of being a good person …. telling the truth. But I will add that you must also be the best person to find the truth as well. Don’t be distracted by the tidbits of reality that veer you off the right path.

  8. Army Captain

    I might add that the most competent can mean more than those who are skilled and have the right motivation. In the US military, it can also mean those who have the most courage (physical and moral). Let’s not forget that either.

  9. Plato

    Too many ‘snowflakes’ out there. And, I’m not talking about college kids without a clue. But plenty of white liberals who think they are they best thing for the world. Their mom’s told ‘me so! It must be true. /sarc

    1. Dead Pool Guy

      Yes, let’s be careful in the use of the term. It’s becoming too vague and too inclusive. Just a simple warning. Let’s be specific. There are many who are captivated by everything they see and read. We must be targeted in our views. We can’t see everything, thus we must look for specifics.

  10. Jonnie the Bart

    Wow, a punch in the gut for the snowflakes who assume they will be handed everything they want simply because they are there with their hand stretched out. I never accepted a handout and never will. It destroys your soul and personally, I like being free to win or lose. I play to win (with the rules and ethics in mind). Great article, Gen. Satterfield. Thanks for being truthful with us.

    1. Wild Bill

      Well said, Jonnie. They deserve what they get for helping destroy America and those things that made us the best and freest nation on earth.

        1. Darryl Satterly

          Welcome Edward G, I haven’t seen you in these leadership forums before. I hope your time here is worthwhile. If you have questions, just ask. You’ll find this group knowledgeable and rather tame overall.

  11. Guns are Us

    I would not expect anything else. To give a man a fish, lets him eat for the day. Teach him to fish, lets him eat for a lifetime.

    1. lydia truman

      Reward good behavior and you get more of it. And, common sense says that if you reward bad behavior, you will also get more of it.

      1. Bryan Z. Lee

        Yes, lydia. That is why, many say, we got so many riots in large cities across the US. People like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris ENCOURAGED rioting. It was “justice” they say. How stupid that our “president” and VP encourage violating our laws through murder, destruction of property, theft, and other violent behavior.

    2. Wendy Holmes

      An old but great advice. Don’t ever ignore it to everyone’s peril.

    3. Armywife

      I was a single parent and raised two sons.. I taught them no one owed them anything and that they weren’t victims. They were proactive, worked hard and are now family men with jobs they enjoy.


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