‘I want it done Yesterday’ … more Bad Advice

By | August 24, 2018

[August 24, 2018]  If you never heard this said by your boss, then you’re new to the workplace.  “I want it done yesterday” is a common dictum designed to both task a specific work effort and give emphasis to its importance.  It’s bad advice anyway and here is why.

When a leader gives a directive, it needs to be clear, concise, logical, and convincing.  Factiousness, sarcasm, joking, subtleties, or in any way could lend itself to the wrong idea is an unforced error on the part of a leader.  Simple leadership advice … don’t resort to methods that are easily distorted or misinterpreted.1

Earlier this month I wrote about a line I’d heard in a movie.2  “Take care of it,” was said by Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) in a classic Vietnam War movie, Apocalypse Now (1970).  He was trying to tell his men to scare off the Viet Cong enemy so they could quickly get back on their original mission.  Things didn’t go well in the movie for Captain Willard and it will not go well for leaders when they give bad advice.

Leaders are often quick to give these directives so it is imperative that if we are on the receiving end, we should ask for additional clarification and specificity.  If we have given this advice in the past, don’t repeat it.

Leader guidance is frequently misinterpreted either inadvertently or sometimes purposefully.  Don’t take the risk by telling anyone you want something done yesterday.


  1. https://www.theleadermaker.com/leaders-miscommunication-leader-lesson/
  2. https://www.theleadermaker.com/take-care-of-it-is-bad-advice/
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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.

22 thoughts on “‘I want it done Yesterday’ … more Bad Advice

  1. Georgie M.

    Ha ha. Nearly fell out of my chair when I read this article. I too have been told to ‘get er done now!’ and the like. Too funny. Thanks.

  2. Bill Sanders, Jr.

    Simple-mindedness is what you are when you say ‘I want it done yesterday.’ So, leaders be a better leader and ensure what you mean is clear. Lecture off!

  3. Dale Paul Fox

    Another great article. Thanks Gen. Satterfield for making it easier to be a leader and to have a “go to place” for discussion of leader topics.

    1. Tracey Brockman

      I agree. I go to this webpage every day and am never disappointed. There is always something that can be learned and also entertained.

  4. Wesley Brown

    Keep up the great work by providing us novice leaders with great advice.

  5. Albert Ayer

    Gen Satterfield has a good habits column that he occasionally posts to. I concur that he should start one with bad habits and also how to eliminate those very worst of the bad habits. Leaders sometimes need help. This would help. The reason is that some leaders, like me, don’t always see what is a bad habit ever. Thanks.

  6. Andrew Dooley

    Another bad habit that leaders pickup along the way.

    1. Lynn Pitts

      … and not just this one. Perhaps Gen. Satterfield will write on the common “bad” habits of leaders. That list would be fun to read and discuss.

  7. Doug Smith

    Ha Ha Ha … I think we’ve all heard this too many times.

  8. Janna Faulkner

    Well written and to the point. Most leaders never even think about it. They just say it. Like good advice, Gen. Satterfield, you made my day with this blog post. Thanks.

  9. Army Captain

    The message all leaders should take from this is that saying such a thing is a big NO-GO. Keep it clear, concise, and don’t cheap out on your vision.

  10. Max Foster

    I have found that leaders under stress commonly say things such as this for many reasons; none which are good. Some lack the maturity and experience to actually give proper advice as noted in Gen. Satterfield’s article today. So, the lesson for leaders is to be aware of this and try not to repeat the mistakes of the many leaders who have gone before you.

    1. Darryl Sitterly

      Thanks Max. Well said. I agree that stress is a common factor but a leader’s character should still shine through.

  11. Kenny Foster

    Wow, I have certainly heard this a million times.

    1. Danny Burkholder

      Good comment again, Max. In the end, however, there is no excuse.

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