[September 10, 2021] Tomorrow, of course, is the 20th anniversary of the radical Islamic terror attacks on the homeland of the United States. There are many lessons to be learned. From our lack of preparation to how we carried out the war against those who brought terrorism to our shores, there is something to be gained from its telling. There were many significant successes and a few failures. Leadership is one of those areas where we struggle. Today, I’m introducing myself in a preamble to my upcoming book.
A Preamble to Leadership
Often, we hear of heroic deeds by the few who put their lives on the line for all in a display of tremendous physical courage. We need heroes like that, and for reasons of necessity, we do indeed love our heroes. There are also many more stories of ordinary foot soldiers who, along with their platoon, destroys the enemy pillbox through teamwork and feats of daring that no one person could ever do.
I began my time in the U.S. Army as a Private, the lowest rank, and I never forgot what some of America’s best sergeants taught me. I took away something important from that experience, and I will never forget. In the recent past, I would joke to my friends that the best training for an officer was to have been a Private and learn about their lot in life. But it was no joke; it was true.
In my first active duty assignment, early that first morning, our company First Sergeant took us all out for a “police call” to clean up in front of our unit’s orderly room. “Line up here,” he said, and we did as told. “All sergeants take one step to the rear.” This was done, so the cleanup was adequately supervised by our leaders. When I looked to my right and left, only two of us stood there; me and another Private.
This would be my first lesson in leadership.
I made up my mind right there that I wanted to be a sergeant. But, more importantly, I learned that to do a job right, you had to have the right tools, the right people, and the right leaders at the right time to make it happen. I knew I could help because I understood what needed doing and how to do it. Then, the other Private and I finished the police call on a frosty morning in the backcountry just outside the small West German town of Siegelsbach.
The Army gave me some good training and I advanced. When I was finally promoted to “buck” sergeant, I was happy that my goal in life had been achieved. My time as a Private stayed with me, and I never forgot them because now I could empathize with what they had to put up with from their leaders.
Too many leaders today, especially those in the most senior positions, have forgotten the ordinary foot soldier. They are caught up in the politics of their job, the daily emails, the meetings, the workshops, preparing to speak before the Kiwanis Club, getting that corner office, and going out to lunch with their boss.
I swore that I would never forget and that I would protect that foot soldier. And that is precisely what I did.
Here is a link to Amazon for those who would like to read my story: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09FSQ9BD5/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Doug+Satterfield&qid=1631179849&sr=8-1