Principles of Military Leadership  (Part 1)

By | December 21, 2021

[December 21, 2021]  Search the Internet or read just about any book on military leadership, and you will find a wide range of “principles” of military leadership.  Of course, that a good because most of what is written stays within the classic lines of leadership.  For example, good communications and knowing your weaknesses will top most lists.

Today, I’m listing some of the more common military leadership principles.  These principles you can find easily but for the sake of brevity, I’ve summarize them here.  Tomorrow, I’ll list what I think are essential leadership principles.  Will they be different?  Is there some “secret” I’m holding back?  Perhaps.

I’ll begin by noting that I have a few favorite articles that will surely be of interest.  One article by U.S. Army Captain Ron Roberts is excellent.  I recommend a close read.  Called “Twelve Principles of Modern Military Leadership,”1 it applies not just to the military but to anyone willing to learn and improve upon themselves.

Here is a list of 12 military leadership principles that I found to be right on target.  I agree with them all, and I like the list a great deal.  I’ll try to improve upon them in tomorrow’s article.

  1. Develop your team (coaching and mentoring).
  2. Have courage (moral and physical)
  3. Insist on teamwork
  4. Take care of your troops
  5. Be technically and tactically proficient
  6. Set the example
  7. Know yourself and seek self-improvement
  8. Be motivated, always
  9. Learn how to make sound judgments
  10. Have good manners
  11. Show loyalty
  12. Integrity

At the end of the day, this is just a simple list.  It’s the ability to put this into actual behavior that matters most.  Anyone can make a list.  Now is the time to make these real.

Tomorrow, in Part 2, I’ll give my thoughts on the core principles of leadership.




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

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

28 thoughts on “Principles of Military Leadership  (Part 1)

  1. Army Captain

    Just a comment for all those who read this blog to not forget and buy a copy of the new book by Gen. Satterfield. Let’s support a military veteran who does his best to help others. Get out and buy it now. You can give it as a gift to young people. Makes for a great gift for any special occasion.

    1. Guns are Us

      I assume these ‘principles of leadership’ are included in his book.

  2. José Luis Rodriguez

    Have courage (moral and physical) … exactly what our senior military and politicians don’t have!

  3. Wendy Holmes

    This two-part mini-series is an example of what we should all do to gain more info on leadership. Merry Christmas to everyone here. Be with your family, if you can. For those who are our first responders on the line and who cannot spend time with their families, thank you from the deepest part of my heart.

  4. Mr. T.J. Asper

    I could pick any of these 12 as my favorite and I do like them all. If you talk fundamentals the list could be narrowed down a bit. Tell the Truth, that is what the message of Gen. Satterfield has been for a long time. Not easy to do. We all exaggerate or selectively edit what we say. Is that the ‘right’ thing to do? Is it worthwhile? Can we get along with others enough to lead? These are the important questions that must be asked and the answers are less important than how we get to those answers.

    1. Fred Weber

      Great questions, Mr. TJ, and the answers are those that are asked since the beginning of humankind.

  5. Wilson Cox

    I look forward to tomorrow’s installment of another list of principles of military leadership that Gen. Satterfield considers most important. We all recognize these could go on for pages and pages but fundamentals need to be narrowed down to a small list. What are they?

  6. Lady Hawk

    Is Gen. Satterfield becoming Miss Manners? All, remember her? She was dispensing advice to us all. And, how to eat without making a nuisance of yourself. Gen. Satterfield has a point here by putting “manners” on his list, at #10. Go to Miss Manners website here: and you will find by reading closely what Gen. Satterfield is really about by putting it on his list. By having good manners we are showing the world that we can follow the rules and that we are a stable, caring, understanding person. Eat like a slob and people will not think you are adequate for leadership.

    1. Autistic Techie

      Great comment Lady Hawk. Why have manners at all? That is the question and you did a good job of answering the question. Now, if only we had good manners.

      1. New Girl #1

        Good question. I always liked Miss Manners, kinda like Dear Abby. Who is the real MIss Manners and why has Gen. Satterfield included having good manners on his list of leadership fundamentals?

  7. Dead Pool Guy

    Plato, right! I was thinking exactly the same thing. I will add “lead by example.” Now, the question is, Will Gen. Satterfield use either of these two? Let’s see.

  8. Plato

    For tomorrow’s list, I’ll add one, “Always tell the truth.” At least don’t lie. That is one that Gen. Satterfield has repeated often and is at the core of his beliefs.

    1. Karl J.

      That is why men (and women) will follow men like him. He has integrity. How better to show you care about people who follow you and that your mission can be accomplished.

  9. Boy Sue

    Go anywhere on the Internet and at your fingertips are many articles and lists of books that address this issue. Why? Simple answer, because it is important. That is why we here at are quick to point out failures of well known leaders. They help us learn by their failures. Good for us and ultimately good for our society.

  10. H. M. Longstreet

    Excellent blog post, love the list you provide Gen. Satterfield.

  11. Max Foster

    Thanks to Gen. S. we have several foundations for great leadership. He doesn’t write it, but we all know that these principle apply not just to military leadership but to all leadership, regardless of the situation. Let’s all not forget that leadership principles do not change. There may be some sort of change in technique or style but never in the principles. Some will argue that we, as leaders, put emphasis on one or another principle more favorably at one time or another, but they are still there.

    1. Oakie from OK

      Well said, Max. Style is something that Gen. Doug Satterfield has not written on very much. From that I take it that he is more interested in the fundamentals.

  12. Roger Yellowmule

    I look forward to the next dozen or so of military principles as you see it, Gen. Satterfield. Will you build upon this 12 or create another set? Can’t wait. Thanks.

    1. Big Al

      You’re right in asking that question Roger and I too look forward to how Gen. Satterfield is going to deal with this. I can’t see how he can improve much on this list and now let’s admit that there can only be so many “principles.” Oh, Merry Christmas to all !!!!!!!

      1. Edward G.

        Looking forward to tomorrow’s edition. Let’s also not forget that this entire website by Gen. Satterfield is a sort of philosophy of life (not just leadership). Leadership, as a topic, is boring. So, by taking on so many ideas and telling stories, Gen. Satterfield makes this one of the best places to go for a tidbit of greatness each day.

      1. Janna Faulkner

        Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:”
        King James Version (KJV)

        1. Desert Cactus

          The Bible, which is listed on this website’s must read list, is full of human experiences and advice. If you want to know more about people, read the Bible. But you must also understand what is written. That will help you immensely in life.


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