Promises Don’t Count and Talk is Cheap

By | October 26, 2018

[October 26, 2018]  Early last year, I wrote about ‘good’ things we can learn from a dog (see link here).  In the article were listed ten things; one of them was that promises don’t count and talk is cheap.  My intent was to show that there are valuable leadership traits that transcend gender, culture, and perhaps even animal species.

We can take this idea a little further and suggest that some leadership traits are more important than other traits.  This would seem to be an intuitive assertion but one that many academic social scientists abhor because it means some people more valued because of their traits.

Recently, two psychologists studied this very idea; that some are valued more than others.  Their research was published earlier this month (see link here).  What they propose is an explanation of why women are underrepresented in leadership roles.  Stereotypical feminine traits, they concluded, are appreciated as nice “add-ons” for leaders but that stereotypical masculine attributes are more valued as defining qualities in a leadership role.

The concept that ‘promises don’t count and talk is cheap’ is, in fact, a masculine judgment.  What the authors are confirming in this psychological study is that such an argument is biased toward male traits.  Perhaps they are right but I’m merely stating what works.  That may change in the future where feminine traits become the dominant leader role; however, most believe that to be unlikely.

To illustrate, competence and assertiveness (masculine traits) are considered more defining and essential to a leadership role.1  This confirms an action, in contrast to intent, a trait that remains more valued.  That is why we don’t value a leader who “promises” to fix a problem when compared to a leader who “takes action” and fixes a problem.

This is why I’m a little skeptical of those who make the claim that feminine traits, over some unspecified time period, will eventually become as valued as masculine traits.  I could be wrong but for at least the foreseeable future we know that promises don’t count and talk is cheap.  Don’t just believe me, talk to my dog … her name is Bella.

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  1. https://nypost.com/2018/10/18/traditionally-feminine-leadership-traits-seen-as-nice-but-unnecessary/
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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.

20 thoughts on “Promises Don’t Count and Talk is Cheap

  1. Mr. T.J. Asper

    Well written and informative. Thank you Gen. Satterfield for a refreshing break from the craziness that we see everyday in the media.

  2. Kenny Foster

    I recommend that Gen. Satterfield write an article that gives us a list of leader characteristics that are RANKED by importance. Maybe even take a survey of readers. Thoughts?

  3. Albert Ayer

    Gen. Satterfield, please continue to give us articles like this.

  4. Dennis Mathes

    Very informative. Good link to a professional article that helps understand leadership without the political correctness that distorts reality.

  5. Bill Sanders, Jr.

    Another great article, General Satterfield. Thank you for keeping us in touch with reality. Like Maureen has said below, well done!

  6. Maureen S. Sullivan

    This is a very informative article on what is, frankly, a reality in spades. No hiding the fact that the majority of traits found in leadership are more of a masculine type. The reasons are obvious to anyone with a brain bigger than a bird’s. The reason is that it works. You can weasel around rationalizations all you want but reality is there anyway.

  7. Forrest Gump

    Hmmmm, yes, I see what you’re saying here and like the idea that some leader characteristics/traits are more important than others. Also, that it depends upon the circumstances as others have pointed out. Thanks.

  8. Max Foster

    Gen. Satterfield, as you have written in earlier posts, the particular skill or characteristic need by a leader varies according to the situation and circumstances. This may mean that a feminine trait is more valuable, say leading a girl scout troop than a masculine trait to lead, say a combat unit. Overall, however, the masculine traits are more valued. Why? That is for philosophers to discuss and argue about.

    1. Greg Heyman

      People just don’t like reality anymore so thanks Max for giving us a dose of it.

  9. Doug Smith

    Nice article today, Gen. Satterfield … very informative.

  10. Army Captain

    Good article pointing out the research that is going on about leadership traits. The key point, is that not all skills are the same nor are they equally valued.

  11. Georgie M.

    People today believe that everyone is equal in skills and character and thus deserving of an equal share of societal goods and services. That is why the grievance industry of some whacko politicians is so attractive; stupid people are generally selfish. Women, like me, often believe “how” they do things should be just as valued as “how” everyone else does things. That is not the way the world works, ladies.

  12. Janna Faulkner

    Today’s blog post was right on target. Thanks.

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