Rules are for the Little People

By | September 3, 2020

[September 3, 2020]  I have no idea how she lasted so long as a senior civilian working for the Department of the Army.  Beatty Jones (not her real name) held a prominent, high-ranking job in a 2-star U.S. Army command headquarters.  But it was her personal philosophy that rules were not for her but only for the little people, meaning those she outranked.1

It is difficult to deconstruct and explain how a person could develop to this point.  Her position was not what we call “high visibility,” yet she was the third highest-paid employee at the headquarters.  What she said and did in meetings indeed drew attention to her ideas that rules and various formalized procedures and systems did not apply to her.

Senior Army officers at that headquarters knew that this civilian was a “problem” but would not act to take corrective action.  There are at least three reasons for their failure.  I will add, as a side note, that three of the General officers eventually had their careers ended in this leadership debacle.  The civilian was fired.

There is little tolerance for anyone, especially for senior military and civilian leaders, to create, perpetuate, or allow a climate that puts a few above others.  Here are the reasons under which such this situation occurred here:

  1. Cowardice: The troubled civilian was a black female. All other senior leaders were white males. She had already filed a formal complaint against one General officer for racism and harassment (later fully exonerated). In our current PC Climate, it was simply easier for military officers to ignore her and not subject themselves to endless investigations.  This failure to act correctly was nothing but classical moral cowardice.
    2.  Culture of no accountability for Senior Leaders.  It is hard to imagine that leaders anywhere are not held to high standards of behavior, but that was a long-held practice at this headquarters.  Everyone knew the score and just had to live with it, or they were ostracized or professionally punished.  No leader was willing to buck the system.
    3.   Lack of Respect.  When leaders don’t respect subordinates – or their peers for whatever reason – then what follows will always be bad.  Those who disrespect others are also more likely to a) avoid people, b) be undisciplined, c) be bitter at work, d) haven’t thought through tomorrow, e) don’t regulate their own life, etc.  The lack of respect acts like cancer by spreading throughout the organization, destroying lives along the way.2

Too many leaders believe that rules are for the little people.  Call it narcissism or stupidity; the fact is that such behavior exists and there has been nothing the U.S. military has been able to do that was effective against it.


  2. From the works of Dr. Jordan Peterson:
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.

18 thoughts on “Rules are for the Little People

  1. Max Foster

    Don’t we see the hypocrisy in our “political elites” when they make the rules, but at the same time, exempt themselves from the same rules they just made. Nancy Pelosi, Democrat, is just a symbol for the hypocrisy. Until we, the people, stand up to it, nothing will change.

    1. Forrest Gump

      Right, Max. Embarrassing her in public does NOT WORK. She blamed the hair dresser for reporting her violation of San Fran city rules. Let’s not dwell on it but I have to admit it was fun watching her squirm. Stupid is as stupid does … defines Nancy to a tee.

  2. Tracey Brockman

    Nancy Pelosi was mentioned earlier so I won’t dwell upon the point (beating on a dead horse is not a good argument, I know). But putting yourself out there for others to see your hypocrisy is a bit of craziness, especially as elections are coming up this November. All, get out and vote against stupid politicians like Nancy Pelosi.

    1. Randy Goodman

      Vote this coming Nov 3rd. That way your voice can be heard that we don’t accept rules only for the little guy.

  3. Wendy Holmes

    I can say for sure that I would not wanted to one of those Generals but if I had been, I would have stepped up and said, stop the nonsense. Looks like none of them did, except maybe that one that was “investigated.” How terrible the US army allows those who are being corrected to turn the tables by allowing baseless investigations. I thought the commander was supposed to put a stop to that kind of thing.

    1. Willie Shrumburger

      Yes, you are right Wendy. That’s why they have commanders. Looks like a simple decision to squash an investigation that was unwarranted. All the commander had to do was 1) notify his higher commander what was going on and 2) document in detail his reasoning for rejecting it. But he was a plain and simple coward of the worse kind because he was responsible for breaking the bond of trust among military officers. He (I assume it was a he) allowed a poorly performing employee to disrupt his unit for many months. These investigations can take more than a year. How stupid must have been the 2-star commander; nuts and a fag in my book.

    2. Jerome Smith

      Okay, let’s not insult the Maj General (that’s what a 2 star is). He probably had a lot on his mind. Wrong, that doesn’t matter. The MG should have done something right and ethical instead of burying his head in the sand.

  4. Yusaf from Texas

    Great article, thanks Gen Satterfield for your comments today. I enjoyed it and, yes, sometimes I feel like I work in an organization where leaders are given a pass but when I get caught violating the rules, they slap my hand really hard.

    1. Tom Bushmaster

      You must work in government. Mostly commercial entities are not ignorant enough to allow that to happen.

    2. The Kid 1945

      Nope, I work in the manufacturing sector, in Detroit Mich. Maybe it’s because I’m an old white guy. Thank you Yusaf.

    3. Xavier Bordon

      Let’s not get carried away here, while I’m not there to check on you but I don’t think it’s the color of your skin but the color of your uniform (worker vs. leader). I’m no Marxist but Marx did have some useful ideas – they were just no good because the rest of the ideology helped justify killing 100+ million people.

      1. Eric Coda

        Good point Xavier but I think Marxism is still the greatest threat to civilization. It might have worked if it had been 200 years ago.

    4. Harry Donner

      Loved it so thank you Gen. Satterfield for another informative blog post. I enjoyed it…. Very useful.

  5. Janna Faulkner

    Gen. Satterfield, you are being too kind. Please call out the politicians whose hypocrisy is outrageous. Nancy Pelosi, Democrat, just a day or so ago went to a closed beauty salon to get her hair done without a mask, breaking at least three Washington DC health rules that she insisted be followed. Crazy Dems on parade once again. If you want to elect Donald Trump, Nancy!, then keep doing what you are doing.

    1. Lynn Pitts

      Yes Janna, how embarrassing for a Congresswoman to get caught, once again, doing stupid. Rules are truly just for the little people. This is not the first time this has happened. Nancy Pelosi is an example of why so many people believe that women should not be in politics. …. and they are right.

    2. Roger Yellowmule

      Thanks, hadn’t heard this before, Janna…. But looks like she’s getting some unwanted press from Foxnews and a couple other channels. Most of the fake newsmedia are not reporting it.


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