Smoothing the Rough Edges

By | October 12, 2023

[October 12, 2023]  As a U.S. Army Private, I witnessed a strange event during one of my unit’s formations that stuck with me.  Our Platoon Leader, a new Second Lieutenant, yelled at our platoon one day.  Our Commander strolled out, put his hand on the LT’s shoulder, and calmly gave him some advice.  I couldn’t hear what was said, but it was clear to me that the Commander was smoothing the rough edges of the Lieutenant.

Leadership comes in many forms.  On a good day, we all worked together with our new, abrasive Lieutenant, who was a happy guy.  We were, too, because we got off early in the day.  On the other hand, we had many bad days when the LT screamed at us, unlike a baby crying when he didn’t get his way.  However, after a few “sessions” with the Company Commander, the LT was much calmer, more focused, and nicer to us low-ranking troopers.

Senior leaders’ traditional duty is to teach, coach, and mentor those in their sphere of responsibility.  Sometimes, this is called smoothing out the rough edges.  All of us are ‘diamonds in the rough’ to some extent.  We have imperfections, personality faults, and quirks that get in the way of getting the job done.  We’re not perfect because we’re human, and we sometimes miss things we should not have, misbehave, overlook a task that should have been accomplished, etc.

For those leaders who are fortunate enough to have someone help them along and smooth out those rough edges, their time as a leader will be more successful.  Perhaps there is someone out there who is intellectually brighter than us, better looking, and more advantaged and thus doesn’t need their edges smoothed.  Assuming this person exists, I’ve never met them.  For the average Joe (or Josephine) doing their best day-to-day, we need that teaching, coaching, and mentoring.

That Second Lieutenant in my company would later become a Major General and commanded the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq.  His performance as an LT was lacking on the day our Company Commander began smoothing out those rough edges.  One day, more than a decade ago, on the open plains of central Iraq, we laughed together as we remembered that day in 1975 when we were all educated on being a good leader.

NOTE: This is an old article of mine that several readers requested that I repost.


Please read my books:

  1. “55 Rules for a Good Life,” on Amazon (link here).
  2. “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on 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.

19 thoughts on “Smoothing the Rough Edges

  1. Eddie Gilliam

    Great repost. Leaders are not born. A good leader must be a good follower to be successful in the development of their leadership skills. I heard term “Fake it til you make it ” those who have this leadership approach are hurting not only themselves but those who they lead. I was blessed to be in the leadership role in the air force for over 20 years. To sharpen my leadership skills each opportunity a leadership class was available I signed up. Which is a point all leaders needed to follow. We are never to grown. Joshua was groomed by Moses. When Moses could not cross over to the promise lands after having the Red Sea depart killing Pharaoh and his army. God told Moses to speak to the rock, however Moses tapped the rock. His disobedience resulted in Moses seeing the promise land but not entering. Joshua leadership was displayed when he led the people in the 7 day march around the wall of Jerchio. On the 7th day with in unity with a load shout the wall came down.

    1. anita

      Hi Eddie, I just love your posts on Gen. Satterfield’s blog. I really appreciate what you have to say. It is noticed that you are a truly good man.

  2. Ronny Fisher

    Get a mentor to help. That works best. Don’t wait for one to come to you, look for them.

    1. Otto Z. Zuckermann

      Right Ronny, we all have edges to smooth out and always will. And, thanks Gen. Satterfield for another informative article.

  3. Mikka Solarno

    Gen. Satterfield, thank you. And thank you also for helping keep us informed on the war with Hamas and the Palestinians. No one is saying the Palestinians are part of this war, but they are. They voted to have Hamas and now they are getting their heavenly reward. Many will shortly see if there are 21 virgins, or Hell waiting for them. I will sadly watch the terrible things that came out of the attack of terrorists against Israel.

  4. Jerome Smith

    Gen. Satterfield, you always impress:
    “Senior leaders’ traditional duty is to teach, coach, and mentor those in their sphere of responsibility. Sometimes, this is called smoothing out the rough edges. All of us are ‘diamonds in the rough’ to some extent. We have imperfections, personality faults, and quirks that get in the way of getting the job done. We’re not perfect because we’re human, and we sometimes miss things we should not have, misbehave, overlook a task that should have been accomplished, etc.”
    — well said.

    1. Veronica Stillman

      Yep, this is why I always read the articles through to the bottom. And, Gen. Satterfield, thanks for standing with Israel in America’s anti-Semitic fashion show (we are all Israelis now).

      1. Sally Anne

        We can all stand for good. Terrorsim and the kind of atrocities that Hamas has perpetrated on innocent children, women, and old people, terrible. They must be treated as animals and put down harshly so others get the message. 🇮🇱

  5. Pumpkin Spice

    Gen. Satterfield is the best. Even his recycled articles are great. Smoothing out the rough edges is just another way of saying that we learn how to conduct ourselves better. Good thing this LT got the message.

  6. Liz at Home

    Gen. Satterfield, well done. Just a short note to say that my neighbor bought a copy of “55 rules for a good life” and is thoroughly enjoying the book. I hope your sales are up because everyone should at least read it. There are so many ways of getting better, that you have enough to be better and have a better life. Thanks for your books. Oh, and I finished your other book too. I look forward to your next book, “Letters to my granddaughter.”

    1. Georgie B.

      Yeah, Liz, same here. I hope his new book comes out soon. That is how I not only learn from can be entertained too.
      😎 You go girl.

  7. Lady Hawk

    Nothing like a traditional article from Gen. Satterfield, even if it is an old one from the past. Great job!

  8. The Toad

    Funny thing happened on the way to the cleaners. Someone actually learned something as a junior leader. Too bad all that has to work to the negative for those who have to suffer the consequences.

    1. Tom Bushmaster

      Better right now than later when their leadership can do more harm. Just look at the crime-ridden family of Joe Biden as the latest clown. He is a disaster. He always thought he was the smartest guy on the block. but in reality he was and is the dumbest. Clearly surpassing Jimmy Carter as the worst president in American history. A frog could have been better.

      1. Janna Faulkner

        A frog could have been better (president). Made me nearly chuck my coffee up thru my nose. Thanks Tom.
        Love your comments. ❤❤❤❤


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