The Basic Elements of Leadership

By | November 19, 2018

[November 19, 2018]  In large commercial companies today there is a question going around that asks, “What are the basics elements of leadership?”  In other words, is there some sort of minimum requirement or core competency for a person to succeed as a leader?

In my opinion, yes, there are some core things leaders must be able to do.  The follow-on question then becomes, “What are they?

Generally, the consensus is that a leader must be able to do two things well.  First, accomplish the missions assigned to them.  Finish them regularly, efficiently, and quickly.  There will be some priority to any mission set and so the most important ones should be achieved without fail and with minimal losses or use of resources.  And, it should go without saying, but I will verbalize it here, these missions must be accomplished within the rule of law, and morally and ethically.

Second, a leader must take care of the people they are sworn to protect.  This means all reasonable efforts should be taken to ensure their safety, well-being, resource allocation, personal and professional development, and education.  Depending upon the requirements of leader authority assigned, there will be some of these more important than others.  This act of care must also be done efficiently, legally, morally, and ethically.

We call this being responsible.  When a leader is able to carry out both their missions and take care of their people, that leader is responsible, respected, and will be viewed as successful.  All other matters are simply style.

This past week, a number of examples where senior leaders failed to accomplish their job presented itself in California where more than 70 people are confirmed dead due to out-of-control fires.  The reason for the fires is mismanagement of forest lands caused by self-imposed environmental restrictions.  Another is the failure of New York City to plow their streets and grinding the city to a standstill with only six inches of snow.

In both these cases, senior political leaders failed to accomplish a high priority mission but simultaneously didn’t take care of their people.  A double failure.  Good leaders don’t do this.  Some are now asking a good question, “Can U.S. leaders handle the basics of governing?1


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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.

23 thoughts on “The Basic Elements of Leadership

    1. Tracey Brockman

      These are exceptional. Thanks for the reminder. It doesn’t matter if you’re military or civilian, it helps.

  1. Albert Ayer

    Hey guys and gals, I’ve been reading and found it also very good. Those who write it are great at giving examples that compliment Gen. Satterfield’s leadership blog.

  2. Forrest Gump

    Another fine article to start my day. My dog at my feet, coffee in hand, and relaxing in my man-chair. Ha Ha Ha.

  3. Jerome Smith

    According to Keith Davis, “Leadership is the ability to persuade others to seek defined objectives enthusiastically. It is the human factor which binds a group together and motivates it towards goals.”
    I like Gen. Satterfield’s definition better.
    🙂 🙂 🙂

  4. Mr. T.J. Asper

    Great leaders:
    1. Get the job done (“get ‘er done).
    2. Take care of people!
    Nuff said.

    1. Wilson Cox

      Easy to say, hard to do. I think that is the crux of the problem and why we see so many who give lectures, write books/articles/blogs on the topic. The good news is that there are plenty of resources where we can develop intellectually. But you have to practice leadership to be any good at it.

  5. Lady Hawk

    Great post today. Thanks for sharing it with us. Well done!

  6. Lynn Pitts

    In looking over what we can find on “what is leadership”, I found this quote worthwhile:
    “Leadership is a process by which an executive can direct, guide and influence the behavior and work of others towards accomplishment of specific goals in a given situation. Leadership is the ability of a manager to induce the subordinates to work with confidence and zeal.”

  7. Max Foster

    Many books have been written and articles published on this very idea. There are those who make a living teaching leadership and most are excellent. But you have broken leadership down into its most fundamental concepts and you are to be commended for it. What I would like to add is that within each of the two you write about, there is a complex web of skills and character that must also be discussed at some point.

    1. Doug Smith

      You are right Max. I would have liked to have read more about each.

    2. Willie Shrumburger

      Max, you always get to the point straight away.

  8. Janna Faulkner

    Like getting back to the basics. This is really what I’m reading into your article. Learning to lead from the ground up and not on some fancy platform of crazy, new-modern ideas. Thanks.

    1. Fred Weber

      Yes, like the article Gen. Satterfield linked to in his “daily favorites.” I recommend the article. The idea is that we should reject those new things that don’t work (created by people with little experience) and go back to those things proven over time that work well.

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