Susan Butler is the Associate Director of Science and Engineering for the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Natick, MA

The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) is located at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Massachusetts, under the Army's Research, Development and Engineering Command

She has full responsibility for program execution and systems engineering with direct oversight for 540 personnel and a budget of ~$400 million. Sue has a great passion for leading in a way that inspires teams to be their very best. She has an open, engaging and supportive leadership style in which she encourages contrary views to be expressed so the best decisions can be made. From a young age, she’s had a fascination with watching body language and the nuances of conversation, identifying the various ways a single situation can be viewed by different people. Her keen observation and understanding allows her to notice when team members are not on board with an idea so more discussion can take place for better team alignment and outcomes.

Listen to Susan Butler on Shes Got It Podcast


Sue shared her top 8 leadership tips:

  1. Be patient. Listen and don’t always give your answer. Let your team come to the right conclusions themselves.
  2. Have fun. Positive energy can push through the toughest of times
  3. Pay attention. Don’t get stuck in tunnel vision.
  4. Understand the non-verbal cues of others. This is the best way to build consensus.
  5. Identify the 2nd and 3rd order effects of taking any action. This way, you’re prepared for the consequences and can make other decisions to mitigate any unwanted effects.
  6. Redefine success. We can be successful in many different ways. Our careers aren’t always on an uphill trajectory. There are ups and downs all along the way.
  7. Test your limits. We really have no idea what we can achieve.
  8. Don’t become complacent. Continually broaden and expand what you are doing.

Sue respects the opinions of those who work for her. She expects her team to tell her when she’s wrong. She likes to get the creative juices flowing and allow her teams to do the same. She’ll allow time for lots of creative thinking and then sets a decision date to move forward. She stresses the importance of always taking the time to explain decisions by describing the input that went into the decision and how the decision was made so her teams can understand and buy into decisions.

She wants leaders to know that it’s ok if things aren’t going your way. There are ups and downs and with diligence and perseverance an up cycle will come again. She says, “It’s not the fall that’s important, it the getting up.”

One way she puts things into perspective is to ask herself, “Am I going to be thinking about this 5 years from now?” If not, this is a good indicator that this problem is not important. She says, “You have to interrupt and disrupt your own thinking.”