This cartoon caught my eye because the Masonic Fraternity with all its various organizations bestows a lot of titles. Most who receive these titles (and fancy headgear, jewels, medals, etc.) , carry them with pride and continue to be the same person they were before receiving their ornately sounding moniker. Unfortunately there are men who receive these titles who believe that the title is all they need to be a leader. So if you think because you are now the “Illustrious Grand Sovereign Master of the Masonic Universe Who Reigns Supreme” and that title has instantly made you the best leader on earth, think again because it just ain’t so.
Hans Finzel, in his book “The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make,” wrote a chapter entitled “Dictatorship in Decision-making” in which he said that “dictator leaders” make a big mistake when they believe their own press reports. He explains that the bigger they think they are, the more they think they know and the more they attempt to control others.
Those who covet their titles believe they were entitled to their position and so in their minds the title announces to everyone that they are in charge and truly a leader. Concepts like servant leadership, team building, empowering, mentoring are farthest from their minds. And woe be it to an officer below them who speaks of collaboration, multi-year planning and organizational goals and forgets to remember the leader’s title.
I believe that a title should remind you of the responsibilities you have assumed. These responsibilities in the Masonic Fraternity are explained to you in the EA degree as “…three great duties;” to your God, your neighbor and yourself. As you take on leadership responsibilities you should be reminded that you are further obligated to act in a manner consistent with the great tenets of the fraternity; Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. You should lead with these guiding principles all the while remembering that it is your job as a Mason to be constantly improving yourself.
In the book “The Fifth Discipline” Peter M. Senge discusses the “art and practice of the learning organization.” He says in the long run the only sustainable competitive advantage your organization has is its ability to learn faster than the competition. He calls personal mastery the “cornerstone of the learning organization “and states that “an organization’s commitment to and capacity for learning can be no greater than that of its members.”
If, as a leader, you concentrate on practicing the Masonic values that define the fraternity and continually strive to improve yourself the title you hold becomes rather insignificant. Instead of being defined by your title, you are defined by your actions. In practicing the tenets and values of the Fraternity, you can lead from anywhere regardless of your title. You, as my friend and brother RWB Tim Strawn likes to say, “have become Masonry.” Once you become Masonry you constantly demonstrate that your leadership motives are clear; that is, everything you do is for the benefit of the organization and your actions are not motivated by your lofty sounding title.
John Maxwell calls leaders who use their title to lead “positional leaders.” He says that leaders at this level only have people following them because they have to, not because they want to. Your title has given you certain rights to lead but only your correct actions will determine whether you continue to have your followers’ permission to lead.
Don’t let the “horns on your hat” make you believe you are a leader. Personal mastery, Masonic values, servant leadership and solid relationships with your followers will make you a leader. Start making yourself a better leader, practice Masonry.