I was thinking one day that during my years of service in Masonic organizations I have observed first hand and also heard about some behavior by leaders that made me think at the time that they had forgotten some things they were taught in the Masonic degrees. I have always believed that an essential part of leadership is a correct attitude and what better attitude to assume as a leader than that of one resulting from practicing the three great tenets of Masonry; Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
This thought took me back to the EA degree and how we can use its teachings about the three great tenets of Masonry in conjunction with Dr. John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership to improve our Masonic leadership behavior.
Let’s first look at Brotherly love. We find in the EA degree that we first are taught as Masons “to regard the whole human species as one family”… we are then taught “to aid, support, and protect each other.” This part of the ritual then goes on to say; “It is on this principle that Freemasonry unites men of every country, sect and opinion, and conciliates true friendship among those who might otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance.”
A Masonic education course I recently found describes Brotherly Love this way:
“It means that we place on another man the highest possible valuation as a friend, a companion, an associate, a neighbor, a fellow. Merely to be with him, merely to spend hours in his company, to have the privilege of working at his side, is all we ask. We do not ask that from our relationship we make money, or further our business interests, or achieve some other form of selfish gain. Freemasonry takes brotherly love for granted, provides opportunities for us to have fellowship, and encourages us to understand and to practice it, and to make it one of the laws of our existence.”
So how does Brotherly Love relate to leadership?
As you read and begin to understand more fully John Maxwell’s approach to leadership, you will find it is built around relationships. He says your best chance for leadership depends upon connecting with those on your team. He tells us we should look for the following five characteristics in our relationships:
Trust – Maxwell says when you respect people and you spend enough time with them to develop shared experiences, you are in a position to develop trust. However, as Masons, we were taught to trust one another without question. As you recall your condition when you first entered a lodge of EAs, you will also remember that you were told that since you were in no condition to foresee or avoid danger that you were in the hands of a true and trusty friend, in whose fidelity you might safely confide. Masonry is trust and trust is Masonry; When you lead with trust, you lead with Masonry.
Respect – you should show it to others even before they have done anything to warrant it simply because they are human beings. Our ritual says it this way: “to regard the whole human species as one family,” So as Masonic leaders leading other Masons, we should lead with respect because following Masonic values, those we lead are the same as we are.
Shared experiences – Maxwell says that you can’t rely on respect alone to develop strong relationships; you must have shared experiences over time. The Masonic education course I talked about said that Brotherly Love allows us to spend time with our fellow Masons, gives us the privilege to work by their side, and grants us opportunities in a position to develop trust.
Reciprocity – team relationships only survive when there is give and take so that everyone benefits as well as gives. As Masons we are taught to “be ready to give as well as receive good consul from a brother.” As a leader we must remember that our positional title does not excuse us from this basic element of Masonry. So when Dr. Maxwell speaks of reciprocity as an element of good relationships, we should already understand this.
Mutual enjoyment- When relationships grow, the people involved begin to enjoy one another’s company. The Masonic concept of Brotherly love contemplates mutual enjoyment. So to lead with Masonic values, we should lead in a way to establish and maintain mutual enjoyment.
So, Leading with Masonic values first starts with refreshing our minds and assuming an attitude of Brotherly Love, one of our basic Masonic tenets. I’m sure after thinking through what I’ve just talked about you can recall some difficult times as a leader that would not have been so difficult and problems much more quickly resolved if everyone had approached it with the attitude of Brotherly Love. I know I can recall some leadership situations that would have been much better had I remembered to lead with Brotherly Love.