I recently was visiting my parents and while sitting on the patio having my morning coffee, I begin to think about the willow tree that has been standing at the back of their yard for over 50 years. My sister and I were young and we told Dad that we would like to have a weeping willow tree. I can’t remember why we wanted one, but Dad obliged us one day on a car ride through the country by pulling alongside the road and ripping a small branch off a willow tree, taking it home and planting it.
Despite any help from my sister or me, (we didn’t water it, fertilize it, or do anything), the tree began to grow and in time provided the shade, hide and seek cover, climbing limbs and all the other things a kid would want a tree to do. Over the years it has been hit by lightning, severely pruned by multiple wind storms, and eventually started to rot. Dad a number of times thought of having what remained of it removed but after hearing the cost decided the tree wasn’t bothering anyone so he just left it. I’m glad he did because while sipping my coffee it reminded me that Masonry, like our willow tree, has endured a lot over its years of existence but is still standing.
As leaders we can’t treat Masonry like my sister and I did our willow tree and expect it to still be standing 50 years from now. We need to give Masonry the water, the fertilizer and the attention that it deserves. In my opinion that water, fertilizer and attention will come when we concentrate on creating more capable leaders.
Where do we start?
Building better leaders in our Masonic fraternity first must start with a realization that the traditional qualities we look for when appointing someone to a progressive line may not be the most important ones. Dedication to the fraternity and longevity of service may be something to applaud but selecting leaders on these attributes alone sometimes doesn’t yield a person who can lead other people.
Jim Collins in his book “Good to Great” tells of the importance of selecting the right people by saying you must “get the right people on the bus.” In a later addendum to the book discussing the application of Good to Great principles in social sector organizations, he makes the point that because volunteer organizations are lead by volunteers the selection of proper leaders is all the more vital.
So for us to get started in creating better Masonic Leaders here are some beginning steps:
- Realization – Admit to ourselves that we need to create a culture where good leaders are expected and developed.
- Discussion – Discuss the qualities that make good leaders and especially those that match the mission and vision of the Masonic Fraternity.
- Execution – Create a program of leadership education and development for our Lodges, York Rite, Scottish Rite, Shrine, etc. to accomplish the goal of creating leaders.
So why not start today to help water, fertilize and give attention to Masonry. Realize you can be a better leader and begin by leading yourself.