“Don’t worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition”
Last night I was at a gathering and sat next to someone who had recently attended the state annual meeting of one of the Masonic related ladies’ organizations. He told me it took; now get ready for this, SIX HOURS for Introductions.
Now I don’t know about you, but even if the room was filled with former US Presidents, foreign dignitaries, and iconic rock stars, sitting on your butt for six hours while they are introduced and allowed to make comments is cruel and unusual punishment.
Real leaders understand that the most important people in the room are those they are attempting to lead. Titles have no importance so taking time to introduce the Past Assistant Chairman Pro-Tem for Making Sure We Have Refreshments At Every Meeting person is just plain wrong.
Leaders understand that their title just gives them some immediate recognition which allows them to begin the process of proving themselves as leaders.
Leaders begin to connect to form positive relationships, they inspire and build teams, they demonstrate their worth by producing action, they identify and mentor other leaders and many leaders do all of this without a title.
Real leaders don’t need to be introduced, they are already known.
As “Hail to the Chief” began to play the doors of the ballroom burst open and in walked President George W. Bush and two Secret Service Agents. I was sitting at the opposite end of room and from where I sat it sure looked like President Bush. He bounded upon the stage, began to speak and it sure sounded like the former president; but it wasn’t.
It was John Morgan a George Bush impersonator. John has mastered Bush’s voice, his mannerisms and with the addition of some of those George Bush butchered words, makes you believe he is the real deal.
So this made me think of some of the leaders I’ve known that are just like John’s portrayal of Bush; they look like a leader, when you first see them they appear to act like a leader, and they talk like a leader. But as time goes by you find that really all there is to their leadership is the talk and they never back it up with real leadership action.
Real leaders have a bias for action. Matter of fact they get restless and bored if things aren’t moving. They also are impatient with people who are indecisive. The sure way to drive a true leader nuts is to say something like; “I’m not sure we should do this, maybe we should study it more.” This is like fingernails on a chalkboard to a real leader because they have already said, “We are here, we want to go there, here are the obstacles and here are solutions to remove the obstacles.” In other words, they have a plan and they are ready for action.
Don’t just look like a leader, act like one.
An article in the paper this morning was about unusual first names. One name discussed that caught my eye was 7. This guy’s parents named him 7 after a man his father had become friends with in the military; his name was 7 or Sevin.
This started me thinking about leaders who do not take the time to develop strong relationships with their team and followers. So I suppose that instead of names these leaders might as well assign everyone a number, you know, for the convenience of the leader. After all, the leader has more important things to take care of rather than people.
John Maxwell defines influence as the true measure of leadership. To have influence as a leader, especially when asking for significant sacrifice and commitment, you must have established a positive meaningful relationship with your team and followers. So if you haven’t they pretty much are just numbers to you.
How does a leader start a relationship with someone? Here are some thoughts.
By investing your time in someone you establish a powerful connection and they understand that they are more than just a number. They are cared for.
So if your team members and followers are just a set of numbers you have some work to do.
A recently released study by three scientists explored the possible outcomes should earth be visited by aliens from somewhere else in the universe. The study listed a number of outcomes from beneficial to harmful. Contact with extraterrestrials might lead to a discussion of math and science or helpful information on solving issues like world hunger or poverty. Or, at the other end of the spectrum; Aliens could intentionally plan to eat or enslave people on earth.
I don’t know about you, but waking up and worrying about being eaten by an alien is not something I do often. What I do worry about is when they land and utter those immortal words “Take me to your leader” and we can’t find one.
So maybe before the aliens show up we need to assess how we select leaders in our volunteer organizations. Do we know what leadership qualities we are looking for? If we do, is there a selection process designed to find potential leaders with these qualities?
Jim Collins wrote about the leadership selection process in volunteer organizations and said that when searching for leaders and there is no compensation at all, that doesn’t excuse you from attempting to find the best possible leader. He says, “it makes selectivity all the more vital.”
With the success of your organization riding on the abilities of those leading, doesn’t make sense to find the best qualified people you can?
Here are some suggestions that can help raise the quality level of your leaders.
The important thing here is to get buy-in and commitment from the organization for this process. It will be much easier to develop it than to actually apply and use it. It you start granting individual exceptions then you have doomed the process to failure.
So when the little green men come and say “Take me to your Leader,” wouldn’t it be great to be able to say, “We are all leaders, how can we help you?”
I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it. George Bernard Shaw
This quote came to mind as I struggled with a situation that has pitted a group of logical thinking leaders on one side of an issue and on the other, a group who has come ill-prepared for the complicated task at hand.
One might think that this is a no-brainer. The guys who have approached the issue with a well thought out plan certainly have an advantage. After all, they have done research, logically thought of the issue from each side’s perspective, and look at each face-to-face encounter with the other group as a dialogue not a debate. The word “dialogue” is a favorite of mine. It basically means that a group is sharing knowledge with each other so that each person in the group ultimately gains greater understanding. Leaders think this way; pigs don’t.
Leadership pigs are basically positional leaders. John Maxwell defines these types of leaders are those you follow because you have to. They have a title that has given them certain rights and those rights have given them authority over you; but only for a short time. Why? Because you usually find that leaders who attempt to lead using their title only have equated authority with superiority. Instead of using the title as a start to building a relationship, they wave it around in an egotistical manner and have convinced themselves that with the title comes infinite wisdom.
So these pigs have wallowed around in this positional, egotistical mud so long that the proper leadership approach to a problem, e.g., proper logical thought, proper planning, intellectual dialogue, just doesn’t appear on their radar screen. They expect you to jump into the mud with them and what that means is they want you at a disadvantage and to believe they have the advantage because of their title.
So what do you do if you find that you have encountered a situation which, if you are not careful, may have you wrestling with pigs or worse yet already in the mud? Here are some suggestions:
Dealing with inadequate leaders can be very frustrating, especially with those who from time to time you are forced to deal with. Be patient. Remember the old saying; “give a man enough rope and he will eventually hang himself.” In any event try to avoid wrestling with pigs.
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.