The Masonic Fraternity with all its various organizations bestows a lot of titles. Most, who receive these titles, along with the fancy headgear, jewels, medals, and other emblems of rank that come with them, carry their titles with pride and have distinguished themselves as effective leaders.
Unfortunately, there are a few men who receive titles and believe that the title is all they need to be a leader. They don’t realize that the title is only the first step in becoming an effective leader.
Peter Drucker said, “Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility.”
Dr. John Maxwell says that the true measure of leadership is influence. The greater the positive influence a person has in an organization, the higher the level of his leadership and the more effective he is as a leader. To further define the levels of influence Dr. Maxwell devised the 5 Levels of Leadership. The first level which is called the Position Level. This is where everyone begins their leadership journey.
You are elected or appointed to a position in the lodge and receive a title. This title comes with certain rights and responsibilities and people follow you at this level because they have to. They are following you because your title signifies that you are in charge.
But this title doesn’t mean that you automatically have all the knowledge and skills to make you an effective leader. This title means initially that someone has recognized that you have leadership potential. So, receiving your title says to the rest of the lodge brothers “hey watch this guy, I think he may become a great leader.”
It is possible to become a great leader and never have a title. But the fact that you have one gives you a head start and some time for you to develop your leadership skills so you can grow into that great leader Masonry needs.
You shouldn’t view your title as permitting you to control others, that they are there to help you, or they should do what you say or else. This attitude will cause people not to want to be around you. You will be perceived as arrogant and people will give only the minimum effort and will not follow you very long.
You need to realize that people, not your title, is your most valuable asset.
Max DePree, retired CEO & Chairman of the Herman Miller Company, in his book “Leadership is an Art,” said this, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.”
That is what you should do as a Level one or positional leader is to define reality by taking stock of yourself to understand your leadership strengths and weaknesses.
Why is knowing your strengths and weaknesses important? In his book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,” Dr. Maxwell starts with The Law of the Lid.” In this law, he explains that everyone has a “lid” on their leadership and that lid is determined by your leadership abilities.
So, you may want to be the best Master ever, lead your lodge to become the best and have other officers that are the best, but you will not be able to accomplish these things if you do not work to raise your leadership lid.
Your lodge’s success will not rise above your level of effectiveness as a leader. You will not attract other officers who have greater abilities than you. So it is extremely important that as a new positional leader you spend some time honestly determining what you are good at and what you are not.
To help you assess your “leadership reality,” we’re going to suggest you have a serious talk with yourself and answer some questions in two key areas; Leadership Attitude, and Leadership Qualities. Let’s start with your attitude.
Attitude: – Your attitude about your title and your leadership will determine if people will follow you. Ask yourself these questions:
- Why do I want to be a leader? – What do I expect to accomplish? Am I doing it for the title and the recognition that comes with it, or do I believe I have abilities that will help improve my lodge? Write down five reasons you want to be a leader.
- Do I possess the desire to learn more about leadership and become a better leader? – Have I recognized that the title that was given to me doesn’t make me instantly smart? Am I willing to devise a plan that will help make me a better leader? Find five resources about leadership such as books, websites, DVDs, audio CDs, that you can use to begin to study leadership. Set aside a time each day, pick a spot where you won’t be distracted or disturbed and begin a routine of leadership study.
- Am I willing to be mentored? – Even the most successful leaders have mentors. Think of 5 Masonic leaders whom you admire, talk with them and ask one or even two to be your mentor.
Qualities – There are many qualities a leader should possess. Here are seven that are extremely important. Do you possess these qualities? Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 just how well you display these characteristics as a leader.
- Character – your character determines who you are, how you act and a solid character builds trust with your followers. We are Masons, so as leaders our actions should reflect our Masonic values. Are all your actions as a leader consistent with our values?
- Self Discipline – You need to ask, “Am I first willing to lead myself by building a plan of leadership self-improvement and follow it.” Leaders are continual learners. If you do not have a plan for improvement as a leader, you probably will stay as a Level one leader.
- Commitment – People do not follow uncommitted leaders. Are you committed to carrying out the responsibilities that come with your title? If you are not, you probably won’t improve as a leader. Take a hard look at your responsibilities and ask yourself “Am I willing to make some sacrifices to carry out my responsibilities?”
- Servanthood – Leaders should first be servants. Do you love to serve others or do you expect to be served? Positional leaders think everyone is to serve them. Rate yourself by asking, “Am I willing to help my lodge and others succeed and not ask for or receive any credit?”
- Relationships – One of the most important tasks of a leader is to build positive relationships with his team members and followers. Relationships build trust and will increase your influence as a leader. You must love people to be a leader. Ask yourself, “Do I love people and am I building positive relationships?”
- Communication – Effective leaders are effective communicators. Assess your abilities of writing, speaking, and most importantly listening. Your ability to effectively communicate will help in building relationships with your officers and the members of the lodge. Rate your communication skills.
- Vision – The ability to cast and communicate a positive outlook for the future of your lodge will help create momentum and establish that you understand that a leader is more than a title. John Maxwell says, “A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” Ask yourself “Have I a vision for myself and my lodge and am I willing to pursue it with passion.” Give yourself a rating.
After you have answered the questions about your attitude and rated yourself on the qualities you possess, you will have a beginning point from which you can start to build your leadership abilities and continue to grow as a leader.
Remember these important points:
- Your title alone will not make you an effective leader. You will need much more than that.
- You need to assess your current leadership attitude and abilities. What is your leadership “reality?”
- The first person to lead is you. You need a plan to improve on your strengths and find others to support you in areas you are weak.
- Focusing on People and not Position will ultimately bring you success as a leader.
Making yourself known as a Masonic Leader goes well beyond your title and the awards on your chest.
Have a Great Masonic Day!
A Masonic Leadership Instructor’s Rant – What I have learned in 12 years of Masonic Leadership Development
I have spent a considerable amount of time, money and effort over the last 12 years to provide education and direction to leaders of the Masonic Fraternity. There is not a day goes by that I don’t think about some topic about effective leadership and wonder how it might help Masonic leaders.
I have written hundreds of articles, designed and delivered workshops, recorded teaching videos and presented various topics at lodges, shrine temples, and other places that wanted a message about leadership. I say this not to brag, but hopefully, to give you some sense of my credibility from all my experiences and preface what I’m about to say.
So here are some observations from my experiences I believe to be some truths about leadership development for the Masonic Fraternity.
- Everyone wants better leaders but are afraid to do the hard things to get them. What are the hard things you ask?
- Defining the desirable leadership qualities and capabilities they seek and then make them a prerequisite to be elected or appointed an officer.
- After defining what type of leader is wanted, provide training for those who desire to be leaders and make the training mandatory before serving as an officer.
- Spend more time on those who want to improve themselves and their leadership abilities and not on those who are unwilling to learn or believe they already possess the knowledge to lead and are unwilling to learn more.
- Some type of leadership training should be provided for everyone at every level. A true leader recognizes he can never stop learning.
- Everyone wants a quick fix and thinks having people attend a seminar or workshop will fix it.
- Leadership education is a process, not an event. You can’t create effective leaders in several hours or even at a one-day event.
- If you do hold a workshop, it must be structured in such a way that its intent is to change leadership behavior and participants are presented a method they can use to do that. Also, they must understand that the success of the organization is depended on this change, and the behaviors presented are expected if they are to assume an officer position.
- Leadership education should be an integrated system. For example, a grand lodge leadership education program should be the same everywhere in the state.
- There always should be a method for follow-up and accountability.
- A moving officer line doesn’t work if there is no systematic training regimen required.
- Not everyone has the skills to be an effective leader and/or officer.
- Those willing to serve, who could be effective with the right training, aren’t trained. And those willing to serve, who have no potential to be effective leaders, are accepted because no one else wants the job.
- Changing leaders every year has created a mindset of “one-year planning.” The “my year” attitude continues and does nothing to raise the level of continuing effective leadership.
- The “my year” syndrome also prevents us from taking the long view and creating a plan, with a well thought out agreed-upon vision. Without this, each successive leader then has his own personal view of what should be done and why.
- If we find leaders that can lead effectively, they should be allowed to continue to lead. So, if you have a master, grand master or head of any other Masonic body who wants to continue to serve and knows what they’re doing, let’s not stop them.
- Positive change is desired but attempted in the wrong way- it’s haphazard, by command, without a vision or goals, uncommunicated and year-to-year.
- There are too many opinions on what should be done and change efforts are begun without meaningful collaboration.
- We should begin by agreeing on what it is we are trying to accomplish, why are we doing it, who are we trying to benefit and what the fraternity will look like when we get there.
- We then should stop doing things that will not lead us to where we want to be.
- We should develop a model of an effective leadership organization, implement it and be prepared to let leaders who can’t meet our requirements fail.
- We should put all our efforts in to developing leaders who have the desire and abilities to lead.
- We should start acting like what we are: a learning organization, one that values education, one that rewards those who seek to know more about themselves and share knowledge with others.
So there you have it. Some thoughts on my experiences and what I believe needs to happen to change the fraternity’s level of leadership. I know I might anger some, shock some and receive comments like “that can’t be done,” “you’re nuts,” but those who understand effective leadership and learning organizations will get it.
Where do we start? A few lodges, grand lodges, and other Masonic related organizations have. They began a dialogue with their members, they agreed upon what was important to them and why it was. They defined what they were trying to accomplish, what type of men and leaders do they need to accomplish this purpose and answered how they will train these men to lead. Then they acted, failed, learned, reflected, adjusted and acted again. We all should do the same.
Maybe it’s time for one courageous officer, a true leader, to say to his lodge, grand lodge, shrine, Scottish or York rite body, “this coming year we will not do a thing until we agree on who we are, what we do and for whom, and how we will perpetuate our organization to accomplish our vision to improve ourselves, our lives, our communities and Freemasonry.”
I, for one, would help a leader like this. Would you? Let me know your thoughts.
Have a Great Masonic Day!
In preparation for a MM degree I was rehearsing my small part which, in the lecture, explains the steps on the Master’s carpet. I began to think about the line that explains in our youth we should “…occupy our minds in the attainment of useful knowledge.” The explanation then continues to direct us to use this knowledge when reaching manhood in practicing the tenets of Masonry, so that in age, “…we may enjoy the happy reflection consequent on a well-spent life…”
On the surface, this divides our work as Masons into three distinct parts, and one could say, “OK, I learn as an Entered Apprentice, then use what I learned as a Fellowcraft and then when I’m a Master Mason I can sit back and enjoy myself.” This naïve reasoning ignores the concept Freemasony is a learning system of morality and behavior that contemplates a Mason must be a continual student.
So, if we are to be in a constant state of knowledge acquisition, then it should follow that our mindset should always be one of an Entered Apprentice – a learner.
There is a term in Zen Buddhism which means “beginner’s mind“. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.
The Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki, says the following about the beginner’s mind:
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
As a Masonic leader, if you assume an attitude of a beginner and believe something can be learned from everyone you encounter, you begin to experience the power of other positive leadership qualities.
You will find yourself:
- Practicing Humility – My title means nothing and my Brothers are my equals
- Listening – I must listen to understand. If I am listening, I am learning
- Building Relationships – As I listen I begin to know more about my Brothers and how I can help them become better men
- Being a Servant – Your focus changes from looking inward to looking outward
- Remaining Teachable – You will look for ways to gather more and more knowledge
As an Entered Apprentice we were all placed in a particular location in the lodge room to begin our Masonic life. We must daily continue to build from there.
What will you learn today?
Have a Great Masonic Day!
This Thursday, October 19th, is World Values Day. What is it?
“World Values Day is an opportunity for us to think about our most deeply held values and to act on them. This year we are paying special attention to the values of groups and organisations, and how by truly putting those values into action we can help to change the world.”
Find out more on their website: www.worldvaluesday.com
As a member of the Masonic Fraternity, each of us should think about and practice our values daily so that we become models for our families, our communities, and the world.
Here is a special opportunity to showcase the values the Fraternity teaches and declare them to the world.
I challenge each Mason to be a part of this worldwide effort.
Here is how to do it:
- Choose a value that’s most important for you, the one that motivates you through life, guides you through big issues and difficult choices, describes who you really are. See the Values Guide for Individuals for top tips on how to do this.
- Act on the value: Values are powerful when acted on! Do something NOW that brings your value passionately to life – something challenging, creative, fun. Decide that acting on your values is now part of your life. Do your bit to change the world. Use the Values Guide for ideas to get you started.
- Share what you’ve done across the world with #worldvaluesday or send it to us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or by email. Take a selfie holding the template you can download below, showing what you value. Send a photo or a video clip, write a haiku, record a song – whatever works best for you.
- Pass it on: Nominate at least one other person – family, friend or colleague – to do the same! Challenge them to choose their own important value, act on it, share it, and then pass the challenge on again to their friends. Let’s change the world together!
Let’s show the everyone that Freemasonry is an organization that teaches and practices values that can truly change the world.
Here is a special template with a Masonic logo. Complete it, take a selfie and post the picture to the Masons Lead Better Facebook page, your page, your Lodge’s page and any other social media site.
Have a Great Masonic Day!
Today is what astronomers consider the grandest of cosmic spectacles – a solar eclipse. Adding to the excitement is this will be the first total eclipse to travel coast to coast in the US in 99 years.
We all have been cautioned to be very careful as we view the eclipse. Without the proper glasses with protective lenses, we will permanently damage our eyes.
Freemasons, only a daily basis, need to be aware of an eclipse that occurs that is just as dangerous – allowing the complexities of life to cast a shadow that obscures the light emanating from Masonry. This shadow comes in many forms.
The shadows may come as something as simple as a minor irritation caused by an unkind word or a discourteous act. Shadows may appear as we cut corners or perform our usual vocation in a manner less than we are capable. It may be a harsh word to a child or an argument with a partner or spouse.
The eclipse may grow to totality and darken the Masonic light because of encounters with bigotry, racism or religious intolerance. The shadow is so dark we could weaken and forget the lesson of the compasses.
What will shield us from permanent damage, just as with the solar eclipse, will be a filter – for Freemasons, a Masonic lens.
The Masonic lens cannot be purchased with money, but only acquired through careful study, intensive thought, and constant application. It will only be effective if it becomes a part of our world view. It will only shield us from the shadows if it is who we are, how we think and how we act. The lens will be applied all the time, not just when safely convenient or when dressed in Masonic regalia.
Ask yourself today – Are you shielded from a Masonic Eclipse?