Masonic Leadership, August 2008

Don’s Diary

When a captain is steering the barque of his life over the seas of Masonic passion and is about to hit the rocks, is it loyal for his First Officer to say “Just a moment skipper, do you think you are on the right course?”

In days gone by it would have been a pretty risky business for the First Officer – thrown overboard, keelhauled, walking the plank and all that stuff. Even if he was right to be concerned about the issue, should he have asked the question? Even if he was wrong and asked the question, should he be regarded as another Brutus? These are issues a simple amateur columnist and commentator on life like me wrestle with all the time when trying to report the truth and then get into trouble despite all the best intentions. Some people are very “precious”; others have “glass jaws”.

We are lucky in our Lodge to have a Master who is capable and will give unstintingly of his time to the fraternity. There are many like him in the Craft and of course we know this is the case in Grand Lodge.

They all need helpers. Some will say genuinely that they do not want to be surrounded by “yes men”. This is reassuring but it almost always makes them feel comfortable in the short term. More often than not in a new job you will inherit them but they will also be yesterday’s men with their own agenda. “Yes men” will invariably have a skill and cunning that will enable them to “butter up” a boss, to flatter him and patronize, winning his confidence and influencing his thoughts and he will hardly know it is happening. I would call it “patronage without loyalty” because what will happen is it is not in the best interests of the boss or the organisation - it is self-serving. How does the boss identify these self-servers?

A good start is to identify those close to you with only average or lower capabilities, those who have been advanced quickly: find out what the rank and file thinks of them. Most ordinary people will see through them quickly. Next, individually task them with a personal testing assignment that can be measured requiring the support of subordinates. Most “yes men” will fail those two tests. Get rid of them as soon as possible!

Blind faith is intellectually lazy and not loyalty in its fullest sense: indeed it is the opposite. Think of how often we see it.

Fraternal best wishes to all