Masonic Leadership, December 2016

Don’s Diary (Masonic Leadership)

The qualifications for Mastership are well enunciated in our ritual except I am not confident the there is a strong call, by name, if any, for leadership. Indeed the in the Address to the Brethren anything but leadership is suggested when the Installing Master says “Brethren, such is the nature of our Constitution, that of necessity some must rule and teach, so others of course must learn, submit and obey……..”. Indeed, a Master Elect is required to swear to “…impartially to administer..” his lodge: to me to administer is just one of the functions of management, a little above co-ordination.

A leader must be more than a good manager, however, a strong management capability must be in his tool box. A good leader must be one that steps forward and accepts responsibility and ultimate accountability. He must be able to identify and pursue the real objective. He must have absolute integrity, modest, and be respected by his followers and hopefully, he will also be well liked. He must be technically competent and also have a sound understanding of, and respect for the work of his subordinates. He must be able to bring people along with him. He must have political “nouse” in regard to the way in which the organisation works to avoid self-inflicted difficulties.

He should be able to incorporate and engage every member of the lodge. He must be generous and understanding in his attitude to others and even-handed, promoting what is good rather than looking for the bad and chastising the triers. However, he must deal quickly and decisively with trouble-makers. He must be able to “engage” with others, meeting them “on the level”, making and retaining eye contact and exuding an open and honest demeanor. Being a good listener, never giving the impression that he is impatiently waiting for somebody to finish talking before he says what is on the tip of his tongue.

He must have the courage and be prepared to deal with issues of principle and importance, even to the potential detriment of his own standing. He must be stoic. He must understand the need for, and how to build up “political capital”. This capital is earning a high credit and respect by his subordinates so that if and when a difficult decision has to be made, he will be trusted to make that decision. He must be prepared to say I am sorry and I was wrong. I could go on – leadership is certainly not about heavy-handed authoritarian and top-down management which may be needed in an emergency, an unlikely event in Freemasonry.

In Lodge Devotion, and I am sure in some other Lodges too, technical competency is learned by advancement through the progressive offices, especially giving Wardens their full role. Newer Freemasons are encouraged to emulate the many good examples of leaders that we have among our members. Every opportunity is given for new Freemasons to step up and assume responsibility and learn management in activities such as learning and delivering charges, appointments to committees, activities in the South, organising social functions and so on. They are rewarded for their efforts by recognition, and advancement.

Leadership is an art which is developed more than gained by instruction. Successful candidates must first have the necessary personal attributes. It involves a lot of self-selection by a demonstration that they want to accept responsibility and accountability. It involves an understanding that it is not all about you but about the Lodge and the team effort.

Yours fraternally,