Masonic Leadership, October 2007
I got a bit of flack from an active GL officer with my last Don’s Diary. I suppose if you write the sort of stuff that I do it is deserved! He said, “Surely there are no more Grand Lodge officers like that any more?” It made me think, however, that a little more consideration of the matter would not be out of place.
If you have been exposed to many different environments as I have been, you become a keen observer of human nature, some people stand out in a crowd. In the military you heard the complementary term “he wears his rank easily” and “he is both an officer and a gentleman”. You also hear said that “he works the room well”, or “he really seems to listen to what you are saying”. Others will say “he seems to be able to talk to anyone” or “he can mix in any society”. You may hear that “he does not take himself too seriously”. Others will say “I know he is important but he makes you feel comfortable – he really seems just like one of us”. Can these things be always said of our leaders?
My general observation is that the more senior people are in society, the easier they are to get on with. The same may be said of those that have genuinely earned their position irrespective of their station in life. Similarly, the ones that are the hardest to get on with are those that have been “over promoted”, the “nouveau riche” and the ones that are not at ease with their station in life – not sure of the requirements of the position or think that they do not enjoy support from the group for their position. Then we have those with personality flaws such as enjoying always being the centre of attention, or shyness or insecurity.
Senior people should know that unless you are Royalty, and then only on special occasions, they should take the initiative to meet all the people in a room. It is not their role to stand in the centre of the room and expect lesser mortals pay them patronage and homage. If they are talking to somebody they should not be giving you just half their attention whilst looking around the room to identify somebody else more important and interesting that they should be talking to. Notwithstanding these comments, it is up to every guest to contact his host as soon as possible after arrival and see them again as they depart, not overstaying their welcome. This latter requirement also applies to senior people!
For senior people there are a few techniques that may be used. For important gatherings, particularly overseas, a reception line is common at the entrance so all guest are met as they arrive, likewise for the host or his representative to be at the departure door as people leave. Such a practice would not be out of place at senior lodge functions. Very senior people are usually accompanied by an aide or two who ease them away from a group should this be necessary. At a dinner it is not uncommon to see a senior person move from table to table “meet and greet” guests. At junior levels in Freemasonry it is not uncommon to see a thoughtful Worshipful Master take a similar approach.
Such a Worshipful Master will stand near the Appearance Book to meet members and visitors as they arrive. He will linger and talk to others in the changing room. He will move between tables in the South and be near the exit as everyone departs. Ministers of religion have been standing at doors of churches as parishioners depart for generations.
In Freemasonry people do not just need to feel wanted, they want and deserve that natural courtesy which should exist between all mankind, especially between Brethren.
Everybody, including Grand Lodge officers, should remember the saying that “rank is just the guinea stamp”.
Fraternal best wishes to all