Directing Masons

From Damien of Devotion

How would your governance of your lodge stand up against Don Argus’s 10 characteristics for a good Director ?

Don Argus, AC is a leading light in Australian business.

Mr Argus is the former chairperson of BHP Billiton and has been a Director of other notable Public Companies. Particularly associated with the National Australia Bank (NAB) where he rose through the ranks to become the company's General Manager and later Chief Executive Officer, he is widely credited with leading that company to recovery from a difficult period in the late 1980s. In 2007 he was named one of the most influential figures in Australian business by The Bulletin magazine.

The Australian Financial Review recently published an article titled "Company Directors face shake-up". This article quoted Mr Argus and several other domestic and international sources concerning Company Directors and Corporate Governance and operation.

I am sure we as Freemasons could learn something from this article.

Recommendations included the annual Election of Directors and Chairperson. Something we do at Installation in our Lodges. A UK study also quoted described an "increasing emphasis in the United Kingdom on the importance of engagement by institutional shareholders in the governance of the companies in which they invest." Putting a Masonic spin on this, it could be applied by encouraging our members collectively, on a lodge, and Grand Lodge level, to more closely and critically evaluate performance with the view of improving the engagement and satisfaction of all members and thereby outcomes for Freemasonry. Or is that simply to be left to groups like the Board of General Purposes and Electoral College?

Mr Argus also offered the following list of the "Top 10 characteristics of an exceptional non-executive director". I would say they are immediately applicable to the Craft. When you look at lodges in difficulties, personalities and practises contrary to Mr Argus's list often play a sizeable part in dysfunctional organisations.

I would suggest these characteristics of exceptional non-executive directors are directly transferable to the exceptional leaders and members of lodges;

1. Brings a depth of experience to the board with some knowledge of the industry


2. Is a team player who leaves their ego at the door.

3. Is an industry adviser, able to challenge as well as support.

4. Is articulate in communication and a good listener.

5. Is committed and prepared.

6. Has a sharp mind and good judgment.

7. Is visionary, creative and personable about business (freemasonry).

8. Can build strong relationships and act as an ambassador.

9. Is self confident without being dogmatic.

10. Is prepared to enrich their contribution through feedback.

As a Freemason – how does your conduct and approach score against the above ten points?

Freemasons who strive to act in harmony and display the above 10 attributes often make great contributions to the Craft. Indeed many of these characteristics are represented in our ritual in more arcane concepts, language and also terms like temperance, wisdom, brotherhood and prudence.

Could the list be used to help smooth your ashlar AND help your lodge?

Editors Note: Don Argus was appointed to the Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 1998 for service to business and elevated to Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 2010. He was awarded the Centenary Medal in 2001 – an honour the Master (2009-2011) of Devotion also holds.