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Tangible Means Of Developing Executive Leadership Qualities



Grand Lodge, F.A.A.M. of the District of Columbia

Scientists inform us that we cannot conceal the secrets of nature. In the same manner, there are no real secrets to handling human beings... including ourselves. The techniques cannot be concealed; and yet some men are able to use them successfully, and others are not.

The only true key to the development of executive leadership qualities... as all who have set out upon the path have eventually learned... is to really want to become an executive leader. There are many blueprints for executive success, and they can be followed by anyone who really cares to do so; and how important they are in todayís world when there are so many demands and drains upon our time and efforts.

Do not think that you own time, yours or anyone elseís. Our twenty-four inch gauge teaches us of the value of time -- that there is none to be wasted and we should heed the lessons it teaches. We should try to plan our time as effectively as possible; but we must also develop the ability to incorporate interruptions and distractions into our plans.

President Eisenhowerís comment when he viewed a wrist deep pile of papers upon his desk awaiting his signature was a jestful, "I wish I had a shorter name." Like every executive leader, he was aware of the never-ending pressure for efficiency to get more accomplished in less time.

It has often been said that "love at first sight is a great time saver". How true this concept is when a leader can get immediate mutual consent on basic objectives.

What is executive leadership?

Executive leadership is the influence we are able to exert upon others by virtue of our managerial, inspirational and moral abilities. In the business world, we can often buy a manís time, but in the Masonic Fraternity a brotherís loyalty and cooperation must often be inspired. As is true, however, in so many other areas, principles which have application to the profane world have equal application to our Brotherhood.

We can best succeed in inspiring our brothers when we:

1. Inspire ourselves to do and say the right things.

2. Subordinate our own desires to the good of our brethren, our Lodge, and the Masonic Fraternity.

3. Sell Freemasonry, not ourselves.

4. Set an example that others will respect and admire.

In so doing, we must be sincere in everything we do. The word "sincere" comes from the Latin "sin cera", which means "without wax". Just as we make reference to the use of untempered mortar, many Roman sculptors used to fill in the cracks and chinks of their marble statuary with wax. As a result, a really genuine piece of work was often advertised as being "sin cera."

For truly successful executive leadership, our sincerity must be "without wax." It. cannot be just a sentimental belief. There must be a predetermined moral decision to have no chinks or cracks in our integrity in whatever position of leadership we are asked to serve.

In a commencement message at the University of Tennessee on June 17, 1890, Woodrow Wilson addressed himself to (1) men who think and (2) men who act. He pointed out that leadership resolves the two functions into one. The leader is the thinking man in action.

Classes of leaders

There have been many classifications of various kinds of leaders, but they generally fall into two basic types:

The "master" type, who has a strong desire for self-expression, is more interested in his personal ascendance over others, is more extraverted, and is likely to be characterized as egotistical.

The "educator" type, who is usually more interested in serving others... in helping his followers develop in the directions they wish to go, is himself more of an introvert, sometimes has a tendency toward selfdoubt, and is often characterized as sympathetic.

The "master" strives to attract followers whose personalities he can exploit, even though he claims that what he does is for the benefit of those exploited.

The "educator" doesnít find it necessary to destroy other persons or their ideas, because he is driven to lead others to go beyond that which is within their grasp. He not only tolerates, but encourages successors who may explore ahead and render his own work obsolete.

General leadership functions

An executive leader must be guided by a large number of leadership functions.

Among them, he should:

a. Set work goals or objectives with the group

b. Help the group reach these goals

c. Coordinate one worker with another

d. Help new individuals fit into and be accepted by the group

e. Work for the success of the group, rather than his own record

f. Exemplify "humanness" and consideration.

In addition, he must be a good administrator. Proper administration in our Fraternity includes, among many other things,

1. Continual "pulse taking" of your Lodge, your district, or whatever segment you are serving

2. Successful decision making

3. Effective communication

4. Planning ... toward short and long range goals

5. Activation and implementation of your plans

6. Solving problems ... and clearing the stones out of the road.

Each of these basic functions of administration is interdependent upon the others.

You cannot make decisions without giving and receiving information. You cannot hope to lay out plans without the benefit of communication, decision making and problem solving. You cannot activate your plans without taking the pulse of your Lodge or district, and communicating with your members to spur them on toward the attainment of your goals and assisting in clearing the stones out of the road.

Final responsibility for decisions must rest with the executive leader. Some people spend hours over decisions; others make snap decisions; and still others refuse to make decisions, failing to realize that in so doing they have actually made a decision.

The executive leader must regularly ask himself "What are the issues which require my decision?" Before you reach a conclusion, study the alternatives carefully and determine to what extent they involve (1) you and the members of your Lodge or district, (2) Freemasonry in general, (3) things you cannot change and (4) things you can do something about. Always try to find at least three working alternatives before choosing one.

Some people view leadership as "marching ahead of a group which is already going in your direction." If this were all there is to it, you would really not be needed.

There is a great deal of difference between getting people to do

a. What they already want to do

b. What they feel neutral about doing

c. What they do not want to do.

A key test of real leadership occurs when we have to get men to do what they may not want to do, and at this time leaders often fall into one or more of the following categories;

1. The ostrich.....who refuses to see the unpleasant problems

2. The quitter.....who stops leading when people stop following

3. The accuser....who blames everyone else for his troubles

4. The bully........who tries to browbeat people into following him

5. The frantic......who panics and flies into emotional escapades

6. The leader.......who may be exhilarated by challenge or depressed by disappointments; but who sees what needs to be done and tries to do it by calling his powers into action, exerting his managerial and technical abilities, setting a strong moral example, applying his knowledge of human relations, and inspiring others to follow his examples and precepts.

He has to remember that:

a. A brother wants to be treated as an individual

b. A brother likes to know that his leader has confidence in him

c. Praise develops a brother more readily than criticism

d. A leader should not generalize or be vague, but should deal with definite points

e. A follower prefers a leader who has a positive manner that displays self- confidence and knowledge.

Since time would never permit our consideration of all the many facets of executive leadership, I would like to consider just one or two of the more important tools which the wise Masonic leader should make use of.

Delegation of work and authority

Many management experts believe today that the delegation of work and authority is the most essential function of a leader. To them, the effectiveness of oneís ability to delegate is a measure of his leadership ability. If a leader is to be truly effective, he must delegate to others, or he will get bogged down in detail and unable to perform his duties as a leader. Furthermore, if the Masonic leader tries to do all of his own work and also all of the interesting and important part of the work of others, leaving them nothing but routine, then his brothers will lose interest and enthusiasm.

The real success of a leader, therefore, is not in "doing it all himself ", but in his ability to recognize the right person to do it; in seeing that that person has the training and the knowledge; and then giving him authority and responsibility for the job, and letting this capable person do it in his own way.

For some strange reason, most leaders donít delegate enough. Sometimes this is because they get satisfaction only out of doing a job themselves. Occasionally they are jealous of others, and afraid to delegate. Often it is because of a lack of confidence in other people. Many donít believe that anyone else can do the job the same way they can.

Andrew Carnegie once said "It marks a big step in a manís development when he comes to realize that other men can be called in to help him do a better job than he can do alone. The secret. of success is not in doing your own work, but in recognizing the right man to do it." He proposed the following epitaph for his gravestone... "Here lies a man who knew how to enlist in his service better men than himself."

Real delegation calls for building up in the individuals to whom we delegate a sense of responsibility for the jobs they are given. A leader who says he canít delegate... who would rather do the job himself than go through the difficulties and frustrations of getting another to do it... is really admitting that he is not a leader.

Greater efficiency is far from the only motive for delegation. It develops morale...and vitality. It can build your Lodge or district into a team, and there is nothing more important to the whole concept of Freemasonry than teamwork among the fellowship of those who are brothers. It will develop in your brother a greater sense of responsibility to his Lodge, by enlarging his general understanding of its work and meaning and thereby increasing his interest and participation in its affairs.

The Masonic leader can make no greater contribution to the precepts of our Fraternity than by constantly coaching, guiding and motivating that portion of the Craft entrusted to his care toward the achievement of organization and teamwork.


Letís take a minute to define some of the words we have been using:

Delegation has been defined as giving others the authority to act in your behalf, accompanied with responsibility and accountability for results.

Responsibility has been defined as the duties of the position you occupy in carrying out the job you are expected to do.

Authority includes the right to make decisions, give orders, and take action.

Accountability is your liability to your superior... and your obligation to accept responsibilities and to use authority.

Delegation, therefore, is not merely enlisting others to do errands and chores for you, It must be coupled with responsibility and authority, which develops human resources.

To properly delegate, we must first have the proper attitude. We must be willing to (1) entrust others with responsibilities, (2) give freedom of action, (3) delegate to strengthen our organization, by utilizing latent talent, (4) proceed in easy steps and stages, and (5) let those to whom we delegate make more of the decisions.

Guides for Delegation

The objectives of the task delegated must be clearly understood and sharply defined. Have all essential activities covered by the delegating, but try to state the goals in terms of results rather than activities; and be sure the nature and scope of the delegation are clearly enumerated.

Recognize that there is a great difference between assigning and delegating. Provide clear responsibility for the task, set a target date for completion, and let the person do his own thinking, seeing that others cooperate.

Since in the final analysis, responsibility still remains with the leader, it is vital that effective controls be maintained and a system set up for proper follow-up reporting. You must still "keep a string" on the job, and see that standards and deadlines are met.

Finally, be prepared for blunders, try to plan so that a mistake can be made without causing serious consequences.

When should you delegate?

a. Anytime there are things you do not have to do yourself

b. Delegate when you are overburdened

c. Delegate in emergencies

d. Delegate when you must be absent

What should you delegate?

a. Routine details that recur

b. Tasks that others can handle as well or better... using specialized skills of others

c. Activities that will lead to the development of others for leadership and will test their abilities.

When not to delegate

There are certain things you should not delegate. For example, you alone should appraise, reward or admonish those who follow you and do those jobs requiring your status and position. Do not delegate:

a. Responsibilities for maintaining morale

b. The power of discipline

c. A duplicate of your job

d. Policy making power

e. Over-all control

f. The "hot potato"...just to take yourself off the spot

g. Anything too technical

h. Duties involving personal trust or confidence in you

It is worth repeating that responsibility clings, even if delegated. The leader may hold his delegate accountable to him, but he in turn is accountable to those whom he serves. You cannot side-step the responsibility by passing the buck to the person to whom you have delegated.

To whom should you delegate?

Delegate to your immediate subordinates...not to those under them

Where possible, delegate to those persons with the most unused time

Consider delegating to persons who need experience... with care

Delegate to those whose ability you wish to test

Do not give in to the temptation to delegate to the person who is always the most capable

Finally, you may sometimes, with care, want to delegate to the lowest person in whom you believe performance capability exists.

Motivation and persuasion

Delegation can never be effectively carried out without an understanding of motivation and the use of some degree of persuasion.

In the aforementioned commencement address, Woodrow Wilson said:

"That the leader of men must have such sympathetic insight as shall enable him to know quite unerringly the motives which move other men in the mass is of course self-evident; but this insight which he must have is not the Shakespearean insight. It need not pierce the particular secrets of individual men: it need only know what it is that lies waiting to be stirred in the minds and purposes of groups and masses of men."

He went on to say: "Men are not led by being told what they donít know. Persuasion is a force, but not information; and persuasion is accomplished by creeping into the confidence of those you would lead. Their confidence is gained by qualities which they can recognize, by arguments which they can assimilate, by the things which find easy entrance into their minds and are easily transmitted to the palms of their hands....."

Persuasion has been described as "Getting someone to do something that you want done... because he wants to do it." Compare the results this may accomplish with what you may get if you exercise your authority to force agreement.

To be a valuable leader we must be able to motivate those whom we lead, and in order to motivate, we must learn to recognize and use the dominant drives in people.

Controlling human behavior consists in arranging conditions in such a way that people will do the things you want them to do. It is imperative, therefore, that a leader understand the conditions underlying human motivation insofar as science has been able to determine them. There is motivation in everything we do. Even in the most deliberate of voluntary acts, we are probably only rarely aware of all the forces at work within us compelling us toward a particular course of action.

In order to understand why a person fails or succeeds at a task which confronts him, we must. know two things:

(1) How much ability has he for the task in question?

(2) How strongly motivated is he?

Failure may be due to a lack of either; and although a low degree of one may be compensated for to some extent by a high degree of the other, complete success requires a high degree of ability working with a high degree of motivation.

In each of us, there are certain internal conditions or forces, without which there would be no activity. These conditions, which direct our responses to external stimuli are called "drives" or "motives".

Early psychologists believed that man had three needs... food, sex and shelter; but some more recent psychologists have divided our basic drives into five very broad classes:

1. Biological

2. Security or safety needs

3. Prestige needs

4. The need to belong ... sociability or group needs

5. The drive for self-development and self-growth

The biological needs stem from our strongest drive for self-preservation and comfort, and most of the people with whom we have to deal are rarely controlled by these desires today.

Few of those with whom we contact today are dominantly motivated by the safety or security need. We do find those, however, whose main goal is to stay out of trouble, to play it safe; who do not like anything new or unfamiliar, or anything that implies change; and who will frantically cover up their mistakes and pass the buck in any direction in order to avoid personal blame. Our approach in leading these people must be to assure them that there is no threat to their "safe" positions.

Our brotherís need for esteem is almost without end. There are none of us who do not find satisfaction in a job well done; and this is felt many fold when our efforts are recognized and appreciated by others. Our desire for status among our fellow men is a powerful stimulation. This desire can work to make both good and bad leaders, and also both good and bad followers. We must learn to control it in ourselves...and utilize it in motivating others.

All of us want to feel that we belong to some group or team, want to feel affection and friendship, want to be liked by those we know and respect and trust. If this drive becomes too dominant, we may become a (1) popularity seeker, whose primary concern is to be liked regardless of what he does; (2) an approval seeker, who constantly needs reassurance and a vote of confidence; or (3) an authoritarian, who measures and grades all people along a scale of power and who divides them into classes of "inferiors", to be pushed around or "superiors", whom he worships and obeys. If we learn to recognize these drives in people, we can often put them to use in accomplishing our goals.

The man most fitted to be a leader is the one who is not overly dominated by any of the aforementioned drives but the one who constantly strives to grow, develop and expand his own personality and who recognizes that he can never completely realize his own growth potential. He constantly looks for what is best for all the members of his Lodge. He is steady and democratic, without being a popularity seeker. He has a sense of humor, and enjoys creativity; and is not distressed when others do not do things exactly as he would have done them. He constantly looks toward the long range goals of his Lodge and of Freemasonry, recognizing that he is a valuable stepping stone in a never ending process of Masonic evolution. He learns to use the basic drives of those whom he leads. To put it briefly, when he recognizes a "safety first" person, he does not try to put him to work with an appeal to be daring and creative.

Conclusions on executive leadership

The secrets of handling people are often so much more simple than we would believe on first thought.

a. Ask questions to win cooperation. Get peopleís aid you and help their self-confidence. So often you can make suggestions to them in the form of questions that will let them talk themselves into a cooperative attitude.

b. Increase othersí self-esteem... to boost loyalty. Make the other fellow feel important, and that he means something to you and to his Lodge. Donít ever hesitate to give credit, appreciation and encouragement. Remember that whittlers are likely to let the knife slip and cut themselves; and helping other people to increase their self-esteem makes them better able to help you.

c. Be direct in your personal contact with people. When you communicate, look them in the eye, and donít beat around the bush.

d. Be brief in conversation; donít drag it out. If you cannot interest others in what you have to say, you are probably taking too long to say it. Too much talking often defeats our purpose. Einstein gave the following formula:

X + Y + Z = success

He said that X represented hard work and Y represented play. Someone asked him what Z stood for. "That", said the genius, "is the ability to keep your mouth shut."

We learn by listening, not talking, and in so doing we bolster the other personís ego. When a situation is tense, when someone is angry or unhappy, be brief, let him talk, and listen.

e. Be earnest and sincere in what you believe in, for there is nothing like these attributes to win people over to your way of thinking. Often the power of earnestness properly displayed will enable us to hold people in the palm of our hand.

f. Search for good ... to uncover ability. A true leader is often known by the men he develops; and our Grand Lodge officers have certainly displayed this idea in recent years. Andrew Carnegie, who started from scratch, developed forty three men who became millionaires. The great industries he started are still strong today, since these men in turn made it a practice to develop other younger men. With the forced rapid turnover of our Masonic leadership, this rule is much more imperative than in business.

g. Give praise ... to secure best efforts. Praise counts most when it comes from the leader, and so often he is the one who neglects it. If we donít use praise when handling people, we are not truly leading them; for this is one of the most effective tools to assure continued and increased cooperation.

h. Use criticism... in a way to win appreciation, it has been said that only a fool criticizes people openly... and yet, only a fool neglects to criticize those who need it. What is important is doing it in the right way.

1. Criticize in private, and not in the presence of others

2. Do it with a smile, in a friendly manner

3. Try to give praise first, to take the sting out.

4. Appeal to the personís self-interest.

5. Make it truly constructive. Show how, and donít merely find fault. If you donít know how, keep your mouth shut.

6. Try to end with a bit of praise and a pat on the back that is sincere.

i. Present a confident bearing -- to help control others. A leader must appear confident, not only in words, but also in the firmness with which they are said. He should have a confident handshake, always stand tall, and act as if it were impossible to fail.

j. Be overcome opposition. Friendliness is catching, and a friendly manner often gets attention and cooperation that can be attained in no other way. Assume that people will like you, and that you will like people, and so very often your assumption will prove to be the case.

k. Know your order to generate harmony. We speak of the strength and support of our institution, but we cannot provide for this support unless we have some personal knowledge and understanding of our brothers. Find out everything you can about those who are working with you and those you must lead. Without some knowledge in this direction, you cannot go about the business of generating and maintaining harmony.

Finally, do not despair over the vast number of things you should learn to become a leader of the Craft. The old proverb... a journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step... is equally true along the path to executive leadership.

Learn one thing today; perfect one skill today; take one step today... and in a yearís time, with ample leeway, YOU can be at least 300 steps ahead. If you begin this process as Junior Deacon, you will have ascended over 1,200 steps before you reach the pinnacle of the East.

But you must begin today to take those steps which will prepare you for leadership in the future; ever keeping in your mind those eight succinct words of Kuan Fei, third century Chinese poet, covering the attempts of man to cope with the future:

The plans

Are manís.

The odds

Are Godís.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014