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Leadership is the art of getting others to do something you want done because they want to do it.

When most people talk about leadership the first image that comes to mind is someone who effectively manages the everyday operations of the organization. However, there is a difference between management and leadership. "Management consists of the rational assessment of a situation and the systematic selection of goals and purposes (what is to be done?); the systematic development of strategies to achieve these goals; the marshalling of the required resources; the rational design, organization, direction and control of the activities required to attain the selected purposes; and, finally, the motivating and rewarding of people to do the work."

In other words, managers are problem solvers. They continually ask the question, "What problem needs to be solved and what are the best ways to achieve that result with the resources available." A successful manager must be persistent, intelligent and possess an ability to analyze situations. Managers must also be tolerant and patient with others while remaining dedicated to the tasks at hand.

Leadership is a special application of management. "Leaders are active instead of reactive, shaping ideas instead of responding to them. Leaders adopt a personal and active attitude toward goals. The influence a leader exerts in altering moods, evoking images and expectations, and in establishing specific desires and objectives determines the direction an organization takes. The net result of this influence is to change the way people think about what is desirable, possible, and necessary. In other words, leaders are visionaries and managers operate within those established visions."

-- Abraham Zaleznik, Harvard Business Review


Myth: Leaders are born, not made.

Have you ever heard the statement "He is a born leader?" While the statement may be true in some circumstances, it also implies that if you were not born a leader you may as well give up. This implication could not be farther from the truth. Many of the great leaders learned their skills by watching others. By identifying the characteristics which set great leaders apart from average ones, we can all learn how to be successful leaders. Artists, athletes, musicans, and many others may be born with the raw talent of their field, but it needs to be honed, refined, nurtured and practiced. Leadership is no different.

Myth: Leaders are charismatic.

How many times have you thought all good leaders are charismatic? While this may be true for some, most leaders are not. Charisma is the result of effective leadership and not the cause. Those leaders who develop charisma will tend to receive more respect from their followers, which in turn increases their ability to lead effectively. However, charisma is not a prerequisite for effective leadership.

Myth: Leadership exists only at the top of the Fraternity.

This is perhaps the leading myth about leadership and is also probably the most inaccurate. Effective leadership does not begin and end with the officers. Leadership opportunities exist everywhere for those willing to take advantage of them. Anyone who offers ideas by which the Fraternity can evolve has contributed a measure of leadership. Those willing to explore ideas, set goals, and achieve those goals are the most effective of leaders.

Myth: Effective leaders control, direct, and manipulate others.

This is perhaps the most damaging myth of all. Effective leadership is not so much the exercise of power, but instead the empowerment of others. The great leaders achieve their goals by motivating others to act. They lead by pulling instead of pushing; by inspiring instead of ordering; and by enabling others to use their own abilities instead of denying or constraining individuals.


Leaders can be placed into six different categories, regardless of their roles within the Fraternity, based upon their interactions with others. The most effective leaders are the "Team Players." As a Mason you will want to work on developing your own leadership style until you personify the "Team Player."

One-Person Show

The "One-Person Show" thinks of all the ideas, plans the implementation of those ideas, and presents those plans to the Lodge for its "rubber stamp" approval. This type of leader does not listen to alternatives offered by others and has great difficulty in getting others involved. Other members of the Lodge do not get a chance to volunteer their services because this type of leader hinders their assistance.

Crowd Pleaser

A "Crowd Pleaser" is afraid to make a decision, express an opinion, or speak out, for fear of rejection. Instead this type of leader lets others do all of the talking and make all of the decisions. The "Crowd Pleaser" tries to satisfy everyone and completely neglects what is best for the Fraternity as a whole. This type of leader often drifts from project to project, accomplishing very little.

Turned Off

Sometimes when a leader tries to suggest changes for improvement and meets with little success, he may become turned off. A "Turned Off" leader often believes that he cannot make a difference and therefore stops interacting with the other members. This type of leader does not make decisions and often causes other members to become turned off as well.

Burned Out

This type of leader has historically been involved in every aspect of the Fraternity and has taken every responsibility upon his shoulders. Now however, he is tired of doing everything and consequently becomes "Burned Out." This type of leader tends to procrastinate on every decision and may soon resent the Fraternity for extinguishing his spirit.

On the Seesaw

Occasionally a leader may recognize that he is becoming too much the "one-person show," and therefore allows everyone else to make the decisions. This switch is temporary, however, and soon the leader resumes his domination. This type of leader does not truly trust others to accomplish his goals.

Team Player

A "Team Player" is not afraid to express an opinion or offer a suggestion, and he is also willing to listen and support the ideas of others. This type of leader works creatively to involve each member in the decision making process. "Team Players" allow everyone to contribute equally which increases the ingenuity of the Fraternity.

It is not solely the responsibility of the officers to offer leadership. Every member is part of the Fraternity and must make decisions that will affect its success. Leadership does not necessarily mean taking charge. There are many different ways to lead (i.e. offering new ideas, setting an appropriate example within the band, or offering assistance to others).


Who comes to mind when you think of great leaders? What qualities make these individuals stand apart from the others? The following is a list of common qualities inherent in all great leaders. As Masons we can incorporate these qualities into our leadership style and become more effective leaders.


A positive attitude is the foundation of being a great leader. You must first believe that you can be a leader in order to be successful. If you tell yourself that you are going to fail, then you will. People tend to see things with their minds and not their eyes. No matter what the situation, if you think it is negative, it becomes negative. To avoid failure you must first practice self affirmation. Tell yourself that you will succeed and repeat that message in your mind. Second, be optimistic. If something bad occurs, learn from it, then let it go and focus on the positive. A positive attitude is the first, and most important, step to becoming a great leader.

Risk Taking

Great leaders dare to be different. They stretch the current parameters in search of new ideas. Too often individuals are afraid to venture into the unknown for fear of making mistakes. Great leaders take risks and learn from their experiences - good or bad. If they make a mistake, they take responsibility and decide immediately what must be done to correct that mistake. Individuals without leadership qualities seek to place blame on other people or on circumstances and therefore never truly learn.

Opportunity Seeking

Great leaders take the initiative to find and act upon opportunities. They do not sit and wait for something to happen. Great leaders are constantly looking for new avenues of success. They make things happen.

Goal Setting

Once an opportunity is discovered, great leaders set both long-range and short-term goals to maximize that opportunity. The keys to setting obtainable goals involve: visualizing success, breaking the goal into smaller tasks, setting deadlines for the accomplishment of those tasks, getting to work, and reviewing the goals. Great leaders perform these keys constantly to ensure that no opportunity is left unused.

Empowering Others

Great leaders understand that to achieve their vision, and gain respect and authority, they must be willing to give power to others. They delegate responsibility to other individuals and give those individuals the knowledge and resources to succeed. When the great leader's work is done the people around him will say "We did it ourselves!"

Leaders inspire a shared vision. They passionately believe that they can make a difference. They envision the future, creating an ideal and unique image of what the organization can become. Through their strong appeal and quiet persuasion, leaders enlist others in the dream. They breathe life into visions and get us to see the exciting future possibilities.

-- From The Leadership Challenge, James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner



-- From "What Subordinates Desire from Their Leaders," The Chronicle of Higher Education


Becoming Egotistical
Spreading Oneself Too Thin
Failing To Listen To The Advice Of Others
Failing To Listen To The Concerns Of Others
Disregarding One's Academic Studies
Finding It Difficult To Follow Rather Than Lead
Thinking Of Others As Being Inferior
Using Power To Control People
Becoming Overly Concerned With Your Popularity
Losing Your Sense Of Organizational Direction
Success Is A Journey, Not A Destination.

--Ben Sweetland


The final section examines several keys to effective leadership. These keys can be used by anyone to develop a more prosperous leadership style. By incorporating any, or all, of these keys into your personal leadership technique you will increase your chances of success.


The Absolutes of Leadership are a clear agenda, a personal philosophy, and enduring relationships. Good leaders create environments in which others want to give their maximum efforts. Regardless of the style of leadership you employ to develop goals or resolve a situation you will have to create a positive environment for others.

The three absolutes of leadership will assist you in creating that positive environment.

Develop a Clear Agenda

Followers need a clear idea of the goals being set for the organization. They also need to understand why those goals are important. As a leader, your job is to outline the vision to the members of your organization. Once the agenda is communicated the entire membership can begin to develop a carefully thought out plan that implements the vision.

Create a Personal Philosophy

A leader needs to have a pragmatic and understandable operating philosophy. People do not like to work with those who are uninformed or who change philosophies on a daily basis. Creating your own personal philosophy requires three steps: learning, deciding, and communicating.

Learning involves keeping informed of all activities. Remember that Masonry operates on three levels: Local Lodges, district Councils, and Grand Lodge. Leaders need to remain up-to-date with all three levels. Learning however, is not enough; it is using what you learn that makes you successful. This involves making decisions. When making decisions, leaders need to insure that the decision is clearly articulated to the members. When decisions are not communicated clearly confusion occurs which hinders the progress of the organization. Without open communication between the leaders and the members, the organization cannot carry out the agenda.

Develop Enduring Relationships

Life within Masonry consists of, among other things, building relationships. We constantly meet new people on our visitations, at our Lodges, on casual basis, and at district and Grand Lodge sessions. The growth of these relationships cannot be left to chance. The key to building and maintaining enduring relationships is respect for the other person. Respecting another person's lifestyle or point of view is not always easy. However, the importance of respecting others and developing relationships with them cannot be understated.

-- From The Absolutes of Leadership, Philip Crosby


The following leadership styles represent four fundamental methods of leading others. Each style is useful with specific types of people or during certain situations. By understanding each styles' differences, one can begin to use these styles appropriately. Problems develop when we, as leaders, have not accurately diagnosed what people need by way of direction. Instead, we make decisions on leadership style based on our own situation and not based upon the other person's needs. A good leader will be able to identify which style of leadership to use based upon each situation.

Style 1: Directing

At this first stage people need to be told exactly what to do. The leader must provide specific instructions and closely supervise the accomplishment of tasks. Constant positive and negative feedback are essential to correctly accomplish tasks.

Style 2: Coaching

The second stage is a step up on the maturity ladder. A person at this stage needs to be sold on an idea or a plan. Once that occurs the individual will be able to accomplish those tasks without close supervision.

Style 3: Supporting

People at this stage are more confident in their abilities. They can decide what tasks need to be done and what plans are required for future goals. They need to have their ideas developed and expanded upon by another leader in order to feel secure.

Style 4: Delegating

People at this stage need only to be given a sense of what the leader expects them to accomplish. From there they can develop and achieve their own goals and tasks. Little feedback is required to keep these individuals on track.

--Whether you say you can, or whether you say you can't, you're right. - Henry Ford


1. Lead by the Golden Rule.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Treat all people with respect.

2. Avoid the tendency of partiality.
Do not play favorites.
Do not forget about or ignore the people whose styles and backgrounds differ from yours/ours.

3. Follow your own rules.

Do not make a rule you will not keep, or a threat you cannot or will not carry out.
Admit when you make a mistake.

4. Lead by example.

Do as you would have others do.

5. Keep people informed.

An ignorant group is a suspicious group. Provide everyone with feedback and create a system of two-way communication.

6. You are the leader; act like it.

Remember your commitment as a leader. Do not forget that people will look to you as an example of how to act, behave, and operate.

7. Ask others for their help.

Sometimes a few heads are better than one. Involve other people in the organization's work and problem solving becomes easier.

8. Keep criticism constructive.

Remember the last time you made a mistake? Were you given constructive criticism or openly chastised for that mistake? Remember that compassion, understanding and respect allow people to grow and develop.

9. Always tell the truth and keep your word.

Your members are counting on you to be honest with them. Aren't you expecting the same from them?

10. Prepare someone to take your place.

You will not be around forever. Start building tomorrow's organization today. With more people developing leadership abilities, the group progresses faster.

Help People reach their full potential; catch them doing something right!


- Total group morale will be higher in groups in which there is more access to participation among those involved; the more open the participation, the higher the morale.

- Efficiency tends to be the lowest among groups that are the most open. Since more wrong ideas need to be sifted out, more extraneous material is generated and more time is "wasted" listening to individuals even when a point has been made.

- Groups that are most efficient tend to be those in which all members have access to a central leadership figure who can act as an expediter and clarifier, as well as keep the group on the right track in working through the problem.

- Positions that individuals take can have definite influence upon leadership in the group, as well as on potential conflict among group members.

" Groups with centralized leadership tend to organize more rapidly, be more stable in performance and show greater efficiency. However, morale also tends to drop and this, in the long run, could influence the group's stability and even productivity.

-- From Communication Networks, M.S. Shaw

If you measure success in terms of praise and criticism, your anxiety will be endless. The problem with praise and criticism is that if the group applauds you for one thing that you do, you feel good. If they don't applaud the next time, where does that leave you emotionally? If they never applaud, or are critical of your efforts, you feel hurt. In every situation, you are anxious and dependent.

-- John Heider, Leadership Strategies for a New Age


The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company.... a church.... a home.... (a fraternity or team). The remarkable thing is that we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

        -- Charles Swindoll

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Last modified: March 22, 2014