who leads the leader?
W. Bro. Alden H. Jones
In 1973, at the 26th Annual Tri-State Conference held in Portland, Oregon,
the Junior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of Washington presented a paper
entitled, "How to Promote Effective Leadership in Our Constituent Lodges." This
Short Talk Bulletin has been adapted from that paper. The author, Most
Worshipful Brother Alden H. Jones, served as Grand Master of Masons in
Washington in 1975-76.
What is effective leadership? Who provides Lodge leadership? What can the lodge
leader be expected reasonably to do? What happens if he doesn't do these things?
Why isn't lodge leadership automatic? How do you promote something that doesn't
exist? Who leads the leader?
We have leadership problems in some, if not many, of our lodges. Another way to
describe the situation is to say that we have many problems in our lodges and
some of them are the result of ineffective leadership. An evaluation report from
one of our District Deputies stated recently that the affairs of a certain lodge
had not been well handled during the year because "The Worshipful Master is not
gifted with the qualities of leadership."
What exactly was our Deputy telling us? First, that the constructive activities
of the lodge had not been implemented; second, that this is a one-man lodge -
the members look solely to the Master for lodge leadership; third, that the one
man was not aware of what he is expected to do or of how to do it, and, fourth,
that the members were resigned to letting the affairs of the lodge drift along
for another year.
Let's examine these points. What are the constructive activities of the lodge
which require implementation? Prompt opening and closing of meetings, proficient
opening and closing ceremonies, courteous reception of visitors, considerate
attention to candidates, orderly and harmonious disposal of lodge business,
informative special programs, community projects and public ceremonies, Masonic
encouragement and inspiration for the Brethren. These are examples of
constructive activities of a lodge. They are the things that we expect to find
when we go to a lodge meeting, for we know that lodges die if they don't engage
in purposeful activities.
Now, what about leadership of the symbolic lodge? To whom do we look for
leadership? Why, to the Master, of course. Then what if he isn't a leader? We
cannot demand it of him. He is chosen democratically by a majority vote and any
member is eligible to be chosen Master of his lodge. This is for a good Masonic
reason and it has nothing to do with his gift of leadership. More often than
not, the primary qualifying factor for a Master is his willingness to take the
office, rather than his gift of leadership.
Our selection of officers sets in motion a situation which, by its own
horsepower, isn't likely to provide the effective leadership we desperately
need. The Master was originally appointed to the line because of his regular and
early attendance at our meetings, plus, perhaps, his ability to make good ham
sandwiches or his good companionship as a fishing partner. The new Steward was
instructed to assist the Deacons and other officers and he was encouraged to
expect advancement through the line. In due course he was elected Master of his
lodge and at his installation he pledged his allegiance to Grand Lodge, promised
to observe the By-Laws of his lodge and to carefully perform "all the duties
appertaining to his office." Then he was given fifteen paragraphs of charges and
regulations and not once were the words "leader" or "leadership" spoken. We
extracted from him a promise to attend Grand Lodge but when we required his
pledge to "pay attention to all the duties of Masonry" we immediately gave him
an out by adding "on convenient occasions. " As a crowning gesture we told him,
apparently with tongue in cheek, that he is now to be installed "Master of
Temple Lodge in full confidence of your skill and capacity to govern the same."
Then we spent the next twelve months grumbling because he didn't have the gift
We have dwelt on this superficial and exaggerated appraisal in a negative, and
therefore a non- Masonic manner in order to emphasize this point. The
installation of a Worshipful Master does not automatically assure leadership in
a lodge. leadership is not a Masonic virtue. We should separate our expectation
of Masonic attributes and when leadership qualities are missing, we should be
willing to become involved and offer our leadership knowledge to help fill the
Let us turn to our third element and consider the details of the leadership
pattern which must prevail if constructive activities are to be implemented in
1. THE LEADER ORGANIZES. He plans ahead, assigns committees, delegates
work, holds officer meetings, gets people involved.
2. THE LEADER IS ORDERLY AND REGULAR. He comes early to the Temple, starts
meetings on time, and anticipates problems, acts decisively, avoids late
3. THE LEADER ARRANGES INTERESTING MEETINGS. He provides instruction,
motivation and inspiration, invites guest speakers, recalls great moments in
Masonry, holds special nights to generate interest.
4. THE LEADER PRESERVES THE LANDMARKS. He schedules a review and discussion of
these to point out their great importance, calls attention when one is
involved in lodge work.
5. THE LEADER ENHANCES MASONRY'S IMAGE. He keeps the Temple bright and clean,
encourages public ceremonies such as installations, Ladies Nights, School
Awards, Church attendance clothed as Masons.
6. THE LEADER FOLLOWS THE STANDARD WORK. He studies the Ritual regularly and
asks other officers to do the same, encourages corrections, observes work in
7. THE LEADER PRACTICES BROTHERHOOD. He is considerate, gives credit, shows
appreciation, holds honor nights, is responsible and on call when needed.
8. THE LEADER IS REALISTIC. HE faces duties with honesty, withholds praise if
it is not due, pulls no punches when hard decisions have to be made.
9. THE LEADER ADOPTS A MAJOR PROJECT. He involves the lodge in something to
sustain its interest for several months, or all year, such as a Sojourners
Program, a Community Project, a Youth Program, a Bulletin, a Masonic Library.
IO. THE LEADER SPONSORS MASONRY'S HIGH PURPOSE. He makes meetings a source of
inspiration for the spirit, encourages thinking on a high plane, focuses
attention on man's potential for excellence and greatness.
Ah, yes, if the Master is gifted with the qualities of leadership, he
performs these and similar acts and thus creates opportunity and impetus for an
ongoing lodge program. But if he isn't gifted, how do we help him? How do we
give him leadership? The key word is HOW. HOW do we promote leadership when it
We contend that we are all a part of this drama and that we have a duty to make
it work. Some of us may have a personal involvement; each of us has watched the
developing picture in our lodge and has a deep concern for the outcome. We
should look in the mirror and say, "You own a piece of this action. Don't give
me your old worn-out excuse that nobody interferes with the Worshipful Master.
What about Brotherhood? What about Service? What about Unity? What about the
Instructive Tongue? What about reminding a Brother in a most friendly manner?"
Obviously, not all who see the need are qualified to lead the leader, but there
are those in any group who know at least part of the answer and who can be
trusted to provide personal counseling with propriety. This should be
encouraged. Practical advice or a discreet suggestion from a respected Brother
can often convey a crucial message. Past Masters who have the precious gift of
seeing a lodge problem for its relevance with 1983 and not as a carry-over from
1957 belong in this elite group of private counselors. District Deputies are
uniquely qualified for leadership guidance. Not only were they appointed because
of their leadership qualities, but they are charged to assist the lodges to the
best of their ability and they are supported by the authority of the Grand
Master. This authority is not used nearly often enough to pry open stubborn
One step beyond private counseling is the action which can be taken within the
lodge by individual officers or Brethren as a means of encouraging decisiveness
thus, leadership, on the part of the Master. Proposals can be made for lodge
projects of programs, and discussions can be introduced to bring information
into the open and obtain an indication of interest by the lodge members and set
the stage for the Master's decision. Motions for lodge commitment can be useful
in forcing a leadership decision.
Such strategy would be utilized for the primary purpose of promoting lodge
activity but it should be done invariably in a manner to accommodate the lodge
Master and as a step in developing his leadership potential. If he is fully
informed of the proposed business before the meeting, then so much the better.
A third type of correction for ineffective leadership is in group study of
leadership principles. Lodge officer associations should sponsor such studies
through discussion, lecture or seminar programs. Grand Lodge Officers and
Committees should be involved in the leadership improvement effort by the offer
of instructional programs in lodges or officer associations. As a last resort,
we may look eventually to Grand Lodge for a formal program of leadership
training for officers of constituent lodges. In fact, the time for that may be
later than we think.
In summary, although we look to the Worshipful Master for leadership, we often
find him with limited ability and we cannot demand more from him; that lodge
leadership is a management function and should not be confused with the
philosophical duties of the Master; that when leadership qualities are absent,
the welfare of the lodge is in danger; that the technique of leadership and the
pattern of lodge management can be defined and transmitted as a counseling or
training process; that when the need for guidance is evident, those qualified to
provide it should do so as a Masonic duty; and, finally, that any action taken
should be expressly for the assistance of the Worshipful Master and at his will
and pleasure even when we use a 2 x 4 to get his attention, tenderly, of course.
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