LEADERSHIP IS EXPECTED AND RESPECTED

 

One of the most irritating and disconcerting things during any

Masonic meeting is when two or more Brethren on the sidelines get

into a sotto voce discussion. It's even worse when one of them is

hard of hearing. When this happens during degree work, it can throw

off even the best of ritualists. We've all seen--and heard--it

happen.

 

It is a distraction from the solemnity of the ritual. It's

discourteous to the degree team; it's robbing the candidate of the

benefit of what should be a meaningful experience; and it is

insulting to the Brethren who are trying to hear.

 

Unfortunately, the offending offensive Brethren don't seem to realize

that they are disturbing their colleagues. They don't realize that

they can be heard ..or, possibly they don't care.

 

How to overcome situations like this is a leadership problem which

faces many Masters. Should he rap the gavel and ask for quiet? Should

he have someone go over to the offending Brethren and ask them to be

quiet? Should he ask them to leave the lodge room? Or should he

ignore them?

 

The answers to these questions will depend on many factors. The

mantle of leadership comes in many guises. The personality of the

Master will to a large degree, dictate the manner in which he can

best cope with the situation. There are some with strong

authoritative images, who can maintain order merely by a meaningful

glance; while others must resort to persuasion, reasoning or other

methods .

We recognize that the Worshipful Master has the authority to take

strong action. His word is LAW. However, in the interest of "peace

and harmony" he will--if he is a good leader -- use only the "force"

necessary to overcome an infraction. Gentle persuasion is probably

the best tool he has. By "whispering wise words of counsel in the ear

of an erring Brother" or having it done, will usually secure the

desired results.

 

We heard of one Grand Master who was speaking at a lodge in his own

Jurisdiction which had a reputation of sideline chatter. Even as he

was speaking, the lodge Secretary and the lodge Treasurer became

involved in a heated, whispered argument, which proved most

distracting. In fact, it became so disconcerting that the Grand

Master lost his train of thought. Rapping the gavel, he addressed the

talkative Brothers and sternly told them that he had been invited to

speak; that he intended to speak, but that he was not going to have

any competition. Upon resuming his prepared remarks, you could have

heard a pin drop, it was so quiet. In fact, the remainder of the

evening, the lodge maintained a subdued attitude. Everything was

quite proper.

 

As he left the temple, he said to himself that that was probably the

last time he would be invited to that lodge. How wrong he was. He

later learned that at the next meeting of the lodge, the Secretary

apologized to the Master and to the lodge for the embarrassment they

had caused and moved that the Grand Master be elected an Honorary

Member of the lodge. The Treasurer seconded the motion, which was

unanimously carried. He is the only Past Grand Master holding

Honorary Membership in that lodge.

 

In recounting that story, the Grand Master, now Past Grand Master,

uses it to illustrate several valid points of leadership. (I) Leaders

MUST lead! (2) When you are in the "right," you have nothing to fear.

(3) Leadership is expected and respected. (4) Harmony must prevail .

 

Courtesy - common courtesy - is a trait of mankind. It is a two-way

street. It is a hallmark

of a Mason.

 

We frequently see Masters who try too hard to be a "good old boy."

They joke too much, and in doing so, invite a great deal of sideline

chatter. Their meetings become .so informal that the lodge is

subjected to ridicule. Their lack of leadership is counter-

productive. Instead of creating an atmosphere of dignity and decorum,

they produce a comedy of contagious errors, which reflect upon the

character of the lodge, and frequently drives the Brethren away from

the lodge in droves.

 

Even worse, however, is the silver-tongued Master who is a born

ritualist. His intonations,

expression and sincerity are superb when he delivers the ritual. BUT,

as soon as the lodge is closed, he becomes a loud-mouthed, foul-

mouthed, woman-chasing rogue. He completely ignores his own beautiful

rendition of the charge "to put into practice outside the lodge,

those principles which are inculcated therein." This "Frankenstein

Monster" has the leadership potential of an "off mule."

 

Everyone in leadership positions in any field of endeavor, either

consciously or subconsciouly, develops a style of leadership

techniques which fit their personality. What is effective for one

might be an absolute flop for another. Some of the leadership

techniques could easily be described as gimmicks.

 

On the night of his installation, one Master announced that he was

assigning a specific task to each of the 200 members of the lodge,

which he would like to have completed within three months. What he

had done involved a great deal of planning which is an essential in

leadership. Over a period of months, he had developed a list of

things which needed to be done around the lodge. He charged one

member to see that each task was accomplished.

 

No one job involved much time or effort, but it did involve everyone.

Tacking down a piece of

upholstery on the Junior Warden's station; scrubbing the lavatory;

painting the stair rail; repairing strings on aprons; cleaning the

glass on the Past Master's pictures; replacing a frayed cord on the

Secretary's desk lamp; oiling the hinges on the Preparation Room

door; replacing a tile in the kitchen floor; having the window

curtains dry cleaned; helping the Secretary address envelopes;

preparing a telephone roster; refinishing the Stewards' and Deacons'

rods; developing a roster of Widows-and the list went on and on. Each

task was matched with a member's name, one who had the time and

ability to do it.

 

To coordinate and supervise the execution of the assignments, the

Master assigned his officers. This, too, is an important element of

leadership.

 

In the following weeks, the lodge building was a hub-bub of activity,

as the members gathered to carry out their respective

responsibilities. Some came during the lunch hour, others in the

afternoon and some in the evening. Fellowship reigned as one Brother

helped the other. Wives frequently came along to help out, and often

brought along refreshments. Even after a job had been finished, many

came back to see what else was being done. A coffee-klatch developed.

Cribbage and pinochle games often started after the work was done.

 

The exciting thing that happened though, was the dramatic increase of

attendance at even the Stated Meetings. And, at these, the Master was

careful to exercise another trait of leadership by recognizing the

accomplishments of each member and showing appreciation. Not only did

the lodge building sparkle with its improvements, the members had

become Masons in the true sense of the word, with a genuine concern

for one another.

 

Just as the "spin-offs" of the Space Program have produced many

improvements in our daily lives, the "spin-offs" of this Master's

leadership have had a lasting effect upon the lodge and upon the

community. A Master is expected to show leadership. He did. And his

leadership is respected. However, his brand of leadership might not

"fit" another.

 

The first impression many visiting Brethren get of a lodge is their

reception by the Tiler (or, if you prefer-Tyler). How meticulous is

he in checking your dues card; having you sign the register; seeing

if you can be avouched for or if you need the "dreaded Committee;"

providing an apron or in taking up "the word" can either "turn you

on" or "turn you off." His is a thankless-yet important-job, yet it

is somehow often ignored.

 

One Tiler in a small town lodge was getting more than his share of

harassment from one of the members one night. Finally, after about

five minutes of constant harangue, the Tiler became fed up. Picking

up the "implement of his office," he said,, "My job is to keep off

cowans and eavesdroppers. I wish to H------it was to keep off horses-

asses." It was crude. Yet it was forceful. It accomplished its

purpose. It was a form of leadership.

 

Much has been said and written about Masonic Leadership. (See Short

Talk Bulletins: 1-70, Lodge Leadership; 4-52, Masonic Man- ners; 2-

41, Master; 10-39, Art of Presiding; 2-48, Parliamentary Law in

Freemasonry; 10-74, Powers of the Worshipful Master.) (See Masonic

Digests: Leadership - how to Develop It; Leadership Training; Think

Tank for Junior Wardens.) There are no hard and fast rules.

Leadership is a matter of interest for every Mason. Leadership is

common courtesy. Leadership is a two-way street. Leadership is

essential .

 

We show our leadership by the way we act toward others. It's as

simple as setting the example by the way we conduct ourselves on the

sidelines, or as complicated as controlling the discussions on an

emotion-packed motion.

 

Each of us has some leadership potential or ability. It's a trait

worth developing and practicing. Just as a pair of pants won't fit

everyone, we must tailor our leadership abilities to fit our own

personalities.