Leadership Or Something Like It

Have you ever heard the saying “he is a natural born leader”?  Is leadership genetic or an acquired skill set?  This debate has been raging for decades and in today’s membership climate, it is more relevant than ever.

The fact of the matter is that leadership is an acquired skill set but it is not easily acquired.  It requires work, research, studying, and practice every day.  It includes skills such as public relations, project management, and and time management.

So the next logical question is whether you belong to a lodge or chapter that hurries every warm body through the line?  A member is raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason and becomes Worshipful Master in 2 to 3 years.  Does that scenario benefit the craft?  ABSOLUTELY NOT! Freemasonry will not improve until the leadership improves.

So how does one acquire this skill set? First and foremost, take every course your grand jurisdiction offers.  In NY start with the LDC-8 or MDC and work your way up to the Road To The East, Master’s Chair, and IDC.  If you don’t know what these courses are, ask your DDGM or Grand Lodge Staff Officer.  Join a reading program.  The Livingston Library in NY has a series of reading programs that are virtually free.

Go to your library and read everything you can find on leadership.  Start with the old timers like Napoleon Hill or Zig Zigler, and move on to Anthony Robbins or Brian Tracey.  If you read an hour a day, you will be on the top of the leadership heap in just 3 years.

Talk to the leadership in your lodge and district.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions or offer suggestions.  Leadership is a trial and error process.  Observe your own lodge and make a note of what works and what doesn’t work.

Finally, join blogs and forums and ask questions.  Comment on posts and save the good ones for future reference.

So what are you waiting for?  Have you started yet?

About leader

District Deputy Grand Master Saratoga-Warren District 1998-2000; Grand Lodge Leadership Services Committee; Leadership Development Course Coordinator; Vice Chairman Grand Master's Educational Task Force; Vice Chairman Grand Lodge Child ID Committee; District Deputy Grand High Priest 14th Capitular District; Grand Master of the 1st Veil 2010; Grand Master 2nd Veil 2011; Grand Master 3rd Veil 2012 Grand Royal Arch Captain 2013 Grand Principal Sojourner 2014 Grand Captain of the Host 2015 Warren County Historical Society Board of Trustees; Queensbury Masonic Historical Society Charter Member; State Chairman Lodges & Buildings Committee Deputy Grand Master's Advisory Committee
This entry was posted in Education and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Leadership Or Something Like It

  1. Wayne SmithNo Gravatar says:

    Al, I think leaders are born to be leaders, but hopefully will take the time it takes to hone their God given skills. I also believe in the old saying, “lead, follow or get out of the way.” I agree with everything you said, although I would like to respond to your paragraph regarding climbing up thru the chairs to become the WM in just a few years. I ressemble that remark, although I do have age and experience. And, quite frankly, at this point in my life if I had to attend numerous classes, then climb from Jr Steward to the Master’s chair over the course of nine, ten or more years, I would have probably taken up golf or stamp collecting instead of dedicating so much of my time to Masonry.

    Obviously, one can learn how to be a leader without being a Mason. Many Masons have served in the military, para-military or private companies and organizations in leadership positions. I was an NCO in a the military and had over 12 years as a police sergeant. This gave me over fifteen years in leadership positions, prior to becoming a Mason. Serving in a war zone and on a large police department an hour north of NYC gave me plenty of opportunity to exercise those responsiblities, hone my people skills and work on my temperment.

    I realize you are advocating experience in Lodge, along with education and training. Its a worthy goal of course, but remember when a recent Grand Master declared everyone will be required to take the “Road to the East” course prior to being installed as Master? The senior members had a fit, so it was never put into practice. Now I understand that every member has to take the “Master’s Chair” class prior to installation as WM. We’ll see. When the sitting Master asks his officers if any wish to take the class and none of them raise their hands….. things will get interesting. I recently asked that question in Lodge. At first, I received no responses, but after some conjolling I had five members finally raise their hands. I will drive them to the class if necessary. I may be fairly new to Masonry, but tell me that was not effective leadership, based on my personal fear of being the WM……. forever?

    I certainly do not know everything there is to know about Masonry, but from what I’ve seen, I’ve probably studied the subject by reading, research, taking Masonic courses and by asking questions, much more than senior members who “think” they know everything.

    Personally, from my own experience, a man that falls back on his senority to win an argument becomes useless to have around. I dealt with of them thoughout my 29 years in uniform. I was 19 years old when I became an NCO, much to the chagrin of older enlisted men. As a police sergeant I had members under me who had more than twice as many years on the job as I did. But, I had a job to do, so telling me how many years they had ‘over me’ didn’t impress me much. My answer was, “then how come I’m not working for you?” I studied, put in the effort and worked hard to get to those positions, they did not. Hmm….. like Lodge?

    Alas, with diminishing membership the choice of a strong leader will become tougher since the Lodge has fewer to choose from. In my opinion we need to encourage the new Master Masons to get “up to speed” as quickly as possible so they can fill the higher chairs sooner, rather than later. Today’s young folks are accustomed to immediate gratification for their labors. Demanding long periods of learning the craft before advancing will cause them to lose interest and move on to something else, like playing ‘Farmville’ or “Mafia Wars” on facebook.

    I look forward to a spirited debate.

  2. leaderNo Gravatar says:

    Wayne, you make some valid points, however, one of them fortifies my original article. You spent 15 years in a military leadership position – do you think you were born with those skills or do you think that this experience gave you the tools necessary to face the Masonic Leadership challenges of today?

    Leadership courses are not sufficient to hone the skills necessary for today’s challenge. These individuals have to have already achieved the necessary level of skill required to run the organization – that combined with Masonic intricacies makes for a great Master or High Priest. By encouraging others to take the LDC-8, Master’s Chair or Road To The East, we can find the talent to lead our fraternity forward.

Comments are closed.