The Masonic Fraternity with all its various organizations bestows a lot of titles. Most, who receive these titles, along with the fancy headgear, jewels, medals, and other emblems of rank that come with them, carry their titles with pride and have distinguished themselves as effective leaders.
Unfortunately, there are a few men who receive titles and believe that the title is all they need to be a leader. They don’t realize that the title is only the first step in becoming an effective leader.
Peter Drucker said, “Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility.”
Dr. John Maxwell says that the true measure of leadership is influence. The greater the positive influence a person has in an organization, the higher the level of his leadership and the more effective he is as a leader. To further define the levels of influence Dr. Maxwell devised the 5 Levels of Leadership. The first level which is called the Position Level. This is where everyone begins their leadership journey.
You are elected or appointed to a position in the lodge and receive a title. This title comes with certain rights and responsibilities and people follow you at this level because they have to. They are following you because your title signifies that you are in charge.
But this title doesn’t mean that you automatically have all the knowledge and skills to make you an effective leader. This title means initially that someone has recognized that you have leadership potential. So, receiving your title says to the rest of the lodge brothers “hey watch this guy, I think he may become a great leader.”
It is possible to become a great leader and never have a title. But the fact that you have one gives you a head start and some time for you to develop your leadership skills so you can grow into that great leader Masonry needs.
You shouldn’t view your title as permitting you to control others, that they are there to help you, or they should do what you say or else. This attitude will cause people not to want to be around you. You will be perceived as arrogant and people will give only the minimum effort and will not follow you very long.
You need to realize that people, not your title, is your most valuable asset.
Max DePree, retired CEO & Chairman of the Herman Miller Company, in his book “Leadership is an Art,” said this, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.”
That is what you should do as a Level one or positional leader is to define reality by taking stock of yourself to understand your leadership strengths and weaknesses.
Why is knowing your strengths and weaknesses important? In his book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,” Dr. Maxwell starts with The Law of the Lid.” In this law, he explains that everyone has a “lid” on their leadership and that lid is determined by your leadership abilities.
So, you may want to be the best Master ever, lead your lodge to become the best and have other officers that are the best, but you will not be able to accomplish these things if you do not work to raise your leadership lid.
Your lodge’s success will not rise above your level of effectiveness as a leader. You will not attract other officers who have greater abilities than you. So it is extremely important that as a new positional leader you spend some time honestly determining what you are good at and what you are not.
To help you assess your “leadership reality,” we’re going to suggest you have a serious talk with yourself and answer some questions in two key areas; Leadership Attitude, and Leadership Qualities. Let’s start with your attitude.
Attitude: – Your attitude about your title and your leadership will determine if people will follow you. Ask yourself these questions:
- Why do I want to be a leader? – What do I expect to accomplish? Am I doing it for the title and the recognition that comes with it, or do I believe I have abilities that will help improve my lodge? Write down five reasons you want to be a leader.
- Do I possess the desire to learn more about leadership and become a better leader? – Have I recognized that the title that was given to me doesn’t make me instantly smart? Am I willing to devise a plan that will help make me a better leader? Find five resources about leadership such as books, websites, DVDs, audio CDs, that you can use to begin to study leadership. Set aside a time each day, pick a spot where you won’t be distracted or disturbed and begin a routine of leadership study.
- Am I willing to be mentored? – Even the most successful leaders have mentors. Think of 5 Masonic leaders whom you admire, talk with them and ask one or even two to be your mentor.
Qualities – There are many qualities a leader should possess. Here are seven that are extremely important. Do you possess these qualities? Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 just how well you display these characteristics as a leader.
- Character – your character determines who you are, how you act and a solid character builds trust with your followers. We are Masons, so as leaders our actions should reflect our Masonic values. Are all your actions as a leader consistent with our values?
- Self Discipline – You need to ask, “Am I first willing to lead myself by building a plan of leadership self-improvement and follow it.” Leaders are continual learners. If you do not have a plan for improvement as a leader, you probably will stay as a Level one leader.
- Commitment – People do not follow uncommitted leaders. Are you committed to carrying out the responsibilities that come with your title? If you are not, you probably won’t improve as a leader. Take a hard look at your responsibilities and ask yourself “Am I willing to make some sacrifices to carry out my responsibilities?”
- Servanthood – Leaders should first be servants. Do you love to serve others or do you expect to be served? Positional leaders think everyone is to serve them. Rate yourself by asking, “Am I willing to help my lodge and others succeed and not ask for or receive any credit?”
- Relationships – One of the most important tasks of a leader is to build positive relationships with his team members and followers. Relationships build trust and will increase your influence as a leader. You must love people to be a leader. Ask yourself, “Do I love people and am I building positive relationships?”
- Communication – Effective leaders are effective communicators. Assess your abilities of writing, speaking, and most importantly listening. Your ability to effectively communicate will help in building relationships with your officers and the members of the lodge. Rate your communication skills.
- Vision – The ability to cast and communicate a positive outlook for the future of your lodge will help create momentum and establish that you understand that a leader is more than a title. John Maxwell says, “A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” Ask yourself “Have I a vision for myself and my lodge and am I willing to pursue it with passion.” Give yourself a rating.
After you have answered the questions about your attitude and rated yourself on the qualities you possess, you will have a beginning point from which you can start to build your leadership abilities and continue to grow as a leader.
Remember these important points:
- Your title alone will not make you an effective leader. You will need much more than that.
- You need to assess your current leadership attitude and abilities. What is your leadership “reality?”
- The first person to lead is you. You need a plan to improve on your strengths and find others to support you in areas you are weak.
- Focusing on People and not Position will ultimately bring you success as a leader.
Making yourself known as a Masonic Leader goes well beyond your title and the awards on your chest.