WB Ed Harris
Greetings from the East!
Behave Like a Leader
Just because the Brethren of a Lodge elects the Senior Warden to be the next Worshipful Master does not mean that that promotion comes with leadership skills. So what is a leader? At its fundamental level, it is a Master who influences outcomes and brings inspiration to the Lodge. Leadership has everything to do with character and behavior. The question that I must ask myself as the Worshipful Master of Warren G. Harding Lodge is; "How do I build those positive character traits in my Brethren and inspire them to seek more Masonic Light?"
- I must earn the faith of the Brethren. The Master of the Lodge must show that he has the best interests of his Brethren in mind at all times. When the men of the Lodge sense and know this they will get behind the Masters agenda and program and give that needed extra effort. This means that there must be a relationship of trust between the Master, his officers, and the Brethren sitting on the sidelines. This trust must be earned.
- I must start small. Being seen and known as a credible person, one who earns the trust of his Lodge, will not happen because of a large, flamboyant program has been rolled out for the Masonic year. No, credibility and trust comes by the Master living up to all the small commitments that he makes to the Lodge. The Master’s word must be his bond. If I say I will do a certain task, the Brethren must know that they can count on that task to be done without question. I must be relentless about keeping my commitments.
- I must look in the mirror. If I can’t look at myself and be totally honest about my weaknesses as well as my strengths, then I can’t be the leader that my Lodge needs. On the other hand if I recognize my weakness and not try to mask them, then I am truly living my integrity and doing what I say I will do.
- 4. I must be transparent. The Master of the Lodge must be open and transparent at all times, especially when he makes mistakes. There are times in every Lodge when difficult decisions have to be made; when tensions may arise between two Brothers or a faction is born over a tough issue. It is times like these that the Master of the Lodge must first be transparent about his position on the issues and hold the tough conversation with those involved, modeling this openness with them. If I show to the Brethren my vulnerability, my doubts or questions, and not become the aloof one that seemingly has it all under control, the Brethren are all the more likely to respect the Master and the process to find a solution and work together to overcome the problem in a harmonious way. Leadership from the Master must include his being transparent with the Lodge.
- I must set the bar. It is of vital importance that the Worshipful Master gives focus and clarity about what he is trying to accomplish in his year in the East. Clear expectation must be set. As small tasks or projects succeed the Brethren will see what success looks like. This will encourage them to make those goals their own and not only trust the Master, but do what they can to now reach those goals.
- I must constantly reexamine myself. The Master of the Lodge must remember the famous words of President Harry Truman, a 33rd degree Mason, “The buck stops here.” Instead of looking to blame others, consider what you could do differently to get better results. Are the expectations not clearly set forth? Were the necessary tools, support, budget, volunteers, or time not made available? Some of these issues may be out of my control, but I can control my own actions.
- Pay attention and listen. Probably the most important skill that will make the difference in the Worshipful Master being a leader and one who just holds a chair in the East is the ability to listen to what the Brethren are saying or suggesting. I must acknowledge that I heard what the Brother is saying by affirming his idea and letting him know that it may have merit for implementing for the Lodge. At the same time asking that Brother for his leadership in pursuing that task and getting it implemented or bringing the idea to the Lodge officer’s meeting for further consideration. What is important is for that Brother to know that there will be some kind of action taken and the matter will not be dropped. Listening is about being in the moment with the Brother who is sharing his idea, thoughts, or feelings about an issue. I, as the Master of the Lodge, will lose credibility fast if there is not follow-up.
- I must involve others. Committee assignments must have the authority to act on their own within the scope of the committee tasks. It should not be the Worshipful Master’s job to follow-up on the committee tasks, but to only lend support when asked. The Brethren must know that they have the authority to reach out to each other and request that whatever the assigned task is, to follow through with it. If a deadline is fast approaching and the Brother assigned a part of the task has not completed, the members of the committee should make direct contact with him. There is no need to bring the Master into the completion of the project.
- I must be able to correct a problem. The Master of the Lodge must be able to take action when standards, the Grand Lodge constitution, Masonic Code or the Lodge By-Laws are not being met. When the Brethren of the Lodge fail to meet these standards, codes and laws, they must be addressed, and that is solely the duty of the Worshipful Master. Even if it is just my expectations that are not being addressed, the Master must be sure that they were clearly communicated and then help redirect the Brethren to meet them. This may mean simply as talking about the problem and asking the Brethren what should be done to correct it and avoid it from happening again. This will help the Lodge build a culture where the Brethren can talk candidly with each other.
A growing, healthily Lodge will have a Worshipful Master who strives to meet these nine leadership attributes. As the Master of Warren G. Harding Lodge #260, I commit to my Brethren to be this kind of leader for 2016 – 2017.
Ed Harris, Worshipful Master