Saturday, February 25, 2012

Leadership In Freemasonry - A Complicated Problem

For those that don't I am currently getting caught up on all of my military education that I missed during my marathon deployments. During this time as an officer I have to learn many different types of leadership styles, models etc. As I do this, I can't help to think about how this effects me and my lodge and everything we do. I notice that rarely do officer of a lodge or even a master think about such things. While we do have Warden Retreats in Texas, they seem much more pragmatic and teach the 3 top officers more how to handle common "Masonic" situations.

What I want to discuss here is more of the culture of leadership that Freemasonry should be adopting, and what it currently is adopting my from my humble view and little experience. First for those of you that aren't familiar with the concept of Full Range Leadership Model (FRLM), a graphic representation of this concept is shown below (courtesy of Michael Murray and Associates Pty Ltd - Australia):

If you look at the model most lodges and I would say Freemasonry overall has not moved much past the Laissez-Faire/Transactional portion of the model, and rarely to the Transformational portion here are some examples of what I have witnessed:

Laissez-Faire(LF) Hands-Off Leadership: The WM and the Wardens do very little during their time in a leadership position, lets the Past Masters run the show, waiting to move onto the next chair.

Management by Exception (MBE) Passive: The WM and the Wardens will only deal with issues as they arise (usually by a Past Master), are constantly putting out fires, instead of understanding the cause of the fires.

Management by Exception (MBE) Active: This is where the WM the Wardens will organize degree practices, ensure members are properly instructed and monitor performance and give corrections as needed. This also true in monitoring the performances of the deacons and the stewards, correcting as necessary.

Contingent Reward: This is used all the time in Freemasonry, honors, advancement in degrees, invitations into invitational only societies, Golden Trowel Award, etc. It's the "carrot-and-stick approach". While sometimes in Freemasonry it is clearly outlined "If you pass your catechism for your first degree, you will advance to the second". Other times it is inferred or the standard is in the mind of the individual trying to obtain it.

The third portion of the model is the Transformational, also known as the 5Is, illustrated below (provided by Transformational Leadership Coaching and Consulting, LLC):

The 5Is as these happen every day in Freemasonry as well, here are some examples:

Individual Consideration - Caring

Intellectual Stimulation - Thinking

Inspirational Motivation - Charming

Idealized Influence - Influencing

Now, I am sure that others reading this like myself have experienced men who have provided the above to you during your Masonic journey, we need to strive to be those men all the time. I didn't use examples up there, because I would hope that they are a little bit more self explanatory than the Transactional and Laissez-Faire methods.

So how do we try to build a Fraternity to be more Transformational and less Transactional? I have no magic answer, but after all of the readings and leadership methods one that did stand out as a possibility was the concept of Servant Leadership. Honestly I haven't heard of this concept until six weeks ago, and it was given by GEN Lorenz, who isn't really what I would think of as servant leader, but that is for another post and another blog.

Robert K. Greenleaf developed the 10 characteristics that are central to the development of a servant leader:

Listening: In all business or organizations communication skills are a requirement for any type of success. According to the philosophy of servant leadership the servant leader listens actively to "subordinates" and support them in decision identification. I personally can't stand the term actively listening, because to me it's some flag officer who is trying to find a question to ask you and not really listening to what you have to say, but I think that everyone can agree that is a key component to any successful leader.

Empathy: A Servant Leader attempts to understand and empathize with others. Freemasonry at times completely fails at this as when concerns are sometimes brought up and the old line "It has always been done this way..." gets thrown around. As Freemason leaders we need to respect and appreciate our brothers personal development.

Healing: The Servant Leader has the ability to heal one's self and others. A servant leader tries to help brothers solve their problems and conflicts in relationships, the only way a brother is to grow is to help solve their conflicts in relationships. I am fully aware that in Freemasonry more so than in any business or government model this is much easier said than done, experiencing my own upsetness in treatment by my fellow brothers. We have to try, otherwise, what is the point?

Awareness: As leaders and brothers we need to have an integrated and "holistic" position. Try not to look at a situation through a narrow focus or a prism of preconceptions. This again is one of those things that seem much easier said than done, but does not negate the fact that it needs to be done.

Persuasion: This is by far the most abused in our Brotherhood. As a Servant Leader we should not take advantage of any power we are granted by our brethren. Yet almost monthly we hear rumors, see communications of brothers in powerful positions coercing compliance rather to try and convince those they manage, and ultimately serve.

Conceptualization: This is also one of those "long-pole in the tent" issues that seemingly plagues Freemasonry. WM, PM and other brothers get so wrapped up in the day-to-day realities that they can't seem to focus on the long term goals of the fraternity. Most I would almost dare say don't know what their lodges long term goals are, if they have ever been allowed to be developed. I am talking of course beyond the bumper sticker saying of "Making Good Men Better". A Servant Leader has a personal vision, and he can derive specific goals and implement his strategies to make them a reality, again another reality in Freemasonry that is difficult to achieve.

Foresight: Foresight is where a lot of younger Masons fail, as their good intentions sometimes aren't realized as an outcome of a situation. A servant leader must learn from the past of a situation, understand why it is the way it is, before going in and changing things for the sake of change and not fully understanding the current reality. War gaming a situation is far better than flying into a situation you aren't fully aware of or understand the consequences of your actions.

Stewardship: We hold Freemasonry and the brotherhood of man in trust for the greater good of society. Servant leaders covet openness and persuasion over the importance of control. This again has been a major compliant against the highest levels of some jurisdictions, as complaints have been waged that the Grand Master of State X isn't a good steward of the Fraternity.

Commitment to the growth of people: We as servant leaders of the fraternity have to see that brothers have an intrinsic value beyond paying dues or getting pushed into a line-up. We have to ensure that our brothers a growing everyday through our great fraternity. If that means a lodge sending more than just the Wardens and WM to the Annual Communication, than that is an investment the lodge should consider making. Spending money on the masonic growth of our brothers should not be off the table.

Building community: While this should be second nature to any fraternal order, we have to remember to continue to build our internal community based on our fundamental beliefs, and not a supper club, or any of the other negative terms that are sometimes used to describe our ancient order.

The biggest compliant that CEOs and other industry leaders have with the Servant Leader method is that it takes a long time to change their companies leaders perception, but for any Freemason reading this, he knows that isn't anything new.

Like I wrote earlier, this is a difficult and complex problem. I know some will write off what I wrote here as being worthless as I haven't sat in the East. I have worked with some of the most famous and powerful military leaders in our country, and while they don't employee all of the servant leadership tenants all the time, the show the right ones at the right time, and that is honestly what makes them great.

On a related note, Masonic Legend Bro Jack Buta was offering a Masonic Leadership Seminar last week, and Servant Leadership is part of his curriculum, he also offers it at the Freemasons Academy. It might be worth checking out if you want to learn more about being a leader in your Masonic community.

-Bro Vick

Friday, February 10, 2012

Red Fez Burger

For those of you in the Shrine, be the hit of your next cookout with the Red Fez burger! Here is the link for the Red Fez Burger, even though it doesn't mention whether one has to go through the hot sands, whatever that is.

-Bro Vick