Masonic Connections Featured Writer
Brother John Loayza
Assistant Grand Chancellor
Grand Lodge Leadership Committee
Grand Lodge of Illinois, A.F. & A.M.
John Loayza, Assistant Grand Chancellor
Grand Lodge of Illinois, A.F. & A.M.
Lodge officer responsibilities include the assurance of continuous growth and sustainability of our lodges through various means. Although there are many other goals comprising a lodge business plan, everything depends on advancing the good of the Craft with an enthusiastic, sustainable, and committed membership growth. In this modern era, this becomes a challenge in the ever increasing demands on our time. I.E., we need to look for innovative means to make Masonry interesting and motivational with all members but especially with the younger/future generations of brethren their families, and communities. Ergo, we need to look for modern methods or recruitment tools that will better service the needs of our highly technological society with more family oriented and social programs, besides the philosophical and ritual aspects of Masonry. This will require a true balance of lodge officer leadership responsibilities, understanding of our members and our communities, in order to develop a new type of Renaissance Mason. We need to look at a different aspect of responsibility not only within our lodges or to our members but also an outreach to and for our communities. Unfortunately, many lodges/lodge officers look inwardly but not outwardly and that needs to be corrected. Some of the corrective actions that need to be taken include:
Focusing On Long Term Objectives-With any unsuccessful event or action preventing the completion of an objective should be considered as only a temporary set back. What is important is to learn from any event or action concerning those necessary lessons and changes that need to be made, in order to reach the long term objective. This is simply a process of self analysis that will help to reach the ultimate goal.
Learning From Feelings-Lodge officers need to pay close attention to their feelings regarding anything they do, accomplish or fail at. Feelings are natural human emotions but as lodge officers, we need to ask ourselves what those feelings are telling us and what lessons those feelings are trying to convey.
Discomforting Activities/Events Equal Growth-When lodge officers become so comfortable in what they are doing, they can become stagnant. Some local lodge officers have difficulty and tend to be complacent if they are only in a comfort zone. However, they can grow much faster, progress more, and evolve in zones of discomfort because they are being challenged to resolve issues and welcome more responsibilities.
Broadening Views Of Courage-Being vulnerable, open, and receptive to positive changes can be a form of courage. Although some hard charging lodge officers interpret courage as being fearless, this is not really correct, because courage is being fearful. As long as local lodge officers keep moving forward in a positive manner with more responsibilities, even being fearful adds to lodge officer courage doing its job.
Don’t Be Oblivious To Yourself-Local lodge officers remaining loyal to their own ignorance or stubbornness will always be costly. Self analysis, whether done as a lodge or as an individual
lodge officer, along with discovery, can be a painful process. Nevertheless, it’s more painful in the long term if the local lodge officer is incapable of acknowledging, assimilating or shoring up his own shortcomings. Therefore, we should always try to become more self aware of ourselves and our lodges.
Being Our Own Project-General behavior studies of business or other organization leaders indicate that those who lead projects are often better than they lead themselves. We need to consider or analyze what it takes to lead an important project. Thus, we start by determining the desired outcomes. Then, we establish a timetable and identify critical milestones. Afterwards, we gather the necessary resources that the project needs to be successful, and to identify the critical metrics to track the progress.
Staying Present-Rather than trying to avoid all that surfaces during and after a humiliating or even a successful event, lodge officer responsibilities include immersing themselves in the experience. It’s necessary to identify the officer and lodge feelings that come up with the fears that are at work. Additionally, it’s necessary to identify how the feelings and fears serve once the experience/event plays out. Then the lodge officers can determine what they learned and how to put those lessons to future use.
Even though those lodge officer responsibilities of self discovery could be painful, they are also very rewarding. It’s how every lodge leader becomes a whole person, knowing the dimensions of his own talents, idiosyncrasies, and deepest desires.
The above process can become a richer, fuller, and more complete understanding of a lodge leader and human being. Thus, armed with that knowledge, local lodge officers are better able to use their strengths to serve their lodges, communities, and others, as they increase with their own lodge responsibilities.
As the world becomes more and more technically connected, and as information sharing becomes more rapid, we begin to see our world from a different perspective than our predecessors. Furthermore, this process has been true throughout history. It is a process of progress in our lives, in our work, and in all organizations. Thus, we need to bridge the gaps between what and how we did things years ago, to what is needed today, and more especially for the future. Recognizing, learning new leadership skills, and implementing progressive changes will ultimately help to prepare our lodge officers to manage their lodges, and to ultimately become better lodge leaders. The following leadership lessons are important to understand:
1-LEADERS LISTEN: Successful lodge leaders recognize that success is ultimately a team effort. Good lodge leaders will admit what they don’t know, and it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for help. No lodge leader can have a successful lodge by doing things himself but he can destroy his lodge by not listening to any good advice from the brethren he leads. Therefore, listening and not just hearing others is essential.
Yet, good lodge leaders need to be very careful because some advice may not be as appropriate today as it once was many years ago. This is why lodges need to begin a good local management/leadership program to train future lodge officers as they begin going through the lines. Lodge officers being confident that they can make a difference is fine but doing it effectively is more important. They all need to listen more carefully in whatever organization they are in, and to surround themselves with those brethren who will challenge them and tell them when and why they are wrong. Lodge officers need to make that special effort to listen closely to their team (past or current lodge officers, and to their members in general). Moreover, the need to listen doesn’t diminish when a lodge officer becomes a Worshipful Master, it actually increases.
2-LEADERS CARE: Unfortunately, we still have many local lodge leaders who haven’t quite made it into the 21st Century. Some of them still cling to the ways that things were done too many years ago. Thus, there can be considerable differences of expectations between the younger generations who join our lodges and are confronted with lodge officers who don’t have interesting programs for their members and their families. Soon those younger members drift away from their lodges.
Pro-active lodge leaders have certain written or unwritten responsibilities to help change the relationship and the reputation that our lodges have with society. However, this is easier done in some countries but not all. Where do we start this process? Actually, it begins with our lodge members. Newer lodge officers and some older lodge officers will undoubtedly make mistakes. How the other lodge officers deal with those mistakes will actually determine how they will be judged by their fellow lodge officers and members. No matter if a lodge officer is elected or
appointed, nobody wins unless the members say or think that they win. Ergo, lodge leaders have to take a macro approach to everything and care about member wants and desires, not just their own as a local lodge official.
3-LEADERS INSPIRE: A lodge’s success depends on how well it’s satisfying its members. However, changing the world goes beyond a lodge serving its members because it’s also about serving society. Therefore, a visionary lodge leader needs to be thinking and planning about more than the next position he occupies in lodge. He needs to be thinking about the future and what his lodge’s reputation and place in the world will be, whether it’s 5, 10 or more years from today.
More and more of our members desire to be connected to a broader purpose, and a higher calling. I.E., they want their lodges to make the world a better place. We can and should do both. How can this be accomplished? It’s up to our local lodge leaders to set the tone, create the visions, and to inspire the methods that motivate our lodges to serve our society in a better way. As lodge leaders, we have an obligation to act responsibly, because our actions will have a long term future effect on the generations of brethren that come after us. Furthermore, the inspirational methods will empower and contribute to others in reaching their full potential.
Inspirational lodge leaders understand that our lodges are all about people first. The only way we can build genuinely successful lodges is to build lasting relationships both inside and outside our lodges. This is accomplished by holding ourselves accountable, by doing what we say we are going to do, and by inspiring others to strive for something bigger than themselves.
4-LEADERS WORK: Progressive lodge leaders who want to change the world in a positive manner need more than talent. They also need to do the work, because hard work and dedication beats talent, especially if talent doesn’t work hard enough. Nothing progressive happens in a lodge unless the lodge officers work hard to achieve it. Therefore, there’s really no substitute for hard or dedicated work.
Although lodge education/learning will open many doors, and talent will open new worlds, it’s really hard and dedicated work that empowers lodge officers to achieve more than they could ever imagine. Thus, we live in a dynamic time when technology is changing our lives even more profoundly and rapidly than in the past. This is truly a world of unbounded opportunity for our lodge officers and lodges to become more successful.
Brethren, if we learn and practice good leadership lessons and skills, Masonry will continue to grow stronger in the future. However, the future is in your hands. What will you do with it?