Leadership and Freemasonry

At a conference I recently attended, there was a presentation on leadership. However, the presenter only provided the desirable characteristics of a leader as: trust, communication, self-awareness, empathy & self respect, gratitude, vision, and courage but these do not describe what a leader actually does or does not do.

The word ‘lead’ is a verb that means ‘control’, and the word ‘leader’ describes the person who leads or controls.

Consequently, a leader, whether they lead a donkey on a tether or a group of people who have a definitive objective must have some background or experience in controlling donkeys or have a background or experience regarding the particular definitive objective.

Being a Professional Engineer for 35 years, I developed a list of five essential elements of a leader so that I could ensure that I was on track myself, as follows:

1 Know where you are going.
2 Check your progress regularly.
3 Ensure the right people are in the right positions.
4 Personally train your subordinates.
5 Find your replacement.

​Reviewing each one of these points in turn, we need to know where we are going if we are to lead people, whether it is to a geographical destination or teaching people to complete a particular definitive objective.

Without checking the progress, one may never reach the destination or complete the objective.

Progress may be checked various ways: miles walked, time to complete various stages, games won, weight lifted, percent correct on a quiz, dollars spent, etc.

Ensuring the right people are in the right positions. The right person in a position that they are suited for results in a productive scenario.

It is essential to deal with the actively disengaged individual, they tend to cause strife with their peers and sabotage projects.

One cannot be a leader if one does not know anything about the particular definitive objective. If one does not know what a widget looks like then one cannot tell someone how to make one.

It seems that today there are far too many managers who have no idea how to train their subordinates. The success of the apprenticeship system results from those who know teaching those who do not know.

Finding your replacement is essential for continuity. Steps 3. and 4. should provide sufficient and well-trained individuals to become your replacement.

Remember the chief executive officer of 80% of great organizations were promoted from within the organization. White knights only happen in fairy tales.

Non subject matter experts are not great leaders. There have been many examples of disasters when the non subject matter experts made inappropriate decisions, such as NASA’s Space Shuttle Challenger O ring decision, 7 dead; Walkerton Ontario water crisis, 7 dead, 2300 sick; the Titanic, 1500 dead; the Charge of the Light Brigade, 110 dead 160 wounded 375 horses lost; etc.

The whole point of Freemasonry apart from the fraternal social aspects is to train men to have a better demeanor, to be better public speakers, to be able to run a formal private or public meeting, to be able to train others in the same.

This is accomplished by participating in the Lodge Work, learning the Work, learning the scenarios when and where to stand, walk, turn, and talk, presenting the lectures, organizing the Work, and being able to teach the junior brethren the same by being an accomplished Freemason.

Every position in Lodge provides a lesson to be learnt: Stewards making the candidate feel comfortable and assured, the Tyler and Inner Guard by being attentive and speaking boldly, Deacons learning people’s names and the scenarios of the floor work, the Junior Warden looking after the brethren at refreshment, and the Senior Warden ensuring the Lodge is ready for the meeting and investigating and vouching for visitors.

The specialised members are the Chaplain, Organist, Secretary, Treasurer, and Registrar. Serving as the Chaplain should result in a member being comfortable when called upon to offer a prayer at a wedding, a christening party, or a thanks giving meal.

Being a Secretary or Registrar, one should be able to improve one’s writing skills at very minimum.

While being the Treasurer one should learn about income and expenditure statements and balance sheets, good for reading the financial statements of public corporations.

All of which trains a member to be the Master of a Lodge, the Leadership role, the one who controls the Lodge, and provides instruction to the new member.

Three Great Masonic Leaders of the Past

Left: Winston Churchill 1874 – 1956
Right Top: Barnardo O’Higgins 1776 – 1842
Right Lower: Horatio Nelson 1758 – 1805
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Note: While it is acknowledged that there is no documented proof that Horatio Nelson was a Freemason. John Webb’s ‘Horatio, Admiral Lord Nelson Was he a Mason?’, seems to have confined his researches to Lodges under the English Registers.

However, the author lived in the Caribbean during the late 1970s for a little under a year, attended a number of Masonic Lodges and became acquainted with a number of Freemasons.

It was their contention that Horatio Nelson was made a mason on board a ship-of-the-line in English Harbour, Antigua. Moderns and Ancients Lodges as well as Irish Lodges including at least one Irish military Lodge and one Scottish Lodge were well established in the Caribbean at that time.

‘Albion Lodge 196 E.R. A History 1790 to 1976’, N. G. D. Atwell, Cot Printery Ltd., Barbados, 1976.

Consequently, until further in-depth research is carried out, the only knowledge that exists of Horatio Nelson being a Freemason relies on the Masonic lore of our brethren in the Caribbean.

Note: Winston Churchill was a freemason between 1091 – 1912.  He had resigned many years before being elected Prime Minister

Further reading:

Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy, Isadore Sharp, Penguin Group, 2009

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, Michael Lewis, W. W. Norton & Company, 2004

Good to Great, Jim Collins, Harper Collins Publishers Inc., 2001

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/lead   lead verb (CONTROL)

SQ Leadership & Personal Development Books

Selected Books on Leadership and Personal Development available at Amazon


Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy

By: Isadore Sharp

How did a child of immigrants, starting with no background in the hotel business, create the world’s most admired and successful hotel brand? And how has Four Seasons grown so dramatically, over nearly half a century, without losing its focus on exceptional quality and unparalleled service?
Isadore Sharp answers these questions in his inspiring memoir. He started out in Toronto, the son of a modest builder from Poland, but ambition and fate rapidly took him beyond his father’s three-man construction business.
Sharp learned the hotel business by trial and error. His breakthrough was a vision for a new kind of hotel, featuring superior design, top-quality amenities, and, above all, a deep commitment to service. Today, Four Seasons is widely recognized as the world leader in comfort and luxury—in fact, it sets the standard by which every luxury hotel is measured.


Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

By: Michael Lewis

“This delightfully written, lesson-laden book deserves a place of its own in the Baseball Hall of Fame.” ―Forbes
Moneyball is a quest for the secret of success in baseball. In a narrative full of fabulous characters and brilliant excursions into the unexpected, Michael Lewis follows the low-budget Oakland A’s, visionary general manager Billy Beane, and the strange brotherhood of amateur baseball theorists. They are all in search of new baseball knowledge―insights that will give the little guy who is willing to discard old wisdom the edge over big money.


Good to Great – Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t

By: Jim Collins

The Challenge
Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the verybeginning.
But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?
The Study
For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?
The Standards
Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world’s greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.
The Comparisons
The research team contrasted the good-to-great companies with a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to make the leap from good to great. What was different? Why did one set of companies become truly great performers while the other set remained only good?
Over five years, the team analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study. After sifting through mountains of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness — why some companies make the leap and others don’t.
The Findings
The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice. The findings include:
• Level 5 Leaders: The research team was shocked to discover the type of leadership required to achieve greatness.
• The Hedgehog Concept (Simplicity within the Three Circles): To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence.
• A Culture of Discipline: When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great results. Technology Accelerators: Good-to-great companies think differently about the role of technology.
• The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Those who launch radical change programs and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap.
“Some of the key concepts discerned in the study,” comments Jim Collins, “fly in the face of our modern business culture and will, quite frankly, upset some people.”
Perhaps, but who can afford to ignore these findings?


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