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In Memoriam

Leadership Notes
by S.K. Lane Pierce
If you want to join the
York Rite
Leadership Training Program,
send an email to YRL@YorkRiteLeadership.org

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The York Rite Leadership Training Program is free of charge to the participant. The York Rite provides all training materials and the Instructors. Transportation, lodging, meals, and conference registration are the responsibility of the participant. You do not have to be a member of the York Rite to participate.
Contact S. Lane Pierce, Program Administrator, at yrl@yorkriteleadership.org


February 2020 - Making Good Men Better

An open letter to the fraternity by S. Lane Pierce.
There is a secret in our fraternity. It is something we continue to shout to the public yet many of us have not even considered the words we are saying. How do we make good men better?
Consider this… if you could attract the right men into your Blue Lodge, you would have full tables at dinner. Your lodge meetings would include engaged civil discussion that excites the mind and body to the building of a legacy for you, your lodge, your state, and your country. You would have a positive recognition when walking about in your community. You would experience personal growth and improvement just because of your association, and enlightened dialog, with other great thinkers in your Lodge.
Because these men are the kind of men that are seeking to become more than what they are, they will move on to join the Chapter to finish the Masonic Journey they have begun. They will, in due time, want to understand the origination and preservation of Freemasonry through the Cryptic Degrees. Those who are men of Christ must then step into the path that He walked for us and learn how their christen nature manifests the goodness of life for all those who seek to learn and exhibit His teachings.
My Brother, that secret is in how we make good men better.
Freemasonry is so much more that what has ever been written of it. Freemasonry is not a thing that can be described. Much like the Great Architect of the Universe, Freemasonry is an experience. It is an experience to be sought. It is an experience to be continually had day to day.
A principle aspect of that experience is in leadership and leadership is the answer to the question; "how do we make good men better".
A leader is one who has the ability to create. They do so through their own self-control and dedication to an ideal outcome, and they have the determination and hardiness to see all circumstances through to achievement. Leaders capture the hearts and minds of others and inspire them into action for the benefit of the greater good. Leaders are content to set their ego aside and follow another leader when it benefits the outcome; and leaders will step boldly to the front to provide direction and action when needed.
Freemasonry is the perfect crucible for a man to improve himself and become the leader for good that he is meant to be. Freemasonry creates opportunities for a man to be humble, be in service to his fellow man, and to be a leader. I suggest to you that Freemasonry has been perfectly structured for you to learn to be a leader. From the moment you asked to be admitted to the mysteries of the craft, you have been setup with opportunities to learn and hone your skills as a leader. The question now is, what are you going to do?
Brother, would you agree with me that there is not a single problem in our fraternity that cannot be solved with effective leadership?
I want to let you in on another of our not-so-secret secrets. Your York Rite has created and made available to you a well-structured, executive-class leadership training program. This program is not meant to replace your training in how to run a meeting according to the laws of our respective bodies. It is an overlay that gives you the necessary information to become an effective administrator of your organization while executing on the business at hand.
The York Rite Leadership Program (YRLP) started with one class created and taught by SK John Palmer, PGM-TN and has since grown to 3 classes taught by 6 different instructors at each of the 8 Department Conference held across the United States. The YRLP has been in existence for 10 years now and has graduated about 400 people from the program. These graduates are charged with going back into their several organizations to lead and share with others what they have learned.
The first-year students learn about their own leadership style and skills, and how to improve upon them. The second-year student is exposed to how group dynamics work and how to set the vision for the organization that motivate groups into action. The third-year student learns influential and motivational communication skills so they can put their leadership plans into action.
This program is open to all members of the York Rite family, including the ladies, DeMolay and Rainbow.
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March 2020 - Purpose

Organizations that know who they are, and have a defined mission and vision, perform better than those that don't. It is not enough to just do 'stuff'. What is done must be done for a purpose with each person understanding how they contribute.
By now you have seen the announcement from SK Jeff Nelson, our Grand Master, that the Grand Encampment has published a Mission and Vision. Your elected officers spent weeks preparing for a very intensive two-day workshop to define and hone the mission and vision of the Grand Encampment. More importantly, you need to know that the mission of the Grand Encampment is their covenant to you and to the world. It defines the lighthouse which guides the decisions and activities the Grand Encampment undertakes now, and perhaps for the next 100+ years.
The Grand Encampment's Mission is, "Providing every Christian Freemason the opportunity to extend his Masonic journey through the chivalric experience."
While it may seem an obvious statement of what the Grand Encampment should do, this mission is well-crafted to provide guidance for generations on what the Grand Encampment must do.
Thinking about your Commandery now… Does your Commandery know who they are? Do they know their purpose? Is there a vision of achievement that your leaders are pursuing? If you cannot answer in the affirmative for each of these questions, now is the time to gather the officers and come to a consensus. Your Commandery needs to know who they are and where they are going. This creates purpose, and from that you will create activities that fulfill the purpose.
To get started on defining the mission-purpose of your Commandery, let's presuppose we all start from the same root… a social identity if you will. We are all Freemasons and, as Knights Templar, I think we have something special we can start with. Borrowing from John Palmer's original Leadership 101 class… to be a Knight Templar is to be a Gentleman. You, Sir Knight, are expected to uphold yourself as a gentleman and to act gentlemanly in all your deeds. Civil discourse, fairness, and critical thinking are all hallmarks of a Knight Templar. This will be the first steppingstone in creating your Commandery's purpose.
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April 2020 - Focus

Last month we talked about the importance of having a purpose for your Commandery. When the purpose is clearly defined and it is desirable by the members, it creates activity. The result is a more active Commandery. Not just more active meetings but more activity in general and this must lead to greater interest, additional members, and satisfaction among the Sir Knights.
This month let's talk about one of the greatest challenges to the Freemason with respect to Masonic activities - Focus.
Masonry is such a vast entity that it can draw a man in many different directions simultaneously. Because being of service is a priority for many, it is a typical characteristic of a Mason to stretch his cable tow a bit thin. One of the characteristics of a great leader is to have a clear understanding as to the length of his own cable tow and to be willing to say "no" or "not now" when the situation dictates.
You have 86,400 seconds available to you each day and your body has a certain amount of energy you can devote to tasks. In order to achieve something, you must spend your time and energy. If you diffuse your energy across time, you may get a small amount accomplished in many different areas or, if you concentrate your energy into one or two areas for the same time span, you can accomplish more.
Think of a 100-watt light bulb. In a large dark room, that bulb will cast small amounts of light all over the room so no one area of the room is lit very well. If you were to concentrate that light into a laser beam and focus it into any part of the room, you would be putting maximum energy into just one spot in the room and it will be quite well lit! Life works much the same way.
Decide how much focus you need to apply to the accomplishment of your mission as a Freemason and be willing to check your own cable tow to see if you have the time and energy to take on a new task or, perhaps you should tighten the focus a bit.
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May 2020 - Interest Leads to Inspiration
When was the last time you were inspired to undertake a mission or project in your Lodge, Chapter, Council, or Commandery?
Can you remember a specific time?
What was it that inspired you to step up and take action?
What was it that you wanted to experience because of the work you were going to undertake?
As you think about it, you will find that you were inspired to do what you did because it met some interest or desire inside of you. Perhaps it was to gain the recognition and appreciation of your brethren. Perhaps it was the self-satisfaction of seeing your work improve the building you love. Maybe it was because you wanted the community to see how Masons create harmony in society.
We do what we do because there is something to gain from it.
A great leader does not dictate how an organization will run. It is a fruitless effort to tell your brother to "do this" or "do that," because people need an understanding and frame-of-reference for how and when they apply their energy. A great leader will allow the unfolding of good Masonic activity because it is aligned with the intention or desire of the members.
The first thing to remember as an excellent leader is that everyone has an ego. We all do what we do because of the "WIIFM" (What's In It For Me?) program run by our ego. I am not saying that no one participates in selfless service. Many people do and, selfless service is often a hallmark of a Mason. The problem with selfless service is that the energy is always directed outward, and after time, one becomes drained of their energy and burnout ensues. One cannot give from an empty cup! Think of all those past masters that you have not seen since they installed their successor.
The ego's needs must be addressed for each individual in order for them to continue to give their energy and time. What they are looking for in the WIIFM are things that meet their interest and inspire them.
This month I challenge you, as a leader, to discover the interests of your members and provide them with the sustenance that satisfies those interests. When the member's interest is addressed it will spark a renewed passion for the craft and the members will, of their own volition, begin to engage. This leads to inspired activity and Masonic goodwill. Dedicate your interest to the interests of your Brother. Truly endeavor to seek happiness and share that happiness with each other.


June 2020 - Engagement

A key topic in today's business climate is the notion of employee engagement. It is so important that many businesses have a human resources associated group whose purpose is employee engagement, and they measure it using
something called a Net Promoter Score (NPS). Businesses everywhere are seeking an edge in their marketspace by creating ways to engage employees at all levels through benefit plans and targeted communications. Of these two, targeted com- munications is the newest method of increasing employee engagement.
The importance of employee engagement is critical to a business, because en- gaged employees create massive improvement in the financial condition of the com- pany, and they do so out of their own volition and extra effort. Engaged employees, simply put, will contribute additional time and energy to the benefit of their com- pany. They do so because they feel that they understand the company mission, they buy in to that mission, and they understand their role in achieving it. Most impor- tantly, engaged employees feel valued. Engaged employees see themselves as an integral part of the company.
Your Commandery is your company, even more so if you are an elected officer of that Commandery. If you build strategies to engage your members, you will find that your attendance and participation will increase.
Strategy One - Communication: How are you communicating with your members? Internet services and social media provide an abundance of tools. You can create a private Facebook group for your Lodge members and even post events like meetings, practices, and study times. GroupMe is an excellent device-to-device communication tool that works across multiple platforms like computers and various phones. Google has file sharing, shared calendars, group email capabilities, and even video conferenc- ing. Most of this is free, so the cost is right for any Lodge or Commandery.
Strategy Two - Group Identity and Mission: Do you have a mission statement for your Commandery? Is it less than twenty words? Is it meaningful to the members? Have they bought in to it? When you can help each member understand their contri- bution to the mission, you will dramatically improve their participation.
Strategy Three - Vision: Now, and several months before each election, is when you should sit down with the team and draft the vision for the Commandery for the year. What do you want to accomplish by what date? What do you want to achieve by the end of the year?.
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July 2020 - Commitment and Abilty to Serve

To serve the tenants and ideals of Freemasonry is a noble and rewarding undertaking and worthy of a man's time and energy. It perpetuates goodwill and promotes happiness among men which ultimately leads to personal satisfaction. On a personal level, one has the opportunity to exercise his leadership skills and to learn how to create something bigger and more worldly than he can create on his own.
Being elected into an office of your Masonic organization is not only a testament to your knowledge of the work, it is also an acknowledgement of your leadership abilities. Remember that as an officer, you are obligated with the fiduciary responsibility for your organization. You have a legal and ethical responsibility to attend to the business of your Lodge. When I say business, I am referring to the fiscal and legal duties of your office in running your organization; things like filing IRS forms, maintaining good financial records, paying bills, maintaining your building, etc.
Each man who makes himself available to be a candidate for a Masonic office must make sure that he can devote the necessary time, not only to the performance of the duties of the office but also to improving the office and its usefulness to our craft so that the light of Freemasonry shines brighter in the world. At no time should a man ever ascend to a Masonic office just because it is "his turn." More importantly, it would be good Masonic behavior for a man to turn down a request for him to take on a responsibility to which he knows he will not be able to devote the necessary time and energy.
It is vitally important that each officer candidate agree to take an office only if he can commit to fulfilling the duties associated with that office. During the installation ceremonies, each elected officer is charged that he will faithfully fulfill the duties of his office; therefore, an officer bearing false witness to that charge is in violation of his Masonic obligation. For this reason, we must consider our family and work obligations before agreeing to be installed in an office.
There is nothing more important for the vitality of your Lodge than having its officers attend to the business of the Lodge in a professional and Masonic manner. Only when each man is executing the functions of his office and practicing leadership principles can Masonry continue and thrive. To do otherwise will be to destroy a legacy of Masonic history.
Choose your officers wisely, and if chosen, commit to executing the duties of your office to the benefit of the craft..
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August 2020 - Respect

To serve the tenants and ideals of Freemasonry is a noble and rewarding undertaking and worthy of a man's time and energy. It perpetuates good will and promotes happiness among men, which ultimately leads to personal satisfaction. On a personal level, one has the opportunity to exercise his leadership skills and to learn how to create something bigger and more worldly than he can create on his own.
Being elected to an office of your Masonic organization is not only a testament to your knowledge of the work, it is also an acknowledgement of your leadership abilities. Remember that as an officer, you are obligated with the fiduciary responsibility for your organization. You have a legal and ethical responsibility to attend to the business of your Lodge. When I say business, I am referring to the fiscal and legal duties of your office in running your organization; things like filing IRS forms, maintaining good financial records, paying bills, and maintaining your building.
Each man who makes himself available to be a candidate for a Masonic office must make sure that he can devote the necessary time, not only to the performance of the duties of the office but also to improving the office and its usefulness to our craft so that the light of Freemasonry shines brighter in the world. At no time should a man ever as- cend to a Masonic office just because it is "his turn." More importantly, it would be good Masonic behavior for a man to turn down a request for him to take on a responsibility to which he knows he will not be able to devote the necessary time and energy.
It is vitally important that each officer candidate agree to take an office only if he can commit to fulfilling the duties associated with that office. During the installation ceremonies, each elected officer is charged that he will faithfully fulfill the duties of his office; therefore, an officer bearing false witness to that charge is in violation of his Masonic obligation. For this reason, we must consider our family and work obligations before agreeing to be installed in an office.
There is nothing more important for the vitality of your Lodge than having its officers attend to the business of the Lodge in a professional and Masonic manner. Only when each man is executing the functions of his office and practicing leadership principles can Masonry continue and thrive. To do otherwise will be to destroy a legacy of Masonic history.
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September - Perptuating a Legacy


What would it mean to lose a legacy? Perhaps with good stewardship, we will never need to answer that question.
Stewardship is the responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving. A heritage plant, a family tradition, money, and a home depend on good stewardship in order to continue to exist and to thrive. Our fraternity is no different. Our behavior becomes the public perception of our fraternity, and our governance determines the health of our fraternity and our ability to do good works. It is incumbent on each Mason to be a good steward of our fraternity
through his behavior and actions.
Leadership is the ability to lead. Leadership, combined with a charitable intent, creates that best quality of stewardship that Masons represent. Good stewardship without leadership will at best maintain stasis within the organization. Leadership is the defining component that determines if the organization dies or flourishes.
This author believes that to be a Mason is to be a leader. We take good men and make them better by teaching them how to be effective leaders of themselves, their families, their businesses, and their Lodges.
The best part of leadership is that it is a learnable skill. Anyone can begin where they are on the journey to becoming a leader. Through honest self-assessment and the practice of leadership principles and skills, you can make the difference in the stewardship of your organization.
So, interestingly enough, neither of my daughters have a piece of that Angel Wing Begonia—yet. At some point soon, it will become important to my wife that she inspire our daughters to carry on this legacy
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October - Prioritizing To Get Things Done

Each of us have our own character flaws. As Masons, we look to our brethren for identification, counsel, and assistance in resolving the flaws and improving ourselves. As a group, Masons generally share many common traits and our one common character flaw - our recalcitrance to saying "No" to a request. As the old saying goes, "if you want to get something done, ask a busy person to do it."
Masons tend to be busy people. The symbol of the beehive teaches us to be busy and industrious, so our actions are productive for ourselves and others. Because of this, we often get requests for assistance, or we seek out ways to be of service. As a result, we tend to end up double and triple booking our calendars and perhaps run late in meeting deadlines. I chose this topic because this very morning, John Palmer, the editor of the Knight Tem- plar magazine, emailed me and said, "Are you going to submit an article this month?" I thought I had. I had lost track of the schedule. With the many things I have committed myself to doing, I let this important duty slip my mind until it became absolutely urgent that I get it done.
One of the challenges a leader experiences, especially a Masonic leader, is prioritizing his time. To assist you in prioritizing your tasks and to remind myself of the importance of doing so, I introduce you to Covey quadrants. This simple and effective tool will help you prioritize your days, weeks, months, and years. An effective leader will spend the major- ity of his time doing the important things before they become urgent.
Get out a clean sheet of paper and divide it into four sections or quadrants. Label the top row "Important" and the bottom row "not important." Now label the left column "urgent" and the right column "not urgent" You can now map out your activities and focus your energy where you need to get things done.
Quadrant one (top-left) is "urgent-important." This is the stuff you must do right now. It is Firefighting and can lead to burnout.
Quadrant two (top-right) is "not urgent-important." This is quality time, the green zone, and where you are personally and professionally effective. Working on activities in this quadrant is working smart. This is where you strive to spend most of your day. Be aware though, if you fail to give these activities their due attention, they will creep over to quadrant one.
Quadrant three (bottom-left) is "urgent-not important." It is also known as the distraction zone. This may be meetings, phone calls, and even things you prefer to do over what you need to be focused on.
Quadrant four (bottom-right) is the bane of the leader. It is called "wasting time." Things in this zone are neither urgent nor Important and do not deserve your time.
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