Home Page
Grand Officers Dept.Commanders Dept. Conferences Knight Templar
KT State News
Commanderies Grand Recorders Holy Land Pilgrimage Eye Foundation
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

NOTES by MONTH - 2021
[ FEB ] [ MAR ] [ APR ] [MAY ] [JUN ] [JUL ] [AUG ] [SEP ]

NOTES by MONTH - 2020
[ FEB ] [ MAR ] [ APR ] [ MAY ] [ JUN ] [ JUL ] [ AUG ] [ SEP ] [ OCT ] [ NOV ] [ DEC ]

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 2021 - The York Rite Leadership Program

It has been a pleasure to write the Leadership Notes article for the past year. I hope I have imparted some nugget that you have put into practice in your Lodge, Chapter, Council, and Commandery that has improved the Masonic ex- perience for you and the brothers. In 2021, the talented Instructors of this program will be joining me in contributing to this article. It is my privilege to introduce each of them.
Harry Jenkins and Adam Hathaway are the primary Instructors for "YRL101 - Principles of Individual Leadership." Brother Hathaway is a past grand master of New Mexico. Besides being a leader in many Masonic organizations, he is also an accomplished presenter and trainer. Brother Jenkins is also from New Mexico. He is a pro- fessional trainer of those that protect our country. He brings a no-nonsense, let's get it done, attitude to his classes that inspires others to action.
The YRL101 class discusses the personal traits and qualities of a leader and of those he or she may lead. It sets the foundation for building your skills as a leader. This class will help you with assessing your current leadership skill set and abilities while teaching some principals of Leadership from Covey, Maxwell, Tracey, and oth- ers. Upon completing the class, you are expected to put into practice what you have learned to be a more effective personal leader.
Charles O'Neil and Steve Balke are the primary Instructors for "YRL201 - Group Dynamics of Leadership." Brother O'Neil is a past grand commander of Connecticut. He is vice president of client operations for a company that produces radiology soft- ware, and Brother O'Neil has a BA in education. Brother Balke is the general grand recorder of Cryptic Masons International. As the owner of Studio Balke, he provides business and technology consultation and training. Brother Balke is the principal architect behind the YRL Website.
In the YRL201 class, you will learn how groups develop social identities that lead to better outcomes. You will also learn the nuances of working with and motivating volunteer groups. Building teams and creating an atmosphere where team members desire to accomplish their objectives is a signature of well-formed leadership. It is a special skill to be an effective leader of such groups, because you must lead from a place of optimism and growth.
Then there is me, Lane Pierce. I am the developer of the third class designated "YRL401 - Influential Communications." I am a master trainer of neurolinguistic pro- gramming, an accomplished toastmaster, and your humble servant. It is my privilege to lead such a great team of talented Instructors.
The capstone of this program is YRL401. Here you will learn how the human mind processes language and how to use those processes to communicate more effective- ly and with greater influence. When you understand how people process language, you can construct your language to create the communication you desire and moti- vate your organization to being better than ever.
Over the course of this next year, we will continue to produce executive-class leadership training, be it virtual or in-person training. Each of the instructors will be contributing to this article throughout the year so that you might get a greater exposure to the team. You should also expect our online system to become more robust with automated notifications of classes and the ability to manage your own profile.
Remember my fraters, this program can only improve our fraternity if you learn and apply the knowledge. If you have sat on the sidelines and wondered how to make your meetings better and how to improve membership, maybe this program is for you.
TOP


March 2021 - Servant Leadership
This article by Sir Knight Adam Hathaway kicks off our 2021 theme about how Freemasonry takes each member on a leadership journey. When someone asks you, “How does Freemasonry make good men better?” tell them, “Freemasonry makes them leaders.”
I am sure that we have all participated in conversations circling around the question: What does it mean to be a Mason? York Rite Leadership training posits that Masonry is not only about leadership and service but, more specifically, that leadership is service, and that, in order to lead, one must first learn to serve. The concept of a leader being, above all things, a servant is known as servant leadership. The servant leader focuses on the needs and development of others. He
sees his role as as not to promote himself but rather to sacrifice that others may grow and thrive.
To assist us in our quest to serve, Freemasonry strongly promotes the governance of our lives by the practice of virtues. Though not mentioned specifically in Masonic ritual, one of my favorite medieval virtues is noblesse oblige. I once heard it mentioned that noblesse oblige is the obligation to the nobility, by an individual who, based on his rank and station, demanded that others serve him. To the stark contrary, noblesse oblige, is defined as the obligation of the nobility to the people within his sphere of influence. In other words, rank and privilege morally bind us to use our resources to seek new ways to serve, not rule.
In York Rite Leadership 101, we explore five reasons as to why some might choose a leadership position within Masonry, or perhaps other organizations.
• The first is personal material gain. In New Mexico, the candidate is admonished that he should not seek to join the institution for mercenary motives. Yet, some members seek to leverage the fraternity for their own worldly pleasures or advancement, therefore not seeking to serve others, only themselves.
• The second motivation for some is for recognition and prestige. Freemasonry,on the whole, values it leaders and heaps upon them many accolades and honors, but these should never be sought after. The servant leader focuses on sharing recognition and glory with his teammates and cares not for the acquisition of titles and attention.
* Third, some desire power as a means to promote their own way, to advance their own agenda, and to secure the last word. A servant leader does not desire power for its own sake but rather to increase his influence among others through service, respect, and loyalty.
* The desire to leave behind a legacy has two very different approaches.The first approach to developing a legacy is to hold leadership positions to ensure one’s name is remembered in perpetuity, a rather egocentric proposition. A servant leader sees his legacy in terms of those he has served and in the continued success and growth of those he has taught, mentored, and inspired.
* All of the above discourse culminates in the best and most noble reason to lead, and that is: the desire to serve.
The concept of servant leadership has existed for thousands of years, even if not described using that specific terminology. Among Christians, the greatest servant leader of all time is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave the greatest sacrifice possible, that the world might be saved. As Christians, what higher calling could there be than emulating the greatest servant leader who ever lived.
TOP


April 2021 Contributive Leadership By
Sir Knight Steve Balke, PGC, York Rite Leadership Faculty
Holding a position is not where leadership starts – every member of an organization leads. While there are many ways of including those who do not participate,our focus for this article is going to be the active and regular attendees (the previous being topics of interest to those that hold positions).
Upon our entrance, or rather as a prerequisite to entering a Lodge, we are asked if we are willing to be serviceable to our fellow creatures. The very basis of many of the morals taught in all aspects of Masonry follow this theme – servant leadership. Simply put, all activity contributed by those who earnestly seek to “best work and best agree” is indeed leading those around you. In every facet of the Masonic Family,we are given reminders through the ritual, our traditions, and the activities that are a part of our journey.
We also enter our fraternity as adults, or at the very least, those who have reached the age of reason. The natural inclination is to gravitate toward topics and efforts which allow us to utilize our experience, knowledge, and understanding to help achieve a goal or complete a project that has been decided upon by the membership. Our confidence in these areas encourages further participation while also providing an opportunity to learn from others who have similar interests or a different perspective. Leadership in these circumstances occurs by all who participate,sometimes as mentor, and sometimes as student.
After exposing an earnest dedication to the work, we may be invited to serve for a specific function. As a member of a committee that is charged to provide a set of results or complete one or more tasks, we are leading the organization by providing information. Again, this is not an office with responsibilities but rather a team effort that often requires more the ability to work with other opinions than it does the skill to complete a task.
Leadership is not a description of a position or an office, rather it is a state of being that is encouraged throughout the fraternity as a part of the lessons of Masonry. As we grow and break off the rough edges, we learn to combine our background with the principles taught through interactions with others which necessarily causes us to learn to understand their points of view. By broadening our minds, we grow; by continuing to work, we encourage others. This should neither start nor stop due to an office.
Learning how to lead yourself, your habits, your preconceptions, and your skillsets is the first step. Being able to observe, plan, communicate, and follow through are all aspects of leading yourself. This allows us all to become the example.
Learning how to effectively lead others, their interests, their goals, and their expertise is the next step. Being able to inspire, organize, communicate, and celebrate the collective accomplishments of the group are all aspects of leading others. This allows us to encourage others to become the example.
None of these things requires a position, just some dedication. If we are committed to our personal journey, the refinement of our abilities to become better as a part of a whole, and the objectives to improve all, then we will be effective as leaders.
The Masonic journey is a personal one. Each of us has an opportunity to impact the lives of those around us in a positive manner, in thought, word, and deed. Leadership could easily be described as just doing that – intentionally. It is up to us to realize that this is a skillset that Masonry provides a path for us to develop. Once we have practiced these skills over time the habits of brotherly love, relief, and truth are exposed. It all starts upon your first step.
The York Rite Leadership Program provides a structure to learn and practice proven techniques that follow the path described. Individual leadership introduces you to concepts widely accepted as a basis for personal effectiveness. Group dynamics in leadership exposes the interactivity of the several personalities and practical examples of how to encourage strengths while mitigating weaknesses. Influential Communication reinforces the ideals of continuity of thought, word, and act and creating a result through mutual understanding and innovation. We hope you will join us to work for a better experience for us all.
If you want to learn more about leadership principles, join the York Rite Leadership Training Program. Visit the website at YorkRiteLeadership.org for more information and to register for the program.
TOP


May 2021, Servant Leadership and Stewards’’ Duties in the Blue Lodge
On whatis.com Margaret Rouse wrote:
“Servant leadership is a leadership philosophy built on the belief that the most effective leaders strive to serve others rather than accrue crue power or take control. The aforementioned others can include customers, partners, fellow employees, and the community at large.
The term was coined by management expert Robert K. Greenleaf in an essay, 'The Servant as Leader,' published in 1970. According to Greenleaf, the seminal idea grew out of his reading of Journey to the East by the German writer Hermann Hesse. The novella tells the story of a band of luminaries on a quest for the Ultimate Truth.' When the humble servant charged to take care of their needs disappears, the group bickers and abandons the quest. Much later, the narrator discovers the humble servant is, in fact, the leader of the organization that sponsored the quest that he and his fellow travelers failed to complete."
With this idea of servant leadership, one might consider the stewards of the Lodge to be just as important as the worshipful master in the successful execution and growth of the Lodge.
Stewards come from any background. They are doctors, lawyers, military person- nel, farmers, and any other occupation that comes to mind. Even though they may have a background in running a business or leading others to a group objective, Freemasonry gives each man the opportunity to learn the essence of servant leadership. This is something that is uniquely differentiated from leadership in that it empowers each member within the organization.
If you were a steward in your Lodge, you were told your duty was something like, "To assist the deacons and other officers in performing their respective duties. One of the most important duties is to assist the senior deacon in preparation of the candidate's first reception. The stewards should, by their own tactful and efficient performance of their duties, impress upon him the real significance of the ceremo- nies of initiation (New Mexico)." The main duties of a steward listed in The Grand Lodge of A.F. & A.M. of New Mexico Official Monitor and Ceremonies pages 92, 120, and 212 are:
1. Responsible for refreshments at all practices and regular stated meetings. If small or light luncheons are planned, or a meal for special
occasions, they are to be seen also.
2. Responsible for cleanliness of the kitchen and dining room area after each affair and that all equipment and items used are cleaned and properly put away.
3. Be prepared if there is a real large attendance at a special affair to assist the deacons to collect the P.W. if directed to do so by the worshipful master.
It doesn't matter what your profession is, leadership comes from the lessons of being a humble servant. As a steward, you learn to serve and follow, to be more like it says in the Bible in Mark 10:42-45 ESV pg. 313,
"And Jesus called them to him and said to them, 'You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them, but it shall not be so among you, but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.'"
Remember that the most effective leaders strive to serve others, thereby exhibiting that noble attribute of Freemasonry where we try to please each other. Servant leadership is a peculiar characteristic of Freemasonry.
TOP


June 2021 Servant Leadership and the Deacons in the Blue Lodge
by SK Charles D. O'Neill, KCT, PGC
York Rite Leadership Faculty
The deacons are the first true "positional leadership" roles in the Lodge. Positional leadership is defined by John Maxwell as "…the lowest level of leader- ship - the entry level. The only influence a positional leader has is that which comes with the job title." The goal here is to build leadership potential and move on to the other levels of leadership by improving your influence in the Lodge.
The deacons have great responsibility. The junior deacon is responsible for guarding the inner door of the Lodge, and the senior deacon has the responsibility to guide and conduct candidates. The Lodge relies on them to keep the meetings secure, while candidates entrust their entry into the Lodge on the senior deacon. These are not trivial duties, and perhaps the element of trust is the key to building leadership ability as a deacon.
In these positions you start to develop your leadership role in the Lodge. You start to develop your ritual skills, and as these skills develop, your role in the lodge leadership will also increase. You must do all your duties in the Lodge to the best of your ability. This will build trust in you and improve your influence with the members of the Lodge, the past masters, and the sitting master. As you gain this influence, others in the Lodge will look to you for guidance and leadership.
The years you serve as the junior and senior deacon is also a time to learn by observing those in leadership roles above your station. Learning how the Lodge operates and learning the traditions of the lodge is essential to good stewardship as a leader. You should also see what the core values of the Lodge and its members are. By understanding these values and what the members are looking for in Lodge, you can start to plan for the stations which follow and eventually your year as master. The more you plan to meet the values of the Lodge and members, the more participation you will get from the brothers, and your Lodge will grow.
As you learn what your Lodge and the membership value, you can help to develop the vision for the ensuing years. Developing a vision will give the Lodge direction on how to move forward. It will give you goals that all can agree on. This will not happen overnight, and you will have to sell and get buy-in to that vision. If everyone buys in and shares the vision that has been set, the Lodge will work together as a whole to make that vision a reality. At this point you, as a leader, can serve and assist those doing the work. This is where your true service and leadership will express itself. We read in Luke 22:26, "But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest and the one who rules like the one who serves."
An especially important thing to remember is that while you observe the workings of the Lodge, it is important to take notice of not just those things that work but also those things that did not work. We can learn more from our mistakes and failures then we do from our successes. However, if something did not go as planned, remember to sit down with the other leaders and debrief on why it did not succeed. This will help improve everyone that was involved and help the Lodge going forward.
When you are a deacon, make note of your Lodge's traditions and work to build the trust and influence you will need to be the worshipful master.
TOP


July 2021 Servant Leadership and the Wardens in the Blue Lodge
by Sir Knight S. Lane Pierce, KYCH York Rite Leadership Faculty
Servant leadership is a special kind of leadership paradigm. As a servant leader, you have no authority because of title or position. Any authority you have is given to you by others. You cannot assume authority. You are a leader be of those you lead.
It is true that we Masons love our titles. We have loads of them! Yet, without the consent of the brethren, your title means nothing.
As a steward, you learned to serve others and to find pleasure in making them happy. That is the grand design of Freemasonry, is it not? As a deacon, you earned the trust of the brethren and took responsibility to ensure that all present were qualified to be there. You also began to assume responsibility for some of the work of the Lodge.
Continuing our series of articles on servant leadership, this month we look at the role of the wardens.
The junior warden is the first true leadership role in the Lodge. The junior warden is responsible for the Craft when the Lodge is at refreshment. It is his duty to see that the brothers are attended to and that none convert refreshment into intemperance or excess. Because of these responsibilities, the junior warden leads the stewards in their duties.
Of the symbolic lights, the moon represents the junior warden. It is an appropri- ate symbol for him since he is the authority during the hours of refreshment. While he is the leader of the stewards, he is assisted by the junior deacon, who has the moon in the center of his emblem of office.
The junior warden should take care to see that the brethren are refreshed men- tally and spiritually as well as physically. Before and after a stated meeting, the junior warden would be responsible for ensuring that there are useful and cultured topics of social intercourse. He should see that the chaplain is called upon to offer prayer for food and drink or for brothers who are unable to attend due to infirmity.
The junior warden is obligated to attend all meetings and assist the master and senior warden so that the Lodge is run profitably and for the benefit of the members. To do this, the junior warden must give commands and directions to the brothers, but he must learn to do so from a place of reason and influence. Remember, ma- sonic wages are paid in the form of knowledge, satisfaction, and recognition for good work. There is no monetary pay and no suspension that a junior warden can impose for noncompliance. He must be cordial and persuasive.
Returning to the symbolic lights, the sun represents the senior warden. This is a proper association, because he is responsible for the craft during the hours of work. He is to see that duties are done and that the work is executed with integrity. Like- wise, the senior deacon, who has the primary responsibility for seeing candidates through the ritual, has the sun in the middle of his symbol.
Because the deacons assist the three principal offices in their duties and the work of the Lodge in general, the deacons report to the senior warden. They are his staff. As the senior warden, you should take on the role of ensuring that the work of the Lodge is done correctly. The senior warden should make sure that all officers are in attendance and, when someone is not at his position, make sure that the position is filled by a competent brother. The senior warden oversees the work of the brethren until complete, and then he pays their wages. He is also charged with making sure that none depart dissatisfied. Maintaining peace and harmony is his primary goal. To that end, the senior warden may resolve disputes between brethren, being sure to
defer to the worshipful master in all appropriate matters.
Then we have the worshipful master. While ultimately, all things related to the governance of the Lodge fall under his authority, his most important functions are to set the direction, communicate the vision, and delegate, so that the Lodge might move together toward a grand future.
TOP


August 2021 Servant Leadership and the Wardens in the Blue Lodge
by Sir Knight Steve Balke
York Rite Leadership Faculty
I recently attended Lodge for the first time in over a year. As has been occur- ring in many jurisdictions, we are now able to return to meeting. Among the sixteen Brethren in attendance, we had what most might expect to be there
- an entered apprentice, one Brother who has not traveled east, several on their path through the line, and nine past masters. Generally speaking, our attendance was usually more about twenty-five of our seventy-five members before COVID, but the breakdown was roughly the same. While your personal experience may differ, in the four Lodges and many other groups to which I belong, the past masters (or past heads of the body) generally make up a majority of those who "show up." A finer point is that the sextant on their apron also denotes that they have usually followed up. A past master shows up more for three reasons:
1. Habit - As an officer, the regularity of meeting attendance has been a part of your life for up to ten years. (in New Mexico at least two years)
2. Investment - Between attendance, personal learning, projects, and the normal business of the Lodge, you have often invested heavily mentally, emotionally, and even financially in the success of the Lodge.
3. Relationships - Over the course of service, you have worked with many Brethren on many different things, not always comfortably at the time but hopefully in accordance with the values we adopt.
The journey to the East varies in every organization. When complete, you have of- ten become more practiced at being a telemarketer, cheerleader, Zen master, worka- holic, and have become learned regarding many vocations outside your own.1 When you are succeeded, a huge weight is lifted from your shoulders - you should feel like you have accomplished something - you have. You are now ready to lead others by helping them to be more successful than they would be by using only their own ex- perience, knowledge, and perspective. As new "lodge elders" we have the opportu- nity to couple our personal experience and knowledge with the work we have done in and for the Lodge and to help our new candidates, our Brothers, and ourselves, for we have also, quite likely, learned how to learn.
Our degrees show us that our intentional development in all areas of life is a "pro- gressive science." Even when, or perhaps especially when, our journey was fraught with obstacles, we may have figured out how to both overcome the obstacle and take any positive results from the experience. After we have completed an action, project, or line, it is our opportunity to reflect on what was accomplished, what could be improved, and how we might have encumbered our objectives, ourselves, and others less. Hopefully, we are also able to share these lessons learned with those that were there with us "in the trenches" so that they are able to continue the work we started, reassess the paths forward for value challenged projects, and to continue contributions to the organization.
When all these things continue to be done by those who happily allow for the civil succession of authority between those who intentionally exist on the level, we have effective leadership. These are skills learned, either through intentional study and application or through "hard knocks" and are usually a combination of both. By planning to continue to be involved, stay on the level, and expect to learn, we can become that ready resource for those who have an attentive ear.
As a "past … ," you are the one they will look to for guidance. May that guidance provide fruit for you, for them, and for your organization.
Sir Knight Steve Balke
York Rite Leadership Faculty

References
1. Source: The National Law Journal, The Other 10% of Life Ari Kaplan / Special to NLJ.com, April 14, 2008

TOP

September 2021 Ten Traits of Individual Effectiveness
by By Sir Knight Lane Pierce
York Rite Leadership Faculty
Before we can lead others, it is necessary that we learn to lead ourselves. The principals of individual leadership is the focus of the York Rite Leadership 101 class, and it is designed to help you learn more about your leadership style and how to evaluate your areas of growth and to expose to you some good practices of leadership.
Consider the following ten traits of personal effectiveness.
1. Time management. We do not manage time as much as we manage what we do with time. In the twenty-four hours we are given each day, how do you divide your time? How do you get good at something? You must work at it. So, you give up something so you can work on it. If you want to learn a new ritual part, you need to take time out of your day to do that. So what do you give up? Apply the lesson of the twenty-four inch gauge.
2. Self-confidence. Confidence means feeling sure of yourself and your abilities - not in an arrogant way but in a realistic, secure way.
3. Determination. Sir Knights are highly determined individuals. Think of the time, effort, and money you have invested in being a Knight Templar; learning ritual, drill, travel, and uniforms (a chapeaux is not cheap). Respect your investment of money with an investment in determination to create value.
4. Persistence. Did you learn to ride your bike the first time? I am guessing you did not. You got back on and kept trying until you could ride. Think back to when you were new to Freemasonry. Did you wonder how these guys remember all this information for the degrees or opening and closing? The same is true in Freemasonry. Did you learn your proficiency the first time it was taught to you? I know I did not. We persist in learning and doing.
5. Optimism. Sir Knights believe that the Christian beliefs establish much good in the world and that those beliefs are worth fighting for. Optimism and hope create the energy for a great future.
6. Problem solving. We all must solve problems in our lives, be it at work, at home, or in the Lodge. We learn from our failures.
7. Planning. Planning is the basic way not to waste time, and it helps with stress management. The more you can plan ahead the better. When the grand commander says, "I want you to run the grand York Rite sessions for your state next year," what do you do? You start planning, but what if he says, "I want you to run the grand York Rite sessions for your state next month." The planning is now a lot different.
8. Self-motivation. Motivating oneself to get things done is self-motivation. Find your purpose or "why," in the things you choose to apply your energy to.
9. Managing stress. Managing stress is crucial for personal effectiveness. Learning to say "no" is probably the number one way to lower your stress. It's okay to say "no," really.
10. Creativity. Some people call this thinking outside the box or seeing a different way of doing things. Sometimes it is just recreating the wheel. I think the first thing to do after getting a new project is to talk to the person or persons who did it last year or last time. "Oh no, it is a brand-new project!" Is anything really new in masonry?
Individual effectiveness is all ten of the items listed above. You can become a more effective individual if you take some time and look at all ten areas and focus on the ones you find that you can improve.
TOP


NOTES by MONTH - 2020
[ FEB ] [ MAR ] [ APR ] [ MAY ] [ JUN ] [ JUL ] [ AUG ] [ SEP ] [ OCT ] [ NOV ] [ DEC ]

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.
TOP


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.
TOP


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.
TOP


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?.
TOP


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..
TOP

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.
TOP

September 2020 - 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
TOP

October 2020 - 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.
TOP

November 2020 - Delegating Effectively

Last month, we talked about how to prioritize your time so that you are getting the important things done before they become urgent. This prevents burnout and helps you maximize your productivity. This month, let’s address another leadership topic that helps prevent burnout.
I remember the first time I was elected to the East. I was proud that I was regarded as someone who could and should lead our fraternity, and I had an overwhelming sense that I had to do it all by myself. It was my responsibility to plan the awards ceremony. It was my responsibility to plan the patriotic observance. It was my responsibility to plan the dinners and get togethers. This was a false belief. I learned that it was my responsibility to see that these things got done, but it was not necessarily my responsibility to plan and execute them.
A leader is one who leads others. The leader sets the vision, finds the workers, sells them the vision, and delegates the actions so that everyone is working as a team.
The Process of Delegation is; Choose an appropriate task > Choose the right people > Set clear objectives and plans > Implement > Monitor > Evaluate and Improve, then circle back to the beginning. This is the difference between a leader and a great leader.
Great leaders will shape others’ thoughts and ideas toward a common goal. They give their team everything they need to be successful and then get out of the way, not directing their path, but setting clear expectations and explaining where the finish line is.
Great leaders aren’t scared of their subordinates’ successes and don’t feel threatened by them. In fact, a great leader will make sure to celebrate their successes and generously give praise and recognition. Through this delegation and elevation, teams shine as they are able to contribute in the most meaningful way.
John Maxwell’s Five Levels of Leadership identifies the highest level of leadership, Pinnacle Leadership, as being achieved when you have a team that is creating its own tasking in order to fulfill the shared vision of the team. The team members will find ways to get things done while improving efficiency. They will share in the responsibility of seeing that each person who is contributing to the team’s success is individually successful.
As important as delegation is, it is equally important to stay out of the way of the team’s dynamic progress. Even though you may sense failure on the horizon, stay out of the way and offer good counsel. Share you concerns but allow your subordinates the opportunity to learn and grow. This is not to say that you should fiddle while
Rome burns. You will know if you need to step in or reorganize the team.
TOP

December 2020 - Accelerating Success

Success is guaranteed if you know where you are going, you maintain your focus on the goal, and you keep putting one foot in front of the other. Given enough time, you will surely get there.
Achievement of success applies to a group in the same way it applies to the individual. The difference is that, as an individual, you have direct control over your mindset and your actions. As for the group, you only have influence. Nonetheless, the principles are the same.
There are three elements that you and your organization can apply in your leadership practices that will accelerate your journey to success. These are "goals," "purposes," and "missions."
A goal is an objective. It is something to be accomplished. It requires steps and is task oriented. A goal might be as simple as adding two new candidates this month or raising $1000 for the building fund. The durability of a goal is the amount of time it takes to accomplish the goal.
A purpose is the "why" you are doing what you are doing. It should be inspirational or desirable so as to motivate action. A purpose for the goal of raising $1000 for the building fund might be so the members are more inclined to attend the meetings. The durability of a purpose is only as long as it motivates you. There may even be multiple purposes to appeal to a group of people.
A mission is bigger than a purpose. A mission is the guidepost by which all other activities must be aligned. Sometimes it is helpful to think of this as a "mission-purpose," as it provides long-term guidance and motivation for the organization. See the leadership article on purpose in the March 2020 issue of this magazine for more information.
Looking at this from a personal perspective, you can accelerate your journey to success by applying these elements to your planning.
First, define and know your mission. Turn it into a mission statement that is brief, and succinctly identifies the benefit provided and for whom it is provided.
Second, determine and write down your goals. Use a good goal writing process like SMART Goals (google it). Once written, put them in a place where you will see and read them each day.
Third, every single day, determine a purpose for doing those tasks related to your goal. The purpose may even be something not directly related to the goal. For example, my task today is to get five people to be a judge at the chili cook-off that will raise $1000 for our building fund. The purpose for me doing that task might be, to generate positive attention of Lodge activities to local community leaders.
TOP