The following article comes from the book Alberta Workshop which is a compilation of the theme speeches of the first 25 years of the Masonic Spring Workshop held each April in the Mountains west of Calgary, Alberta. Bro. Tom Jackson (Pennsylvania) called this the best workshop available to rank and file Masons anywhere.


Bro. G. L. Berry

Since leadership is the theme, we need to define the word and the idea. Both “leader” and “leadership” are common enough, so everyone knows what they mean, but when you really think about them, it is not so easy to pin them down. The dictionary should be a good place to start, but try Webster’s! Among about twenty definitions for “leader”, we find, for example, “a thing or person that leads”, which is not very informative. Or, “something for guiding fish into a trap”, which might fit our situation. Or try this one: “the principal man of the party elite in a totalitarian system endowed by official idealogy with a heroic or mystical character, exercising governmental power with a minimum of formal constitutional restraints, and characterized by extreme use of nationalist demagogy and claims to be above narrow class or group interests.” Leadership is not even listed! while a Thesaurus does not define, it sometimes provides useful substitute words which might assist us. However, there I find precursor, harbinger, bell-wether, manager, rector, boss, agitator, taskmaster, none of which help us, except to make the point that we may not know what we are talking about even though we do know the word.

Sociologists, who are concerned with the actions of people in groups, are interested in a whole series of related phenomena such as generation gaps, alienation, political apathy, and institutional organizations, and find that a study of leadership and the leadership function is an important phase of their work. some of us who are involved in such applied sciences as education and commerce are concerned with the concept of leadership as administration, and have some theories about this aspect. It would be an easy way out to say that the leader is the one who is elected or designated as THE HEAD, that is, the W.M. in our case, and then limit our discussion of leadership to the duties and functions of the W.M., but this would be misleading and an abdication of our responsibility. there are other kinds of leadership besides the head, for example, the man who is AHEAD of the group by reason of his own achievements and can give a high level of consultative leadership; or the man who emerges in the group as A HEAD or leader, especially for specific tasks. In the lodge context, the first might be a resource person from G.L. office, a member of the Board of General Purposes, a speaker from research or study group, or the D.D.G.M.; while the second might well be a “side bench” member who could provide genuine leadership in furthering a building program, in a fund raising campaign, in the development of a choir or study group, and so forth.

Let us try for some sort of definition. The report of the Cubberley conference, 1962, includes an interesting statement:

“Leadership is a slippery word... a leader may be a man who has emerged from a group, or has been selected by a group to perform a relatively specific task, or who has generated goals and purposes that he has imposed on a group, or has himself been imposed upon a group by an external or higher authority.” All except the third could apply to leadership in a lodge. One sociologist (Selznick) says that leadership is the means of transforming a technical organization into an institution, or a receptacle of group idealism. (This could define the boundaries between a service club and a lodge.) Another one (Hemphill) says that leadership means the initiation of any activity that serves as a process for solving mutual problems. that is, leadership is the behaviour of an individual which directs the group to a shared goal. A statement made in a much different context seems to fit the lodge situation very well: “leadership consists of such acts by group members as those which aid in setting group goals, moving the group towards its goals, improving the quality of the interactions among the members, building the cohesiveness of the group, or making resources available to the group.” (Cartwright and Zander)

Implicit in these definitions is the two-fold function of voluntary associations, that of goal orientation and that of group maintenance. Masonic leadership has failed if it loses sight of either. Too often we become so concerned with the second that we lose a sense of purpose. How many times have you heard young members say, “What are we here for? If we are just another mutual admiration society, why don’t we just pack it up?” If they do not get a satisfactory answer, they do not come back. They swell our rolls but do not fill our benches, and a great reservoir of potential leadership is lost. Myron Lusk will have something to say about this in his paper.

Voluntary associations have existed from time immemorial, from the day when the cave man found that he could not manage some critical situation alone. They exist to achieve purposes or develop interests which man cannot achieve or develop as an individual. All such associations have an explicit purpose, whether business, sport, politics, education, fraternal or other. Although membership is always voluntary, there is always a complex value or social pattern involved. By definition, all such associations state the desirability of active participation by members, regular and frequent meetings, working on committees. holding office and decision by vote. Nevertheless, all studies, and there have been many, show that our present level of civilization exhibits three patterns in such associations: (1) there are a very large number of them (A study in Boulder, Colorado, just before I was studying there showed 245 associations in a city of 12,000); (2) there are large numbers of people who belong to many associations, and also large numbers who belong to none; and, most important in any leadership study, (3) there is in each case a small active minority and a large passive majority. We suggest that this imbalance might be partly corrected by spreading the leadership function around, developing participation by creating involvement.

The definition we have used also emphasizes the idea that leadership is not necessarily synonymous with leader, but rather implies that the locus of leadership may be either in the individual or in the group. there are indeed two main styles of leadership, autocratic or authoritarian, and democratic or equalitarian. both styles have their advantages and their disadvantages. Paradoxical as it may seem, the masonic organization seems to favour the authoritarian form, while masonic teaching clearly supports the democratic style. You may recall a part of the general charge at installation which exhorts the membership to remember that the nature of our order is such that while some of necessity must rule and teach others must learn and obey. Something in our Western culture seems to require a “central figure”, who may or may not be the most competent or efficient, who may or may not be like, and who may or may not be able to move the group toward its goals. The autocratic leader may be effective but not liked, while the democratic leader may be popular but ineffectual. the autocratic leader believes that the man of vision should direct the energies of the mass, while the democratic leader considers himself equal in status to all members of the group, responsible only for assisting in making decisions rather than giving directives. Moses needed no advice from the common man when he led the people of Israel to the Promised Land, but Solomon stood on a common level with the poor widow’s son and shared with him on an equal basis the direction of the building of the temple at jerusalem. We need both styles, and the best leaders share the attributes of both. Indeed, the three G.M.’s who presided at the building of the Temple provide an excellent example of the kinds of leadership mentioned in the introduction. Hiram, the widow’s son, was AHEAD of the others in matters of skill and knowledge; Hiram, the king, was A HEAD who brought wealth and means to the work; and Solomon was THE HEAD of the whole operation. Success depended on all three, and would have been impossible without their equal participation.

Who is the leader, or what sort of leader do we seek? One of the authorities on leadership (Jennings) said that there are three kinds of leaders, the rule breakers and creators of values whom he calls supermen, those dedicated to great and noble causes whom he call heroes, and those who seek power principally to dominate others whom he calls princes. Superficially, we might think we want to select only heroes, but not so. The leader we want and need has some of the attributes of all three. Since no society ever had an idea, we need the creative talent of supermen. We need the executive skill and efficiency of the prince, even though he acts like a social engineer and uses his human relations skills as means to play the power game. Overall, we must have the benevolent dedication of the hero. Our society tends to produce too few leaders who have a sense of mission and too many who seek only the power and glory of the executive. There have been many studies of leaders and leadership. I have selected only two summaries, one of which (Stodgill) indicates that the following groups of traits are associated with leadership: capacity, achievement, responsibility, participation, and status; and the other (Gibb) noted that leaders are energetic, self-confident, intelligent, verbally fluent, persistent and insightful. In all cases such traits are only generally related to leadership, and in all cases the leader is only slightly or moderately superior to the group with which he is identified. “A great man is great only because he possesses qualities which make him most capable of serving the great social needs of his time.” The great leader is essentially an exceptional man of outstanding qualities, but a self-made man who has characteristics that potentially belong to every man.

Much attention was given until fairly recently to the characteristics of leaders, under the mistaken assumption that leaders performed leadership. Studies were made concerning physical health and appearance, intelligence, self-confidence, sociability, dominance, and surgency (geniality, talkativeness, enthusiasm) of leaders, but they showed no particular clusters of such attributes. In general, the leader does not vary much from the norm of the group. One characteristic which did seem to be common was motivation or desire to lead. This would seem to support the active minority principle mentioned above. It is also a warning flag not to pressure members into office if they do not want to undertake the duties. Holding high office should be a pleasure as well as a privilege, and should not add an unwelcome burden nor contribute to building an ulcer. Any brother who chooses only to observe or to participate as a fraternal member should have the democratic right to do so.

One result of leadership studies is a clear indication that the role of leader varies from group to group. The political leader, the military leader, the business leader, and the leader of a fraternal organization may have some things in common, but they may have more differences than similarities. One seeks power, another dominance, another profit, while the master of a lodge seeks only to further the goals of the order. Since the ends are not the same, it would be surprising if the same means were used to achieve them.

The good leader must be prepared to invest himself. He does not manipulate subordinates for his own ends, but accepts responsibility for pursuit of group goals. If one of the purposes of fraternal organization is the development of the potential of the membership, then the leader has some obligation to develop his own potential. If the leaders and followers learn together, the accumulation of knowledge will be greater than if leaders simply transmit what they already know without increment. A growing body is a viable body, but an apathetic or dormant body is little better than a corpse.

The movement away from the study of characteristics of leaders to the study of the phenomenon of leadership itself has not advanced far, but we do have some glimmerings of new insights. One of more important ideas is that leadership resides in the group, that while the organization may have a nominal head, the real tasks of pursuit of group goals are carried out by many people. The total leadership talent of the group is available, rather than sterilizing a good part of this talent by relegating it to non-participation on the side lines.

Another important idea is that the designated leader, in our case the W.M. continues to serve a useful function. He satisfied our Western cultural desire for a focal point, he can facilitate action, and he can serve as impartial judge and director. Even more important may be the opportunity offered for him to improve his own skills of leadership. The trend in modern leadership theory indicates a movement from a position of authority to one of resource person to one of knowledgeable group member. there seems to me to be a strong parallel here as one moves from W.M. to I.P.M. to P.M. The W.M. is the representative of King Solomon, the head of the lodge in the terms we used earlier, the i.P.M. sits beside him as a source of strength and support, and might be considered the representative of King Hiram, a head of the order; and the P.M. reverts to a representation of H.A., a position he first held when raised but now surely ahead of the group in skill and knowledge. It seems to me that there is a basic lesson here as the P.M. takes a seat beside the youngest apprentice, a position of equality providing the best possible situation for leadership on a one-to-one basis. The “big brother” policy works in the rehabilitation of youth, and it may work equally well in rejuvenation of the lodge. We cannot afford to lose our P.M.’s.

The question of selection leaders is not an easy one in a fraternal body. I am sure Bob Aberdeen will have something to say about this matter tomorrow, but let me comment briefly. In business, there are scientific ways of testing the leadership potential of candidates. There are tests to establish aptitudes in many other lines. Still, in the lodge the matter is largely based on personal attributes, convenience, or willingness. We should be well aware that there is actually no line of succession to the chair of King Solomon. all eligible candidates should be considered on merit alone. there is no higher place in the power of the lodge to give, and only men worthy of that esteem and high honour should receive it. If some are found wanting in lesser offices, there should be no hesitation in dropping them, at least for the time being. A clear distinction should also be made between appointive and elective offices. The former rests entirely within the prerogative of the W.M., even though the “P.M.’s club” in some lodges tries to take this away, and no brother should feel entitled to any preferment on this basis alone. Let brotherly love and the good of the order prevail!

Leadership is a function which must be carried out if the group is to maintain satisfying human relationships, coordinate its energies, and perform its accepted tasks. It as three principle aspects: (1) influence in the area of creative or critical thinking; (2) influence in the area of procedural matters; and (3) influence in the area of interpersonal relations. The W.M. of a lodge should exercise all three, although the third may be most important if his main purpose is to promote interest, enthusiasm and good fellowship. some would argue that he can offer little in the way of creativity in a ritualistic fraternity, but even there he can contribute fresh ideas and knowledge and provoke original thought in his members. Under the second aspect, of course, he exercises good business procedures, initiating discussion, clarifying or summarizing suggestions and recommendations, and moving through the agenda with despatch.

What kind of leader do we want? We recognize at least three types, the philosopher educator, the business manager, and the benevolent autocrat. While our organization stresses the supremacy of the W.M., the master who is to be an outstanding success must possess the attributes of all three types. he must be ever mindful of the precepts of equality and fraternity, without which the reason for being of a masonic organization would cease to exist. The idea of democratic leadership which so well fits the lodge is expressed as follows on a memorial plaque erected in Provincetown, Mass., to the Pilgrim Fathers:

“This body politic established and maintained on the bleak and barren edge of a vast wilderness a state without a king or a noble, a church without a bishop or a priest, a democratic commonwealth the members of which were straightly tied to all care of each others’ good and of the whole by everyone.”