By: Sir Godfrey Gregg OHPM, ROMC
What is effective leadership? Who provides Mystical Court leadership? What can the Court leader be expected reasonably to do? What happens if he doesn’t do these things? Why isn’t Court leader-ship automatic? How do you promote some-thing that doesn’t exist? Who leads the leader? We have leadership problems in some, if not many, of our organizations. Another way to describe the situation is to say that we have many problems in our Courts and some of them are the result of ineffective leadership. If evaluated properly, we may conclude that some leaders are not gifted with the qualities of leadership.”
What exactly am I saying to you? First, that the constructive activities of the Mystical Court had not been implemented; second, that this is a one-man lodge–the members look solely to The Supreme Grand Commanding Officer for Leadership; third, that the one man was not aware of what he is expected to do or of how to do it, and, fourth that the members were resigned to letting the affairs of the Court drift along for another year. Let’s examine these points. What are the constructive activities of the Court which require implementation? Prompt opening and closing of meetings, proficient opening and closing ceremonies, courteous reception of visitors, considerate attention to candidates, orderly and harmonious disposal of Court business, informative special programs, community projects and public ceremonies, Mystical Court encouragement and inspiration for the Brethren. These are examples of constructive activities of a Court. They are the things that we expect to find when we go to a Court meeting, for we know that Courts die if they don’t engage in purposeful activities.
Now, what about leadership of the symbolic court? To whom do we look for leadership? Why, to the Master Commanding Officer, of course. Then what if he/she isn’t a leader? We cannot demand it of him/her. He/she is chosen democratically by a majority vote and any member is eligible to be chosen Master Commanding Officer of his Court. This is for a good Mystical Court reason and it has nothing to do with his/her gift of leadership. More often than not, the primary qualifying factor for a Master Commanding Officer is his/her willingness to take the office, rather than his/her gift of leadership.
Our selection of officers sets in motion a situation which, by its own horsepower, isn’t likely to provide the effective leadership we desperately need. The Master Commanding Officer was originally appointed to the line through chronology order, or because of his regular and early attendance at our meetings, plus, perhaps, his ability to make good ham sandwiches or his good companionship as a fishing partner. The new Steward was instructed to assist the Deacons and other officers and he/she was encouraged to expect advancement through the line. In due course he/she was elected Master Commanding Officer of his court and at his/her installation he/she will pledged his/her allegiance to Supreme Grand Commanding Officer, promised to observe the By-Laws of his/her court and to carefully perform “all the duties appertaining to his/her office.” Then he/she will be given the charges and regulations and not once were the words “leader” or “leadership” will be spoken. We extracted from him/her a promise to attend Grand Lodge but when we required his pledge to “pay attention to all the duties of The Mystical Court” we immediately gave him an out by adding “on convenient occasions. ” As a crowning gesture we told him, apparently with tongue in cheek, that he is now to be installed “Master Commanding Officer of Temple Court in full confidence of your skill and capacity to govern the same.” Then we spent the next twelve months grumbling because he didn’t have the gift of leadership.
We have dwelt on this superficial and exaggerated appraisal in a negative, and therefore a non-Mystical manner in order to emphasize this point. The installation of a Supreme Grand Commanding Officer does not automatically assure leadership in a court. Leadership is not a Mystical Court virtue. We should separate our expectation of Mystical Court attributes and when leadership qualities are missing, we should be willing to become involved and offer our leadership knowledge to help fill the gap.
Let us turn to our third element and consider the details of the leadership pattern which must prevail if constructive activities are to be implemented in the court.
1. THE LEADER ORGANIZES.
He/she plans ahead, assigns committees, delegates work, holds officer meetings, gets people involved.
2. THE LEADER IS ORDERLY AND REGULAR.
He/she comes early to the Temple, starts meetings on time, and anticipates problems, acts decisively, avoids late meetings.
3. THE LEADER ARRANGES INTERESTING MEETINGS.
He/she provides instruction, motivation and inspiration, invites guest speakers, recalls great moments in The Mystical Court, holds special nights to generate interest.
4. THE LEADER PRESERVES THE LANDMARKS.
He/she schedules a review and discussion of these to point out their great importance, calls attention when one is involved in court work.
5 . THE LEADER ENHANCES MYSTICAL COURT’S IMAGE.
He/she keeps the Temple bright and clean, encourages public ceremonies such as installations, Ladies Nights, School Awards, Church attendance clothed as members of The Mystical Court.
6. THE LEADER FOLLOWS THE STANDARD WORK.
He/she studies the Ritual regularly and asks other officers to do the same, encourages corrections, observes work in other courts.
7. THE LEADER PRACTICES BROTHERHOOD.
He/she is considerate, gives credit, shows appreciation, holds honour nights, is responsible and on call when needed.
8. THE LEADER IS REALISTIC.
He/she faces duties with honesty, withholds praise if it is not due, pulls no punches when hard decisions have to be made.
9. THE LEADER ADOPTS A MAJOR PROJECT.
He/she involves the court in something to sustain its interest for several months, or all year, such as a Sojourners Program, a Community Project, a Youth Program, a Bulletin, a Mystical Court Library.
10. THE LEADER SPONSORS MASONRY’S HIGH PURPOSE.
He/she makes meetings a source of inspiration for the spirit, encourages thinking on a high plane, focuses attention on man’s (woman’s)potential for excellence and greatness.
Ah, yes, if the Master Commanding Officer is gifted with the qualities of leadership, he/she performs these and similar acts and thus creates opportunity and impetus for an ongoing court program. But if he/she isn’t gifted, how do we help him/her? How do we give him/her leadership? The key word is HOW. HOW do we promote leadership when it is missing?
We contend that we are all a part of this drama and that we have a duty to make it work. Some of us may have a personal involvement; each of us will watch the developing picture in our court and will have a deep concern for the outcome. We should look in the mirror and say, “You own a piece of this action. Don’t give me your old worn out excuse that nobody interferes with the Supreme Grand Commanding Officer. What about Brotherhood? What about Service? What about Unity? What about the Instructive Tongue? What about reminding a Brother (sister) in a most friendly manner?”
Obviously, not all who see the need are qualified to lead the leader, but there are those in any group who know at least part of the answer and who can be trusted to provide personal counseling with propriety. This should be encouraged. Practical advice or a discreet suggestion from a respected Brother/sister can often convey a crucial message. Past Master Commanding Officers who have the precious gift of seeing a court problem for its relevance with 2012 and not as a carry-over from 2017 belong in this elite group of private counselors. District Bishops are uniquely qualified for leadership guidance. Not only were they appointed because of their leadership qualities, but they are charged to assist the courts to the best of their ability and they are supported by the authority of the Supreme Grand Commanding Officer. This authority is not used nearly often enough to pry open stubborn doors.
One step beyond private counseling is the action which can be taken within the court by individual officers or Brethren as a means of encouraging decisiveness thus, leadership, on the part of the Master Commanding Officer. Proposals can be made for lodge projects of programs, and discussions can be introduced to bring information into the open and obtain an indication of interest by the mystical court members and set the stage for the Master Commanding Officer’s decision. Motions for lodge commitment can be useful in forcing a leadership decision. Such strategy would be utilized for the primary purpose of promoting court activity but it should be done invariably in a manner to accommodate the court Master Commanding Officer and as a step in developing his leadership potential. If he is fully informed of the proposed business before the meeting, then so much the better.
A third type of correction for ineffective leadership is in group study of leadership principles. Court officer associations should Sponsor such studies through discussion, lecture or seminar programs. Mystical Court Officers and Committees should be involved in the leadership improvement effort by the offer of instructional programs in courts or officer associations. As a last resort, we may look eventually to The Mystical Court for a formal program of leadership training for officers of constituent courts. In fact, the time for that may be later than we think.
In summary, although we look to the Supreme Grand Commanding Officer for leadership, we often find him with limited ability and we cannot demand more from him; that court leadership is a management function and should not be confused with the philosophical duties of the Master Commanding Officer; that when leadership qualities are absent, the welfare of the lodge is in danger; that the technique of leadership and the pattern of court management can be defined and transmitted as a counseling or training process; that when the need for guidance is evident, those qualified to provide it should do so as a Mystical Court duty; and, finally, that any action taken should be expressly for the assistance of the Supreme Grand Commanding Officer and at his will and pleasure even when we use a 2 x 4 to get his attention, tenderly, of course.