Making Good Men, Better Men Since Time Immemorial
Making Good Men, Better Men Since Time Immemorial

The Successful Worshipful Master

Now that you have that Worshipful Master position…

Taking a half-day management seminar is not going to teach you what you need to know about supervising people.  In fact, the only way to really learn what it means to be a supervisor or manager is to be one.  At the same time, it is important to go into the Worshipful Master role with the proper attitude – one that is grounded in the notion that you are not perfect.  Keep in mind that trying to avoid mistakes is an admirable, but unattainable goal.  In fact, trying to avoid repeating mistakes is probably the better approach.  By now you are fortunate; you have served in many chairs as an officer of the Lodge.  A role model over the years who has demonstrated what it means to be a good manager and officer.  Generally, the greatest managers are those who are great leaders.  Demonstrate and direct those you already possess and try to work on those that you do not.  Leadership skills are not necessarily elusive.

Five things a new Worshipful Master should consider…

While there is no single, correct way to lead, there are certain things a new Worshipful Master should consider.  For example:

  1. What leadership skills, distinguishing quality and abilities do you possess?  Which ones are lacking and how can you develop what you need?
  2. Who are the men you will be leading or supervising? The members and officers of the Lodge.  Your job will be in communicating with proper instruction.  A more stable mature Lodge may need a Worshipful Master who allows the Lodge to run itself.
  3. What do the members of the Lodge expect of you?  Are you familiar enough with the institution’s culture to act appropriately and to set a solid example?  Can you be the kind of Worshipful Master your Grand Lodge wants and expects you to be?
  4. What are your own aspirations and expectations?  Do you have the desire and the energy to be a good Worshipful Master?  Are you eager and confident enough to do an effective job?
  5. Can you pool all of your knowledge and experience so that you are able to make fast, appropriate Worshipful Master decisions when you are called upon to do so?  Are you familiar with Lodge policy, legalities, and individual needs of your members?  Also, your Grand Lodge expectations to know how to respond to changing situations and circumstances.

Unless and until you are clear on these considerations, you may not be ready to step into the Worshipful Master position.  Once you are comfortable with them, however, you are ready to make a start on being an effective Master of the Lodge.

Great Master of a Lodge… Can be made…

They say that great Masters are born, not made. However, the other school of thought says that Masters possess common traits.  These traits are no secret, so being a great Master is simply a matter of acquiring or developing these traits.  The first thing to keep in mind is that great Mater’s have vision.

The term “visionary” is tossed around so frequently, that it has little meaning these days.  It might be described as being a thoughtful planner.  A great Master of a Lodge sees past the existing condition or state of his Lodge and imagines what could be.  This becomes the vision or goal.

The Master must then be able to express this vision to the officers and members in such a way as to make it compelling.  The more effective the Master, the more compelling the goal.  The more compelling the goal, the more motivated their followers be become.

Worship Master – First job is to inspire action…

Consider the great leaders of history.  George Washington, for example, painted a picture of freedom for the new world called “America”.  His vision was so compelling that he moved armies of men into action.  While this is an extreme example, the point is that the goal is not what makes the Master.  It is the vision and the expression of that vision.  The compelling goal might be to replace the roof on the building of the Lodge or simply to install a new computer system and under budget.  Whatever the case, paint the picture in a way that makes the officers and members of the Lodge want to obtain it.  Once you have inspired action, the momentum will help move you ahead.  A subtle point to not here is that a poor Master and officers drains the energy of the members.  There is nothing more difficult than trying to bolster the productivity of a work team when the Master or officers is/are unable to command a degree of respect.  Work done begrudgingly as a result of verbal humiliation will not retain the quality necessary for continued success.

Create Positive Energy…

A good Master, a good Officer, creates energy and draws out the natural energy and enthusiasm of the members of their Lodge.  While your members are using their energy to move toward the vision, your job is to make sure the pathway is clear.  Any obstructions that stand between your officers or members and their success should be cleared away by the Worshipful Master.  These roadblocks might come in the form of outside resistance, lack or resources, etc.

Leadership is a two-way street…

To be an effective Master, you must have the support of your officers and members.  This is something best tackled by means of good communication.  While your Lodge’s goal may be something that you don’t have control over, strategy to achieve that goal can and should be a group effort.  Talk to your members.  Get their input and their ideas about how to achieve whatever it is that you are setting out to do.  Your officers should feel good and willing to help.  This means, they should not feel helpless or afraid to speak up and share ideas and opinions.  For example, if you are searching for solutions to a problem, bring a set of solutions to the Lodge, but be open to suggestions from the members.  A member needs to feel as though his input can generate progress and create positive change.  Support your members.  Let them make mistakes and learn from them.  The lack of originality and risk-taking is the mark of a Lodge that is soon to be extinct.

Be Adaptable and Flexible…

Flexibility is another important skill you should have.  In today’s working world, change is the only constant.  The best Worshipful Master and the most note-worthy Lodge leaders are and will continue to be those who can most readily and most easily adapt to changing circumstances, situations and members.  The style you are using now may not be effective next year, or even next week.

Seven Traits of an Effective Master…

  1. Clearly define goals, direction and responsibilities for each Officer and member of the Lodge.
  2. Successfully communicate necessary information to all Officers and members of the Lodge.
  3. Work with members to establish expected results and achieve those results.
  4. Use the right person for the specific job function.
  5. Build an open, trusting, respectful, and honest relation with all members.
  6. Give Officers and working members’ recognition whenever it is deserved.
  7. Get more out of members without losing control.

One of the best ways to motivate members to produce more and better work is to give them more control.  This includes making their own decisions, managing their own time and working independently.  But how can you follow such advice while also retaining control of your team?  After all, you’re the Worshipful Master and your members do need your leadership, no matter how much responsibility you give them.  Here are some tips to keep in mind…

There is a difference between responsibility and power.  Yes, you need to give members more responsibility.  That way they’ll be more responsible, make better judgements, and learn to think on their own.  You need to give your members the chance to do things on their own and even to make their own mistakes.  But this doesn’t mean putting the power of running the Lodge in their hands – that’s your job.  In fact, many members may not want that kind of responsibility.

Empower your members.  What they want is to know that you have confidence in their ability to master their own tasks.  They want the sense of pride thar comes from have done something independently, thinking a problem out and solving it.  So, it’s up to you to choose the areas in which you want to give them more responsibility.  Pick a discrete task and say, “I’d like you to handle this on your own.  Feel free to ask me questions but go ahead and work on it alone.”  If the task is suitable for a team, ask two or three members to handle it together.  That will accomplish team building and increase responsibility at the same time.  Also check back from time to time to see how the work is going.  Your members will be relieved to know that you are there if they need you.

Some members don’t want responsibility – and some want too much.  Just as you need to pick the task, you need to pick the person when it comes to assigning extra responsibility.  Some people really do want to be told what to do, while others just want some guidance.  There are some who are power hungry.  If you give them the chance, they will try to take over your authority.  One tell-tale sign that you have a power-hungry member is that he will start telling other members what to do.  You must put a stop to this right away.  This is probably a member who is not a good match for his job, but one who, with the skills to match the ambition, may have promotion potential.  In the meantime, however, you are the Worshipful Master of the Lodge and you are the one in charge.

Delegate Meaningful Tasks…

Responsibility for its own sake isn’t going to help anyone.  Your members will feel as if it’s just a game.  You need to assign tasks with meaning and ones that will benefit your Lodge and Grand Lodge.  So, think about what needs to be done and what members can do more independently.  Then, make assignments accordingly.

Ask for Feedback…

A very good way to encourage responsibility and to learn something useful is to ask members to comment on how work is progressing, how operations are done, and how things could be Improved.  Members like participating in decisions and they are ideal participants since they are the ones doing the work.  Ask for their feedback.  You’ll be glad you did.  You will have cultivated the concept of responsibility while still being the Master in control.

Tips on Rewarding your Members…

Here are some of best ways to let members know you value their efforts:

  1.  Praise:  It can’t be stressed enough.  Praise is what makes members happy.  If a member knows that his Lodge members are pleased with his work performance, he will keep trying to improve his performance.  The reason for this is simple, he wants to keep earning that praise.  The Worshipful Master’s praise is worth a lot in emotional value.  Members get a great amount of self-satisfaction from knowing they have done something correctly.
  2. Party:  If a committee or team has done a really great job on a project, it may be time to celebrate.  You may want to do the celebrations with a meal.  Something simple like a cake and refreshments.  This lets your members know that you appreciate their efforts.
  3. Public Recognition:  This act differs from praise because a broader audience is involved.  Try a plaque with the engraved name of every member of the year.  Whatever route you choose, the member will feel valued when you make his great efforts known to all members and others that may visit the Lodge.  After all, members are proud when they do a good job and they would like other people to know that they are appreciated.  Maybe for some, their employer should know.


  1. To contribute to the overall goals of the Lodge.
  2. Demonstrate the values put forth in good standards of conduct.
  3. Practice responsibility and professionalism in all areas of life.
  4. Reliable, dependable, and honest.
  5. Look for the good in other people.
  6. Work well with others to get things done.

Prepared and Presented by:

Garry P. Wates

Past Master


Lodge #519