Reframing Masonic Leadership

by Senior Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Gregory J. Knott

In my last article, “What is Leadership”, I touched on the subject of reframing leadership based on the book, Reframing Academic Leadershipby Lee G. Bolman and Joan V. Gallos that I read last summer as part of a program at Harvard University. My goal is to take the four leadership frames outlined in this book; structural, human resources (people), political and symbolic and see how they might be used within the context of the Masonic fraternity.

Before we begin a discussion of reframing, what is framing itself? Framing is how information is presented by an individual, group or organization to make an argument, persuade action or influence, or help direct a desired outcome. Politicians use framing constantly to take a select set of information or data and present this in a format (story, social media post, etc.) to persuade public opinion or voters in their favor.

Some examples of framing within the Masonic fraternity might be; “We make good men better”, “2 Be 1 Ask 1” or “You get out of it, what you put in it”. We have all heard these at some point in time in our Blue Lodges. This framing of the fraternity influences how we do our work, present ourselves to the outside world and operate administratively.

The one thing you have read over and over and this blog and numerous other masonic social media sites is our fraternities’ seemingly endless struggle with change or innovations. The charge to the Worshipful Masters in some jurisdictions says “You admit that it is not in the power of any man or any body of men, to make Innovations in the body of Masonry”.

My belief is that reframing, and the four leadership frames, can give leaders within the fraternity the tools to help shape our fraternity in the years ahead. Reframing is the ability to look beyond the current situation or framework. Bolman says of leaders the “ability to reframe sets them free”.

Reframing gives a leader the opportunity to view the same thing through more than one perspective. But why reframe? Processes that are automatic can be slowed down to give time for perspective and consideration for improvement. Reframing will allow you to expand what you see and improve the quality of your sense making.

What you see, determines what you do, by expanding what you see allows you to understand there is often more than what meets the eye. Leaders can run into trouble when they see too little, see it wrong or get so hooked in doing things your own view of the truth. In other words you need to reframe how you are seeing things as an opportunity to help lead change within an organization.

In my next installment we will examine structural reframing and the three P’s of Change: Patience, Persistence and Process.


WB Gregory J. Knott is the Worshipful Master of Ogden Lodge No. 754 in Ogden (IL) and a plural member of St. Joseph Lodge No. 970 (IL), Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL) and Naval Lodge No. 4 in Washington, DC.

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