Selecting, Engaging, and Utilizing Line Officers

Richard H. Ryder, May 2017

A Master’s team of officers, elected and appointed, has a direct impact on the current and future state of the Lodge.  Dedicated and competent officers are a tremendous asset and help ensure the health of the Lodge well beyond your term of office.  Selecting the right appointed officers obviously helps you during your year, but also is an investment in the future.  Engaging and utilizing officers in a way that effectively leverages their skills and interests is challenging for a new Master, but done thoughtfully and with feedback from trusted and respected members it is certainly not insurmountable.

As you plan for your term as Master, consider the following suggestions:

  • Communicate frequently and regularly with your Wardens, even starting well before your term. Share your plans and seek their feedback.  Have honest discussions about how they can support you in meeting your goals and how you can support them in meeting theirs.  Part of a Warden’s responsibility is to be an extension of you, serving as implementers of your goals and objectives.  Discuss their skills and interests well in advance of your term and then plan your goals and objectives around team strengths and weaknesses. Likewise, fully understand their personal goals and objectives, and discuss how you can assist in attaining them. Promoting team work and responsibilities within the three senior officers will help ensure success.
  • When working with your Treasurer and Secretary, follow the same guidelines as those stated above for your wardens. The Treasures and Secretary round out your senior team and typically they are Past Masters with plenty of experience to leverage. They are knowledgeable about working with Grand Lodge, able to assist in balancing lodge activities with lodge finances, and can provide insight into upcoming challenges.  Don’t underestimate the value of a strong and productive relationship with these important and vital members of your team.
  • Seek out a well-respected, knowledgeable, and trustworthy Past Master to serve as your mentor, beginning during or before your term as Senior Warden. Make him an unofficial appointed member of your team.  Just knowing that you have an experienced support person can build your confidence.
  • Junior Officers are appointed and thus present challenges and opportunities. Your challenge is to appoint the right person to the right job at the right time.  The person you appoint could be a future Master, however, not every person can or should become a line officer. There may be other ways for a member to contribute that better suits their situation and interests.
  • Refrain from just filling a seat with a warm body. During your year as Senior Warden, earlier if possible, get to know your entire membership. Develop a short list of candidates who have a combination of ability, interest, dedication, and potential to aspire to higher office. Sometimes this is not possible, maybe because of decreasing membership or other factors, but always strive to look to the future in every appointment.
  • The steward stations and below can be testing grounds for those men who would like to test the waters to determine if becoming a line officers makes sense for them and the Lodge. A Junior Deacon should have his sights on higher office, since he and the lodge have invested time and energy in his advancement.  A man who seeks the Senior Deacon station should have already decided to seek the oriental chair.
  • In addition to floor work and ritual, junior officers also have responsibilities to you and the lodge. There are many tasks to perform, not only in Lodge, but without.  There are lodge and district events, behind the scenes work, blood drives, new candidates, open houses, dinners, charitable events, etc.  There is plenty of work and plenty of opportunity for junior officers to be engaged and to feel part of the team. These are opportunities to demonstrate leadership, commitment, and the potential to be a senior officer or even Master. Work with your senior line officers to determine the best way to tap the potential and energy of these future leaders.

So, what do you look for in a junior officer?  Here are some tips.

Junior Steward and below:

  • Desire to serve as an officer and positively represent the lodge at all times
  • Commitment to attend rehearsals and meetings

Senior Steward and Junior Deacon

  • Same as Junior Steward
  • Ability to memorize and present ritual, perform floor work, and a commitment to do them as well as possible.
  • Become more active in lodge activities
  • Serve as mentors to lower line officers

Senior Deacon

  • Same as Senior Steward and Junior Deacon, but at a higher level
  • Ritual and floor work should be done at a high level of proficiency
  • A strong desire to proceed through the warden stations to Master
  • Higher presence and involvement in lodge activities
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