"Lead or Be Led," Revisited
It will soon be officer election time in our lodges, so this issue’s message will of course be centered around this most important event. If you have even a slight interest in either running to become a part of the lodge’s officer team, or should you decide to play an equally important role in the lodge by being an elector of that officer team, I implore you to visit the Florida Elks website and read my article from this period last year entitled “Lead or Be Led.” The URL for that article is floridaelks.org/carls-corner/lead-or-be-led. I believe this to be a time-honored article that focuses on the need to elect qualified members to the lodge officer team, and it provides a good argument for why I believe it necessary for those elected officers to receive Elk-centric training, training in the how and why of how Elks do things. This can only be accomplished by attending the state-sponsored Officer Training Seminar in Orlando March 10-12. I feel so strongly about this training, not just for the benefits it provides our lodges, as in better-trained officers, but I also believe this to be a test of a member’s commitment to high office in the Elks and that if a new officer is incapable of committing to this training, perhaps that person should be passed over this year until such time that they can commit!
Also, here is a shoutout to Ginny Young, the Fort Pierce Lodge Secretary. Ginny was the first person to respond to the challenge in my last article, “Alone Is No Way to Run a Committee!” Not only did Ginny discover the discrepancy wherein I was saying there were 20 committees in our state which have a member (lodge chair) from each lodge, when in reality there are only 19, but Ginny also knew that the 20th “committee” I added pertained to the grants coordinator from each lodge. Thank you, Ginny, for being one of my biggest supporters and avid followers!
Seeking Only the Best for our Lodge Leadership Teams
I have often considered myself a student of the Elks and Elks processes and have been doing this for going on 39 years! That in no way makes me an expert on anything, but it does give me a unique perspective on many things Elks, and I enjoy sharing my point of view when I can in hopes that my introspection might possibly help others.
As candidates begin to declare for positions of leadership in our lodges, I thought it might be timely to share with you my list of the top 15 traits we should look for when assessing one’s candidacy for a position on the lodge leadership team. So here it goes:
#1 — The candidate’s willingness/ability to travel. Travel to the Officer Training Seminar in Orlando in March and travel to Orlando for the state convention in May. Travel within the district to DD clinics, district visitations of the VP & DD, and the visit of the State President. Travel to St. Petersburg for the midyear convention in November and to the camp in Umatilla for the February quarterly. Finally, for Exalted Rulers, the willingness to represent the lodge at the Grand Lodge convention in July in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A candidate’s willingness and ability to travel to these events for training, resource building and information is, in my opinion, the most important thing to consider when electing a member to high office.
#2 — The candidate’s thirst for Elks knowledge. Knowledge gained not only through attendance at events and training seminars but also through reading how-to manuals and seeking information on the state and Grand Lodge websites. Does the candidate have a willingness to learn how the Elks do things?
#3 — The candidate’s ability to use technology for communications as well as to complete online event registrations, produce printed reports and use web-based resources.
#4 — Does the candidate possess a track record for achieving and producing results both in their personal lives and in their Elks work?
#5 — Does the candidate have experience in resolving conflict and can they give examples of how they have resolved conflict both in their work and personal lives as well as in their Elks work?
#6 — Does the candidate have experience in troubleshooting and problem-solving? Many times, an Elk leader will be called upon to solve a problem of the lodge or a member and their approach to problem-solving should be of major concern to the electors.
#7 — How does the candidate communicate and how do they prefer to be communicated with? If the candidate is unapproachable or has a “my-way-or-the-highway” point of view, perhaps they are not the best candidate for a lodge leadership position. On the other hand, if they are a good communicator and are a good listener and make others feel worthy of their communications, they will make a much better choice.
#8 — We must all realize the need to make our volunteer jobs easier, so it is important to ascertain the candidate’s level of agreement with this statement. If the expectation is that an Exalted Ruler must micromanage every event and activity, how will someone who has a full-time job ever be able to commit to our job? We cannot afford to create barriers to success. A leader must delegate and convey expectations so that others may assist in carrying the load.
#9 — Elks learn leadership in a lodge by progressing through different leadership positions. We call this “going through the chairs.” This concept must not be taken lightly, and officer teams MUST figure out a way to restore this process in our lodges. Training through the chairs is the only way to gain a full understanding of the Elks’ unique structure and protocols. Elect only candidates who will commit to go through the chairs.
#10 — Does the candidate have the best interest of the lodge in mind or are they a populous candidate controlled by the factions? Associations are a great representation of who a candidate is being backed by and if their intentions are self-serving or not in the best interest of the greater membership. Don’t cave in to flooding of the ballot boxes. When necessary, fight fire with fire! Look for someone who gives of themselves and considers it a privilege to be of service to ALL!
#11 — Can the candidate give examples of how they, in their work or personal life, manage expectations? Will the expectations of the lodge and others guide their actions, or do they believe since they are the hardest worker that they do not have to account to others?
#12 — Is the candidate respectful of others and their opinions? If one does not give respect, however will they expect to get respect? It is not something that can be mandated, and these days, respect for the “position” but not the person simply doesn’t cut it. Choose candidates who are respectful to others.
#13 — Mentor and be mentored. Do not allow someone to approach a position with career ambitions. Look for candidates who are eager to attain progressively more responsible positions, who accept guidance from others and who in turn give guidance to others.
#14 — Seek candidates who are humble and who do not always have to be right. Compromise is an art and is a trait of the best leaders. Have the candidate give examples from their life of a time when they made concessions that were in the best interest of others.
#15 — Is the candidate open-minded when it comes to new ideas and are they willing to involve others in the planning process who are not usually included or who possess an adversarial opinion? Don’t let this be a simple yes or no answer. Have them provide examples of times they have done this or of projects where open-mindedness prevailed.
There you have it, my top 15 best traits for a lodge leader!
Oh, and by the way, with no insult intended to the many who have stepped up and accepted the election, but I believe one of the most destructive things we are doing in our lodges is electing non-Past Exalted Rulers (PERs) as trustees. If there is one position that prepares you to be a leader on the lodge’s board of directors, it is Exalted Ruler. WE must insist that only PERs be elected to the position of lodge trustee and end this destructive practice.
When electing someone to office, we are bestowing upon them an honor. Our election process must be held to the highest of standards to attract the best of the best! Our lodges provide members a unique environment within which to perfect and polish their leadership skills while serving our members and our communities.
What do you consider to be the most important trait for a lodge officer? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share! I look forward to hearing from you!
Carl Seibert, COO/State Secretary
Florida State Elks Association