Leadership is a topic which should be of interest to everyone in our Order. Unlike many other types of organizations, Odd Fellowship is a democracy wherein all members in good standing have a say in the governance of the lodge. Not only do the members of the lodge have the final decision on all matters to come before it, but in a well-functioning lodge, all members are encouraged to take a turn in leadership positions and in particular to “move up the line” and become the Noble Grand. This gives our members the opportunity to develop their own interpersonal and organizational skills well beyond what a member might learn in other clubs.
If you have finally managed to climb up the ladder and attain the exalted position of Noble Grand and believe that you are now in a position of power, be at once undeceived. While it is true that the Noble Grand chairs the meetings and has the privilege of appointing most committees, that is about where the power ends. The Noble Grand is not like a monarch, wielding supreme executive power, unless we think of them as being like King Arthur and the Round Table – merely the first among equals. The Noble Grand is not even empowered to argue the issues of the day, with a very strong tradition in place that the Noble Grand may not debate from the chair.
So, what is a Noble Grand to do without any direct authority? The Noble Grand must strive to accomplish their goals through their own personal influence with other members. Thus, they would be well-advised to cultivate the social and collegial relationships necessary for this. Through all of their actions, a Noble Grand may collect “social capital” in the form of trust, reciprocity, cooperation, and friendship with the members of the lodge. Getting others on board with a desired decision may require the expenditure of social capital, so the Noble Grand should ponder carefully before spending it for a frivolous purpose or, worse still, depleting it to no good end through discourteous or thoughtless treatment of the members.
This is approach is not just helpful for an effective term as Noble Grand, but is also essential training for life, whereon one must often with those over whom one has no formal authority. Once again, Odd Fellowship presents us with an invaluable opportunity to grow and to cultivate those grand principles that tend to make people social and humane.
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