The Mark of a Good Leader

“Praesis ut prosis ne ut imperes"

          The position of leader, whether in government, business, non-profits…..and especially Masonic leaders, come with certain responsibilities.  Foremost among those is to be a good leader.  By that it means a leader who is not only effective at achieving the goals of the Lodge or organization that he is leading, but a leader who also does the right thing.

            Take the recent case of Lance Armstrong.  He was a role model for many, and because of this he was able to raise millions of dollars toward a cure for cancer.  

            Armstrong was found, however, to have won his races through cheating.  While his charitable work has had an impact, it does not negate the abuse of his leadership position.    

            Armstrong is not alone.  There are dozens of other high-profile leaders who lied or cheated to get ahead.  Some, such as the executives at Enron, get caught, but many others get away with unethical behavior simply because they are effective in achieving goals, and that is the problem.

            All to often, we confuse being an effective leader with being a good leader.  A good leader is one who accomplishes goals, but who also has good character.

            What distinguishes good leaders from those who are merely effective?

            First and foremost, good leaders do the right things versus simply getting things done.  Good leaders are responsible and play by the rules.  Good leaders treat people fairly and don’t lie, cheat or steal to get ahead.

            Good leaders also don’t leave followers exhausted, damaged or demoralized.  Good leaders don’t cause harm to achieve a goal.  They should leave the organization and its followers better off that when they began.

            The sport of cycling is not better off because of Lance Armstrong.  His followers, and his sport have been damaged.  His charitable work does not compensate for the damage.

            Leadership positions come with responsibilities.  Among those are achieving goals and having a positive impact, but foremost is the responsibility to do good. Leaders lose their way when they began to believe that the end justifies the means.

           Good leadership is not just confined to individuals, but also includes organizations, special interest groups and governments.  Might does not always mean that your actions are right.  Organizations, special interest groups, governments as well as Masonic Lodges or Master of Lodges who take undue advantage of a position of power today usually find themselves at a loss tomorrow. 


“Praesis ut prosis ne ut imperes, “ otherwise  “lead in order to serve, not in order to rule.”