Are you free?
Many jurisdictions ask this question of a candidate upon his first entry of a lodge. Other jurisdictions clear this matter up in the investigation and merely report his status upon questioning. But, it's an interesting question to be asked.
Are you free?
Certainly we're not worried about admitting slaves in today's age. So what are we being asked?
Are you free and unfettered; body, mind, and soul?
Wow! That's quite a set of questions. Are any of us? The chains that bind are unique to each of us, but why should a lodge's Deacon want to know such information before we are allowed to enter?
When requesting Secret clearance or higher, a person is thoroughly investigated. All ties, contacts, relatives, debt ... a complete profile is built of this person. Is he/she worthy of trust? The higher the level of clearance, the deeper the probe goes.
As a leader, you'll ask people to trust you. You'll ask them to put their lives in your hands, and with that, the lives of those that they love as well. If you are not free, are you worthy of that trust? Will you act in their best interests?
A classic example of this is the Madoff scandal. Was he free? Certainly, the evidence proves that he was not. His balance sheet was weighted so far in the negative ... yet he kept this fact from those that trusted him with their savings and their futures. He wasn't free, so he had to keep the stream of new money coming in to keep the illusion of freedom alive. But, as we've seen, it was just an illusion.
So, where does that leave the us? Think about the question, "are you free," when making decisions. See how much your freedom (or lack thereof) influences the decisions that you make as a leader. Look at the decisions made by other leaders and evaluate them based on the same question. It'll give you a whole new perspective on the decision making process.