The Four Types of Fraternity Brothers

A highly successful TKE brother shared this quote with me, and I think it is spot on.

There are only four types of officer. First, there are the lazy, stupid ones. Leave them alone, they do no harm…Second, there are the hard-working, intelligent ones. They make excellent staff officers, ensuring that every detail is properly considered. Third, there are the hard-working, stupid ones. These people are a menace and must be fired at once. They create irrelevant work for everybody. Finally, there are the intelligent, lazy ones. They are suited for the highest office. – General Erich Von Manstein (1887-1973).

I am fairly confident this quote invoked images of brothers from your fraternity.

Every fraternity has lazy, stupid guys. Fraternity leaders spend an amazing amount of time and energy to try to motivate them to ‘do more’. What a waste of time. Fraternity leaders would be better off directing their energy to more worth-while endeavors.

Every fraternity has hard-working, intelligent brothers. These brothers are the backbone of the fraternity and do ten times what the average brother does. A fraternity cannot exist without these guys and they should be treasured.

Every fraternity also has the hard-working, stupid brothers. These guys go off half-cocked on one hair-brained idea after another. Since they are dumb, most brothers don’t have the heart to tell them to stop. These guys are a cancer to any organization.

Finally, there are the intelligent, lazy brothers. The General says these are the ones best suited for highest office. Intelligent, lazy brothers will think of ways to do things faster, smarter and better. Then, they will be eager to give the responsibility of actually implementing their ideas to the other brothers. This promotes ownership in the fraternity, which leads to an increase of morale and participation. This is exactly what you want in a fraternity leader.

This is an awesome quote, and really sheds a lot of light on our brotherhood. Thanks Mark!

3 thoughts on “The Four Types of Fraternity Brothers

  1. Pat – I think we do agree. Delegation is generally good. Lazy is generally bad. Synonyms for lazy are idle, indolent, shiftless, and slothful … I think you would agree these are in not characteristics of a good leader. Perhaps “resourceful” rather than lazy is more accurate. “Lazy” served the purpose to challenge conventional wisdom (arouse interest in the point) but it’s at the risk of giving the wrong impression. Really good leaders are multi-faceted … they know when to lead, when to follow, when to delegate, and when not to delegate, when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em. Kind of ecclesiastical really. 😉

    Not to belabor the point though … the original article is a good attention getter and most will interpret it the way it was intended. For the record though, everybody knows there are really only two kinds of people – those that think there at two kinds of people and those that don’t.

    All the best.

  2. There is some good insight in this article but I would challenge the seemingly counter-culture wisdom that the intelligent lazy brother is well suited for office. Generally intelligent lazy people are very selfish and waste much of their potential. They are the kind of person you do not want to assume leadership because they will abuse their power or use it to their own end. If you think they can be salvaged then direct them to assist the hard working dumb brothers. They will only do it to get out of work themselves, but with little interest in helping the dumb reform. So, you should work not to pledge the dumb lazy people nor the intelligent lazy people. The hard working folks can make it a good place to live and the intelligent can assist the dumb to the right path. I will give you that the intelligent lazy people can be more “efficient” and innovative, but that seldom outweighs the damage they can do out of pure self interest. In fact your fraternity would be best off to recruit hardworking intelligent people whenever possible. If you figure out how to do that you are a very good judge of character! Keep on thinking free.

    • Rich – I appreciate the comment. I think the point here is you want someone to lead who is smart enough to understand what needs to be done, but not willing to do it all himself. I think you took the quote too literally. The worst type of leadership happens when one guy takes everything on his own shoulders. As I am sure you will agree, it is more productive if good ideas are delegated, so everyone feels empowered to improve the organization.

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