One of the main functions of the Scoutmaster is to train the Junior Leaders, in particular, the Senior Patrol Leader. I take this responsibility serious and am in a constant mode of looking for opportunities to train the Scouts to be better leaders.
Most of the training is informal and as we find ourselves in opportune times where a lesson has presented itself. What I have found is that, first, our Scouts really don’t know what they don’t know, and second, they don’t look for opportunities to learn and train others.
Now that is a pretty lofty statement, let me explain what I mean.. here is the training opportunity.
Teen age boys typically look for the easy way out. They find the path of least resistance, which in turn puts them in challenging leadership roles. They typically want to just get along and resist confrontation when it comes to being a leader.
Whether it is because the Scout lacks confidence or leadership skills they find themselves in situations that often times leave them feeling unsuccessful. This is where a good tool box full of good leadership tools comes in.
I had a discussion the other night with a Patrol leader. He feels like no one really wants to listen to him. So, asking a few leading questions we took a look at his leadership style and gave him tools to make it better.
First, the leader needs to understand who he is leading and why he is leading. Is it a specific task that needs to be accomplished or just general leadership within the confines of a Patrol? The leader needs to look for opportunities to be “the man”. Here is what I mean by that… Leaders are not Bosses.. but leaders are the “go to” guys that people want to follow. The leader become “the Man” when he can display in his leadership the 4 “C”s.
Courage, Candor, Competence, and Compassion.
Courage. It takes Courage to be a leader, especially a leader of Scouts. You will not always make popular decisions and you may be put in situations that pit you one against another. The Leader with Courage will always do what is right and the right thing for the good of his Patrol, or Troop.
Candor. Tell it like it is. Tell the Truth and never shy away from the truth. If a member of the Patrol is acting in the wrong way or not doing a skill correctly, don’t be afraid to hurt their feelings, tell the truth. We as leaders need to worry less about feeling and focus more on actions. Actions or the way we act and do things are far more important than feelings. A leader that demonstrates candor is respected and shows his good character.
Competence. No one wants to follow a leader that does not know what the heck they are doing. Following a lost leader gets the whole group lost. To build competence the leader must keep learning and testing themselves. Sharpening skills and looking inward at their decision-making. Constantly working to fill the tool box.
And Compassion. We lead people and manage equipment. Being that leader that cares about those that they lead grows confidence in the follower. When we genuinely care about making those around us better, they see it and start to build a better relationship within the team. When we care about teaching them and showing them the right way to do anything, we make them better. When we care enough to model expected behavior, those that we lead will follow and show that behavior back to us.
Taking the four “C”s and putting them to use will make the leader better and keep him focused.
The four “C”s also give the leader a simple set of standards so he can focus on what is important in his Patrol. My Patrol leader did not think that his patrol listened to him. So I asked the simple questions; What are you saying and How are you saying it? Do you come at your Patrol competent and compassionate? We discussed a missed opportunity that he had over the weekend camp out. A simple task of cooking a meal could have been a million dollar lesson to his patrol in skill and fun. That patrol was cooking venison steaks. The missed opportunity was how they cooked them. A little bit of prior planning on the Patrol leaders part could have made him “The Man”.
Cooking steaks over an open fire would have made a bigger bang within the patrol, rather, they cooked on a frying pan and used up lots of cooking utensils and time. The Patrol leader missed the opportunity to get his younger Scouts involved in the process and about 10 minutes into the ordeal of cooking, he lost them.
It was a great opportunity that was lost because he took the path of least resistance.
“The Good Idea Fairy”
I have listened in on many Patrol meetings. Most Patrol meetings end in frustration when members of the Patrol do not feel that they are being listened to. Sometimes the Patrol Leader needs to let the Good Idea Fairy be heard. Jotting down an idea or two and seeing how they can be worked into the plan for the next event. Maybe cooking over the open fire came up, but was dismissed by the leader. When the leader lets those ideas happen they get buy in from those that they lead.
Always look for that Teaching Opportunity. They are always there and we as Scoutmasters need to be on top of it. Allow the situation to run its course and then sit down with the Patrol Leader or other leaders and ask those leading questions that get them thinking beyond the path of least resistance.
Scouts are looking for that challenge and they want to be challenges. They just don’t know what they don’t know and you know… sometimes they are afraid that we are going to say no to them or shut down their great ideas. Go with it. We need to use those four “C”s also.
If it is not unsafe, unethical, or not outside of the Scouting program.. say Yes and let them find that learning opportunity. You will be the man when you keep learning and growing in your leadership also.
Almost everything we do in Scouting will come with a teaching opportunity. Find it and share it.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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