The Greatest of them all


photo credit: the Dollarphotoclub

When it comes to leadership.. there is really nothing new.  The principles of how to lead and the core competencies that it takes to lead have not changed in thousands of years.  It is in the execution of leadership where we find new techniques and styles that cause us to be effective leaders or dare I say.. bad leaders.  But in essence, leadership is leadership.  In the Army we develop TTP’s (Tactic’s, Techniques, and Procedures) for everything.  On how to clear a room to how to repair a tank, the TTP’s associated with the task drive the leader and follower to finding success.. it is all about how to be the most effective and ultimately, Win.
As I have grown as leader and came to a better understanding of effective leadership versus ineffective leading, it dawned on my that in leadership we draw on TTP’s of effectively leading.
One such Technique of effective or good leadership is articulated very well in Simon Sinek’s book “Leaders Eat Last, Why some teams Pull together while others Don’t”.  He states, “the true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own. Great leaders truly care about those they are privileged to lead and understand that the true cost of the leadership privilege comes at the expense of self-interest.”  This statement encapsulates the Greatest virtue of leadership.  Being a Servant leader or Putting the needs of others before our own.
It is a real simple concept.  We put those that we lead ahead of us.  As leaders we are bound and determined to focus on the tasks completion.  But what we need to understand is that it takes the team to accomplish the task.  The team that you lead is the effective force that will achieve success if you lead them.  Putting their needs before your own will ensure their motivation and willingness to shoulder the burden of the task.  It will build cohesion in the team and model servant leadership throughout the team. Team members will better understand what their part is and will go the extra mile for you when the trust you, believe in you, and know that you care for them.
This leadership principle has been around for ages.  It has not always been used and the results have varied.  The one thing that we know for sure is that it works and it is the Greatest leadership TTP.

Be a Servant Leader.  Put the needs of others in your daily lives ahead of your own.  Today’s mission is to be a better person and make those around you better.
Care for and take care of one another and you will be the greatest of leaders.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Good People


Me and my Wood Badge Mentor Sheryl

“Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” – George Washington
This weekend was our annual University of Scouting training event.  Like most Councils the training includes everything from Basic Leader training to Women in the Wilderness.  It is always attended well and with a lot of enthusiasm.  I marvel at the amount of Scouters that take an additional Saturday from their already busy lives to get trained.  Training that will ultimately make their units better.  But more so do I appreciate the Scouters that take the time to train those that show up for this event.  These amazing people spend time and energy and their own money to make great training happen.  They over deliver when it comes to training the Scouters of our Council.  I love to hang out on the Midway, that is where the action is.  That is where the parade of Scouters happens, a constant din of enthusiastic Scout chatter fills the air.  Scouters learn about program elements of the Council.  They are introduced to the adventures their Scouts have available to them.  They meet old friends and make new ones.  The networking at the University of Scouting is perhaps the greatest tool they put in their box for the day.
As I manned the Wood Badge booth before and in between classes I could not help but note that these are all really good people.  I shared with a friend of mine the quote that I opened this post with from George Washington, a quote that I have used frequently with the Scouts of my Troop.  Essentially it is about the character of the people around you and how you are perceived by others because of the folks you hang out with.  In short, be with great people and you will be great.. the opposite is also true.  As I watched Scouters walking about the midway I counted my blessings to have so many of them as friends and thought to myself that there was no where else I would rather be at that moment.
I taught three classes over the course of the day.  I was asked to teach “Effective Order of the Arrow Representatives”.  A class that I taught at the National Order of the Arrow Conference last year.  I was pleased to have a good group of Scouters that wanted to make their units better using the Order of the Arrow as a motivator in the unit.  I also taught a class introducing Scouters to Backpacking.  The gist of that class was to help unit adult leaders understand that backpacking does not have to be hard or expensive and that even first year scouts can do a 50 miler in their first year (ours have).  And then in the final session of the day I was a Co Instructor in a class that introduced and answered question about Wood Badge.  We called it “Wood Badge, What is it and Why should I go?”.  That class was packed and yielded some outstanding questions.  It gave me an opportunity to share the Wood Badge program and what it has done for me.  It was also an outstanding opportunity to meet some really great Scouters that are dedicated to making their units better.
University of Scouting is always a motivating experience.  For many it is that event that recharges scouting batteries.  For many it is a first look at much of what Scouting has to offer.  But for all of us it is an opportunity to build our reputation by being among some of the best people I know and surrounding ourselves with good company.
A day well spent.  Hope you have those kinds of days.

Have a Great Scouting Day! 

On Character

1914461961-a-people-of-character-3-quotesWe talk a lot about Character with our Scouts and on this blog.  Character is one of those things that as an organization we value and strive to instill in our Scouts.  Character development is one of the goals that support the mission of the Boy Scouts of America.  But what is it?  How do get it?  Where does it come from?  And how are we supposed to instill in our Scouts… Character?
Nature or Nurture?  Are we born with Character? If so.. why do we need to teach and develop it?  I believe that humans are born with an innate need to do good.  We are creatures that want to be a part of something greater than ourselves.  We strive to be happy or find happiness.  In most cases that means serving others.  We see this in children, they have a need to please their parents.  This is an element that shapes character.  The behavior is reinforced when the parents reward the child for “Good behavior”.
Character is behavior.  When we think about character or better yet people that have character we think about their behavior or the behaviors that they consistently demonstrate.  Behaviors that look all to familiar to those of us in the Scouting program.  They serve, they are Trustworthy and Kind.  They are Obedient and Brave.  In short they live the values of the Scout Law and try to live up to the promises found in the Oath.  This is a Nurtured act.  Just as we were taught at a young age the 10 Commandments and the Golden Rule.  They, coupled with the natural tendency to do good help shape our character.
We can all agree on what we look for in someone that has character.  Honesty and Loyalty for example.  I am sure that we could also come up with lists that differ.  This is where it gets difficult to teach and train or develop character in our Scouts.  It is too easy to lean on the Scout Oath and Law, but is that all there is to it?
When we talk about being brave to a young man how do we explain it?  A Scout is Brave, according to the Scout Handbook states;  A Scout can face danger although he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at him or threaten him.  Couched within the value of being brave we find courage, tolerance,  and patience.  All could be found in a list of character traits.  So it’s not as simple as asking the Scout to live the Oath and Law and when we have those discussions it’s not acceptable to stop and what the book says.. there is much more to it that reciting the law.
We require of our Scouts to do service.  But is it service for the sake of service or is our requirement of participating in service projects just to fulfill a requirement?  The idea of being of service is clearly a desirable trait of character.  It is one of those traits that we find in most people we consider to have Character.  But service for service sake becomes a nurtured act, an act that if not taught properly will only be a ticket punch and not a desire to serve because it is the right thing to do. Again, we need to reinforce the need of people to fulfill their natural desire to do good.
We know that if not reinforced or taught, modeled and acted upon Character will not take.  We need only to look at people that we consider to lack Character.  What makes us believe that they do not feel the need to do good?   What is the trait that makes a person do bad things?  What went wrong in the natural process or the nurturing of character building?
We don’t know what we don’t know.  So if we are born with Character, I wonder why we don’t all have it.  If we believe that we don’t know what we don’t know and that we need to be taught the behaviors that build our character then Character must be nurtured alone and not part of our nature.
What does all of this have to do with Scouting?  Simple.  When we take on the role of a Scout leader we find ourselves in a position to teach, coach, train, and mentor through the Scouting program.  We find ourselves obligated to move our units and the Scouts within toward the goals of Scouting and as a result we fulfill the mission of the Organization.
In a recent discussion on facebook there was a question about taking away the Eagle award from someone that had earned it then went on to do bad things, Criminal activity etc. The Boy Scouts of America does not EVER take away rank once it is earned.. no matter what the circumstance.  The point is that if we have Scout leaders that take our role seriously we should not end up in that position.  If we do not understand Character, what it is, where it comes from, and how we teach it, how can we effectively turn out Eagle Scouts or Scouts in general that have Character.
It is easy for us to stick to the Oath and Law and draw our conclusion that within Scouting that is all we need to check the box and award rank to our Scouts.  It is not about rank.. it is about Character, Citizenship, and Fitness.
We do our organization, the people in it, and our communities a disservice when we view Scouting as just another club and the values don’t matter.
We all have seen or maybe are in a unit that is all about the ticket punch.. produce as many Eagles as possible and feel great about the mythical Scoutmaster Score card.
When we really think about character we are playing with fire when we fail to teach it correctly.  When we fail to be people of character.  When we fail to model the traits that are common to people with character.
Character is learned.  It is nurtured through reinforcing good behaviors.  Behaviors not only that make the Scout good, but to do good.  To serve not to gain, but to be of service.
We need to understand that the Scouts in our care come from different backgrounds, cultures, and homes that share values across the spectrum.  We need to take into consideration that we can not change the values of the family or their faith group.  We can demonstrate doing good.  We can be those values found in the law.  We can show compassion and caring when we teach about service and what we personally expect in someone that has character. We must be consistent in our behavior and know that the Scouts are watching everything that we do.  For many of them, and I would include myself in this number, the Scout leader is someone that is looked up to and is expected to have character.
At one point or another we have all heard that “Character is what you do when no one is looking”.  While I agree, that does not define us and our character.  Character is who we are and what we do…all of the time.
So is it Nature or Nurture?  Born or Learned?  God Given or grown and developed by habits and behavior?  I think it is a combination of all of the above.  I know.. cop out answer.. but it takes it all to shape and become a person of character.  We need to know that.  We know what we know and when we act in opposition to what we know is right we demonstrate a lack of character.  On the other hand, good character comes from people with a desire to do good and be good.
Food for thought.

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”
― Helen Keller

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Building My High Performance Team

logoIn the Wood Badge program everything we do.. and I mean everything, is a model for what the Scouting program is supposed to look like.  From the way we dress to the way we strive to be a High Performance Team, the Wood Badge staff models success.
In this process of getting ready for “my” course I am tasked with putting together that high performance team in my staff.  A task that I learned, or am learning is of vital importance as I look down the road to August and the experience we are going to provide for those participants.  Get it wrong and it could lead to a bad experience for 56 Scouters that we truly want to go out and leave their mark.  Get it right and we will leave a legacy that will continue to have a ripple effect long into the future.
The Admin guide for Wood Badge is the standard set by the National Training committee for the conduct of Wood Badge courses.  It ensures that all Wood Badge courses Nation wide are delivering the course the same and that Wood Badge Course Directors are conducting the course in such a way as to grow the Wood Badge community and have that lasting impact in Scouting.  It sets forth guidelines so Council Training committees do not create Wood Badge empires and Critter cliques.  The Admin guide is a Model for Success.
Within the Admin guide and the course, Wood Badge stresses the importance of leveraging Diversity for successful team building.  The guide requires us to have 1/3 of our staff be first time staffers.  This creates a nature flow of new Scouters into the Wood Badge staffing community.  It forces Course Directors to go out and find those new folks that will be a part of the team.  The Course Director is also to look for the team to be diverse.  We know that diversity makes teams stronger.  Differing points of view, cultures, Scouting programs, and where they are from within the council are some of the diverse background that build a high performance team.  Note that I did not bring up race.  Yes that is certainly a part of diversity, but all to often it becomes the only lens that is looked through in the diversity discussion.  Race plays a roll in building that team, but we should not forget the many elements of a diverse team.
So through this process, I have made it a point to look at all of the elements of diversity in building our staff.
I have met with or know the men and women that will serve on the staff.  Removing bias or favorites.  I have maintained that 1/3 of the staff is new and that the staff is split 50/50 men and women.  One of my biggest criteria in building this team is how well they will get along and interact with one another.  We only have so much time together and I wanted models for success right out of the gate.. or at least the 90% fix when they meet together for the first time.
Building our team is important.  It is the foundation of the success of the course.  These 20 or so people will be the model for everything that is right about Wood Badge and Scouting.  I feel we nailed it with this group.
Just like what we want to see in our Troops, each Patrol being the model of Scouting, the staff will give a look of that for the participants to take back to their units.  When we do that, we live up to the ultimate goal of Wood Badge.. to make units Better!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Enough is Enough

shutterstock_219086257I once had an Assistant Scoutmaster in our unit that came to me one night and announced the he was “Burned Out” and that he was leaving Scouting because “Enough was Enough”.  He felt that he no longer had something to give the program.  Well, much to my dismay, I had to respect his feelings and let him go.
I wondered why he felt that way for the longest time.  It was something that weighed on my mind.  I asked myself over and over if there was something that I could have done to keep him in Scouting.  Unlike retaining our youth, where we know that program keeps them interested, what is it that keeps our adults around?
We make assumptions when it comes to our adults.  First, they will stick with the program as long as their son or daughter remains in the program.  Second, the adults of our program believe in what we are doing and understand why we do it.  And third, they feel that they are value added to the program.
So when is enough.. enough?  I would also assume that it is when one or more of the first three assumptions are no longer valid or true.
There is the adult swinging door when their Scout is no longer a Scout.  I would hope that they always feel that our program is understood and they continue to believe in what Scouting does for our youth.  And I would also hope that they always feel valued.
Having said all of that though… I understand that we all have phases in our lives in which our priorities change, we grow, and we move on.  In some of those cases enough of one thing becomes enough of that thing and we move to something else.
But we are talking about Scouting.  Timeless in its values, programs that are second to none, and leadership development that our youth will never get in School.
Scouting develops citizens, it builds character, and in a world where we have way too many kids overweight and addicted to video games, Scouting gets them outside, lets them run and be boys, and reinforces good health and fitness.
Back to my Assistant Scoutmaster.
When I sat with him and asked what he was burned out over, he really couldn’t pin it to one thing.  He sited the time commitment.  He talked about the expectations of being an adult leader in our unit.  His sons were leaving the program.  And there I had it.
While all of the other Assistant Scoutmasters where committing to attend Wood Badge and seek additional training.. he did not.  While we all committed to spending extra time in developing our youth leaders, putting in extra time to work on the program, and some of us still had boys in the program.. enough had become enough for this guy.  By the way, he was and is a great man.
So what?   The question that remains is what do we do about it?  How do we keep it from happening?  How do we keep our adults motivated, valued, and committed to the program?
First of all I don’t think I have all the answers.  But I do know what is working in our unit now.
Adults are motivated by the program goals and having a part in achieving them.  They all play a role in making our program the very best that it can be.
There is a job for everyone and that means that the work is spread out.  No one is overwhelmed wearing too many hats.  There is an understanding that “NO” is an acceptable answer.  We all need time to step away and have a free weekend or a Monday away from the meeting.  When we do this and no one is made to feel bad for being gone for a camp out or meeting night, they are more apt to giving more later.
Every team member is valued.  We all have our talents and skills.  Each one of us bring something unique to the unit.  We value that.  We say thank you a lot.  Even for the little things that people don’t think matter.  They matter.
And our adults are committed to the program.  Everyone of our Assistant Scoutmasters have been to Wood Badge.  This next year, many other adults of our unit will attend.  Why?  Not for the beads, but for the opportunity to learn and get on the same sheet of music.  When we all sing the same song we make outstanding music.  Wood Badge is a model of Scouting at it’s best.  That is what we want in our unit.  Best is what we strive for.  Our youth count on it and deserve it.
So when is enough, enough?  That is in the mind of the individual.  When is that a red flag for a unit?  All the time and it needs to be addressed, figured out, and fixed.  Enough is not good enough for the youth we serve.  Does that mean that everyone stays forever?  No, but when they leave it is not because of burn out or being fed up.  It is not because they feel that they have nothing to offer or lack value.  It is not because their Scout left.  They always have a place, value, and should believe in our program.
Keep an eye out for Enough is Enough, it could be a terrible trend in your unit that can get ugly real quick.
Stay motivated, be an asset to your unit, know you have value, and commit to the greatest youth program on Earth!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

And I’m going to work my ticket if I can…

calmticketThose of us that have been to Wood Badge, and those that have been around to hear a group of Wood Badgers sing the Gilwell song have heard the refrain “and I’m going to work my ticket if I can..”
What the heck does that mean?
Well, there is not a real simple answer other than to explain what the ticket is and the attitude of all Scouts and Scouters.. WHOA!.. All Scouts and Scouters???  Yes.. from a very early age in Scouting we pledge to “Do our Best”  To give it a 100%.. the “it” is whatever we find ourselves doing.  So to work the ticket if I can.. well, we suggest to one another that we will do our best to work the ticket that we write while in Wood Badge.
The Ticket.
The readers digest version of the ticket is this; British soldiers would have to purchase their tickets back to England at the end of their service.  This was a real big deal when the soldier found himself in India, Africa, or other far away places that the British Empire sent their Army.  So the soldier would request assignments closer and closer to home.  This became a goal of the soldier to make his way back to England.
Baden Powell used the “Ticket” as an analogy for setting goals and accomplishing them, thus leaving a lasting legacy in Scouting.
Wood Badge has adopted the Ticket as part of the program since the beginning.  The ticket is the way to move the participant to seeing his or her vision to reality.
So when we work our ticket we are working our goals that get us to accomplishing our mission which eventually see’s our vision to something that is very real.
Doing our Best to leave a Legacy in Scouting and our world.
So we are going to work our tickets if we can!
Another fantastic Tradition of Wood Badge and Scouting!

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Close the back door

back-doorThere are two phrases that absolutely drive me up the wall, First is “Aging out” and the other is “Eagleing Out”.  No where in Scouting are those two terms found.  These are terms founded by lazy leaders that do not understand the entire Scouting program or are not creative enough to keep a Scout interested enough in Scouting to stay.
So what does this have to do with the subject at hand?  Everything.
You can never out recruit you losses.  When we allow Scouts to leave our program, a program designed to keep them through adulthood and reinforce the “Lifetime” of Scouting we lose as an organization.  We allow the institutional knowledge to walk out the door.. institutional knowledge of youth leadership.  We lose the succession of youth leaders passing down the unit traditions, skills, and attitudes.  We lose the ability for youth to train the next group of youth to lead their Troop.
When we let the backdoor swing wide open, we take away the opportunity for the young person to continue in the program.  With Venturing and Sea Scouts providing fantastic co ed adventures, we should be encouraging our Scouts to seek those opportunities while maintaining some level of activity with the Troop.
Our Unit started a program we call “Vertical Scouting”.. I will talk more about that later, but essentially it amounts to providing Scouting opportunities that flow through the spectrum of Scouting programs.  From age 6 to 21 the youth of our program have a vertical look at all that Scouting has to offer.  We form that in a single Scout group that allows the young Scout and his family to see what lays ahead for them in Scouting.  It sets the table for retaining Scouts for a life time of Scouting.  It removes the attitude of “Aging Out”…  it provides an opportunity for an Eagle Scout to stay in Scouts and continue to lead and make a contribution to the unit as a whole.  It introduces young women to the Scouting program and keeps teen aged young men interested in more adventures in a co ed environment.  We often joke about our Scouts getting to that age of getting the “3 G’s”  Girls, Gas, and Goofing Off… Well we know they start driving, that won’t change, doing values based activities with girls is a healthy way of growing their character, and we all know that goofing off with other Scouts is way better than most alternatives.
This program offers excellent opportunities to retain our Scouts.  And that is what our goal is.  Close the back door, start growing tomorrows Scout Adult leaders in the units they are playing the game with a purpose in now.
Think about ways you can close that backdoor in your unit.  Retain Scouts, and stop the “OUT”.
Have a Great Scouting Day!