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  • Leadership issues

    Howdy y'all. our troop suddenly had our youth double from 12 to 24 from bridging in the past 2 weeks, and our current arrangement is not working. I am the only high schooler in the bunch, and finished my year as SPL this past September. we had an interim SPL from September to his 18th birthday in November, and in November the scouts elected an 8th grader to be SPL. we have worked with him for the past 4-5 months to try and develop some sense of responsibility and interest in the job, but he just has none, he won't talk on the telephone, accept blame for mistakes, he just sits around and talks with the one or two people like him, it ends up our (fairly controlling/bossy) ASPL does most of the "leading" on trips. Me and the ASM's have all met with the SPL multiple times to try and get him to take some initiative, but we eventually end up just doing it ourselves. with the sudden influx of new scouts, we no longer feel it is right to let them keep failing and letting it ruin the program. There are a few boys who would do a better job, and our current dilemma is whether to allow him to continue as SPL until he learns what it is about, and "gets it" or have elections now and hope they vote in a more competent choice? sorry for the long drawn out question...(This message has been edited by ejkelehan)(This message has been edited by ejkelehan)

  • #2
    Great question. Keep in mind that even though it's messy, your fellow scouts our learning the importance of electing good, not merely popular, leaders. If your SPLs had 6th month terms, then maybe you could ride this one out. otherwise admit that this is going to be a tough 8 more months.

    Secondly, do you have good PL's in place? If so they can muddle through quite well without a strong SPL. Help them by providing Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops course. Encourage individual patrol activities. Mabye have individual patrols rotate who opens and who closes meetings by signing up on a roster themselves instead s. Ask the adults to support patrol outings.

    If everyone sticks around, you should have three patrols. The only real question is should the crossovers be in a new scout patrol with someone such as you as their guide? Get them through the basics and find out if they want to elect their own patrol leader or merge into your existing patrols.

    Finally, if you think this is truly insufferable ask the SPL to resign and run again next September when he thinks he's more prepared to do the job. Have a conference with the SM so he is clear on your position. Maybe he can have a word with the boys parents to help turn things around. If they buy in, a lot can happen in a few months time.


    • #3
      i guess to make things more clear for anyone else who posts, i am 17.5, an eagle, and currently jasm/qtmstr/instructor/basically treated as an ASM. we have strong PL's, and I am trying to encourage patrol based trips that stress teamwork; i.e. backpacking, High adventure, and as an aside, we are scheduled for philmont in 2013. since minus the leader ship, SPL, ASPL, and me, we have 20 boys, we are leaning towards 2 patrols of 10, otherwise, we have 3 of 6, and that's not practical for trips & all boys but the new scouts would be a PL/APL. we are planning a SM/ASM meeting ASAP to address some of the issues and other ones as well. I guess, we are at a fork in the road, the patrols work and function well together, the new scouts are learning skills, but we are trying to light a fire under the SPL's behind. because right now it becomes the SM and ASM's doing the grunt work for the meeting. suggestions for lighting the proverbial fire?


      • #4
        Again, here's why I differ from the BSA "policy".

        SPL should be elected from the PL's. If he is to be the SENIOR PL, and working in the patrol method with them, they should be the ones who select him.

        If the SPL is running the troop using the troop method, then this is always the possible result of what one asks for.

        Just my thoughts.



        • #5
          i like that idea alot, I believe the only reason the current SPL was elected was due to only having 6-7th grade scouts, not the 8th graders that are his age present at the election, not sure why that happened... who liked the choice because he had never made them do KP, pick up trash, etc. the idea of having the leadership corp select the Leader, but I think opening it to the APL's as well would be acceptable due to only having 2 patrols, that gives us 7 voters, including myself. ill bring that up to the SM tonight.(This message has been edited by ejkelehan)


          • #6
            Yah, with only 2 patrols, I'm not sure yeh need an SPL, eh? How hard is it for two people to coordinate with each other? If the do-nothing SPL and the active ASPL were both Patrol Leaders, the difference between the performance of the two patrols would become obvious to everyone and the first patrol would make a change (or the Patrol Leader would get with it... lots easier to be competitive than it is to be "talked to" by lots of adults).

            I also agree with jblake. The SPL is a coordination role, and the people who are in the best position to evaluate a boy for taking on such a role are his fellows on the PLC, who have seen how well he has organized and coordinated and know what it takes. Havin' the random general scout pick often doesn't work out very well. If the boy is from another patrol, how's a first- or second-year lad supposed to make an informed decision? How good a speech he gives?

            No need for an SPL until yeh get to 3 or 4 patrols.



            • #7
              A few comments.

              1) Why don't you be SPL, train the younger PLs yourself, and provide leadership?

              2) While an SPL may not be needed, I'd recommend it anyway so that the SPL can mentor and guide the PLs, esp. if they are relatively new. Also can help plan troop events. But that is my opinion.

              3)If you do #1 I'd get a copy of the 3rd ed. SM HB, both volumes, as well as some of the current leader training, and have a series of camp outs using them.

              Good luck.


              • #8
                I like your suggestion about mentoring PL's. My personal preference would be for a JASM to provide that mentoring.


                • #9
                  With two patrols, I agree with Beavah on the need for SPL. Unless there is a functional use for a POR I don't see much value in it except to push people through the advancement process without having to do much real leadership.

                  To wrap your mind around the idea. One patrol - Well, that's clear cut he's the PL not the SPL. Duh!

                  Two patrols? 2 PL's discuss it out and it's no big deal. So what does the SPL do? Referee? I don't think so.

                  3+ patrols? Now I can see some actual functioning necessary for the SPL and would think it appropriate.

                  JASM? - This is a prestige patch at best. Most of the time it signifies an Eagle scout who happens to get his Eagle before he turns 18, needs no more POR and yet doesn't want to go back and work with the boys. 99% of the time their position of responsibility is sitting on a chair and keeping it warm. For me it's an honorary "title" with no honor connected to it.

                  If I saw two Eagles standing next to each other and one Eagle had JASM on his sleeve and the other DC, I'll take the DC Eagle any time when it comes to actually doing leadership.

                  These leadership patches are terribly mis-defined. They indicate Position of Responsibility, not leadership functionality. We like to think it's leadership, but it's not. Dictating SM requirements to the masses is not the SPL's leadership, it's merely followingship. If the boys don't listen, it's called bullying to get the job done. It's my responsibility that this task gets done, and by Jove, you're going to do it or else. I've seen this way too often in troops.

                  So what then is the leadership of the SPL? I always look at him (in the patrol method troops) as the TG for PL's. So should there be elections with the PLC selecting the SPL? Nope, the SPL should be the one that the PL's want to mentor them, whoever that might be. They will follow only those they want to follow and find value in that process. That boy the PL's want to follow should be in that SPL position for as long as the PL's want him to be there. That may be 1 month if they think they goofed in picking him, or he might be in there for a couple of years if he's really good at helping PL's do their leadership in the patrols.

                  If one has an SPL that the PL's like and the patrols have a PL they like, why would anyone want to rock the boat in the middle of the stream with an election? Oh, yeah, someone who doesn't want to work very hard needs POR advancement. Well, that's not a good enough excuse for me. Dens are always looking for DC's, and when was the last time a troop had a functional bugler? Get out and roll up your sleeves and quit looking for the plum job of telling everyone else what to do.



                  • #10
                    Well, the scoutmaster handbook says "Each time Scouts are formed into a new group, whether it is a new patrol or a patrol leaders' council, the Scoutmaster must evaluate the skills, abilities, and morale level of the newly formed group, then provide direction, coaching, and support based on that evaluation."

                    So where is this guy? Any coaching going on? any direction provided? Why has ejkelehan and his ASM's had to meet with this SPL? Maybe someone evaluating, coaching, and directing could implant some vision into the kid, or convince him to step down and let the ASPL take his place, since it sounds like the ASPL is doing the work anyway.

                    Part of the problem described is choosing the candidates for a leadership position. Two ideas I have heard may be helpful. The first is that the troop chooses the ASPL, who will then be trained by the SPL so that he can succeed him at the next election cycle, when a new ASPL will be choosen.

                    The second idea is this. PLs are chosen by the patrols. When it comes time to elect an SPL, the list of candidates comes from the PLs who have done their jobs for at least 2 months. That way the whole troop can choose between two experienced leaders.

                    You still need someone at the helm. The process is not well defined in the scouting literature, so that units can explore methods that may work for them.


                    • #11
                      I guess I will try and clarify some more, the main leaders involved are The SM, who is ~27y.o. perfect fit for the job, and works quite hard at it, 2 ASM's, the former SM, who is fairly commanding, and while he has lots of input, not all of it is the is the direction we want the troop to move. the other is ~25, has a hard time making it to trips, but held the troop together for 5-6 years while I was a youth, and we went through 3 SM's, and me, ~17, Instructor,guide,qt-master, etc. We have many other issues, including Parents who are stuck in cub scout mode, but have to come on trips because we need adults. a committee that has its collective thoughts in a jumble. (all but 1 member is a parent of current 13 y.o. leadership corp) frankly, 2 patrols and No SPL sounds like a good plan. The current patrol leaders are functioning great without really any SPL input. and the ASPL really just does what daddy tells him to (i.e. really pushing we should have 3 patrols of 6, to include making the patrols, and picking PL's (we've had some luck weaning them away)but his dad is also advancement chair, and ha a lot of voice at committee meetings. in response to Allangr, the current SPL just dosent listen, despite multiple Conferences with the SM, Me, and The ASM's, he just dosent care...


                      • #12
                        Have to agree with the above statement of WHere's the SM?? His job is to Mentor and Coach the SPL. The SPL will rely more on the SM the younger or less experienced he is. YOur troop now has 24 Scouts. SOunds like three patrols to me. And with Three patrols there should be an SPL. The Scouts should all have a vote. If they mess up then they will learn quick. What I have seen with my troop is the Scout that has stepped up the most the year before will be known better and trusted more by all of the scouts. I would cut the periods of Leadership Positions to 6 months. Have the SM do his job, and before a Scout runs for any position he should not only know what it entails, but what will be the result if he doesn't make results. Example 75% of the meetings and outings, or NO Advancement for leadership to be signed off. We at this time have a Very good SPL, but school time, parents are taking their toll of the fella, and he is now more in the back ground, but the ASPL is picking up the job and doing well. Not his fault, his parents want something else for him, and they changed in the middle of the game. But he's only serving a 6 month stint, so he can decide not to run again. But we adults are helping the ASPL to do his job, we stand back, and mentor him. I think that only the PLC voting in the SPL isn't a bad idea, but I feel it isn't as democratic as I'd like. I think the boys voting will figure it out. If they make a mistake with a boy, the next time it'll be different. You should be talking to the SM/ASMs about the problem..


                        • #13
                          In my opinion, in regards to the original question, I think that in the short term your troop should organize a PLC leadership retreat into the woods to hash out the issues. It's one thing for the SM, ASM, etc. to talk to him but it's another to have their leadership peers talk to the SPL. Really there should be an airing, among the boys, including the JASM about what they see as a problem and how the SPL is effecting each of the other leaders in doing their jobs and come out with some concrete expectations. And this discussion needs to be done away from the adults.

                          The goal is not to brow beat the SPL into quitting, but to give him an opportunity to learn and improve.


                          • #14
                            the ASPL really just does what daddy tells him to ... but his dad is also advancement chair, and ha a lot of voice at committee meetings ...

                            It's a bad day when an ASM or JASM is worrying about the Byzantine machinations of the committee. You do know that some troops give their SPL a seat at the committee? More than anything, this is so the boys get an idea of what the committee will or will not push for. At the least, you should have access to the committee meeting minutes so that you can know that those folks are focusing on how to support you in playing the game, not how to make change the way you play it.

                            Many times, my role as ASM on the committee was to say "This is how the boys want to operate. The SM supports it. You should too." And, yes, that included the times when the SPL they chose we more popular than capable.


                            • #15
                              has this new SPL been thru the council's leadership training? He may remain clueless until then.