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Leadership lessons from Scouting

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  • Leadership lessons from Scouting

    I began a new job a few months ago, stepping into project and personnel management after five years as a worker bee. It's my second stint as a manager, so not unfamiliar territory. But after using some mental muscles that hadn't been exercised in a while, I've come to recently realized how many of those muscles were developed in Scouting.

    >> From my time in the OA, I learned how to work with people much wiser and more experienced than I was, solicit their opinions and gain their wisdom. (And occasionally make decisions that they didn't like and stick to them in the face of opposition.)

    >> As a lodge service vice-chief, I learned how to plan and execute projects simultaneously, make instant decisions and the importance of having a Plan C, D and E.

    >> From my time on summer camp staff, I learned the value of good training and teaching and how to hold someone's interest on a boring-but-important topic.

    >> As a camp area director, I learned the importance of setting the example - doing the grunt work alongside your staff, spending siestas in the area and practicing one's own skills daily.

    >> I also learned to take care of oneself emotionally and physically. If you're behind on sleep and not eating well, your performance suffers.

    >> From my time as a patrol leader, I learned how to estimate resources and budget properly. (If you have eight hungry boys, buying 10 hot dogs will create a near-mutiny.)

    >> I also learned that you can't be everything to everyone. My first SM promised the parents of a Scout with serious developmental disabilities that he would be well taken care of in the troop. When he was placed in my patrol without any guidance given to me, I realized that the SM had grossly overestimated the troop's abilities in an attempt to try to make everyone happy. (I was 11, and the failure was apparent even then.)

    I cringe every time I hear a suit from Irving talk about "building leadership." I don't think leadership is something that can be easily taught in a conventional educational sense. But there are some practical lessons you do pick up along the way. These are mine. What are yours?

  • #2
    In the "Real World" I've been around a bit.
    Starting off teaching English History at what here in the States would be at the high school level.
    I found out fairly quickly that my love of English History wasn't shared by the kids I was trying to teach. Went back to school and became a chef. Found out I was good at it. Cooked for a few very important people, worked in some of the better hotels in London, then went on to become an area manager for a big food service company, moved to the USA. Worked for a while then bought one then two restaurants of my own. Went back to school and became a Registered Dietitian. Thought I'd try and retire but got very bored so went back to work for the department of Corrections as an instructor and member of the Hostage Negotiation Team. (A job I really love.)
    I think I first learned to cook as a Scout.
    I also think Scouts and Scouting gave me lots of opportunities to care and work with others.
    As a Scout I seen both good and bad communication at work.
    While of course parents, school, friends and a lot of other things went into making me the person that I am today.
    I do however like to think that my trying to live the oath and the law has helped me a lot.


    • #3


      • #4
        Short, I don't think I can add to your eloquent post, but will piggyback on something you mentioned....

        I learned many positive things as a PL and SPL, but I also learned how to fail. Every aspect of failure. Including how to take it gracefully, review the game tape, and work like the dickens to prevent it from happening again in the future. Invaluable.

        "Building leaders:" looking back, you can see boy-led activities such as running the weekly troop meeting as an SPL, or being a new PL on a campout, were the ultimate leadership labs.

        Leadership can't be taught via sterile powerpoint slide shows and "team buiding" exercises in the camp mess hall. It happens on the trail, in the patrol camp site, at the troop