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$7,700,000,000,000 Leadership Skills Bailout

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The guilty dog barks the loudest.


You can't rack up 7.7 trillion dollars in gambling debts (or drive 2.2 million Boy Scouts out of the BSA) without bashing skeptics who reject "innovation" as a moral absolute.

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I don't know if I would describe WB as a leadership development program in that I would call it a management development program. When I took WB (pre-2000) it was touted as a management program and that businesses around the country would send their personnel to it for the enrichment of their business programs. I find nothing wrong with a program being well run under the principles of good management. Nothing gets done without it being managed well.


However, with that being said, how much leadership is designed into the program? Who gets out in front and leads and who stays behind and manages what is necessary to follow such a leader?


We expect our boys to be good managers of the necessary tasks they are called upon to fulfill. Whether it be a scribe filling out papers he is responsible for, keeping track of troop equipment he is responsible for, or whatever task they are responsible for it makes very little difference if the job gets done. He gets credit for fulfilling his responsibility. But where are the leaders? How does one teach a boy to challenge his buddies up to the next step and do something beyond the minimum expectations of just getting the job done?


Who do the boys really follow and how is that defined as a task? I really don't think it can be done. I have seen some fantastic leadership coming from the boys, but it tends to be more of a natural leadership development rather than something they were taught out of a book.


I know that there are techniques that can be taught to guide boys into leadership, but I don't see any of that built into the curriculum of any of the BSA literature under the category of leadership development. I even had one boy explicitly state that he learned more about leadership under my mentoring than he did in NYLT and WB combined. He went from the troop's biggest bully to one to emulate in a mere three years. Another boy had all his Eagle requirements fulfilled and made application for his Eagle. Contrary to National's requirements, the Council insisted it would not be accepted without a letter of recommendation from the SM. I wasn't convinced he was showing any leadership. When he confronted me about it, along with his parents, I told him he had 6 months to show leadership and prove he was qualified in that area. All of this was off the books, but I held my ground. His dad (an Eagle Scout with three palms himself) agreed with me. I stripped the boy of all POR patches and responsibilities and said, "Now go and lead." It took him a whole week to get over being stunned and then pitched in became the #1 mentor to the SPL, worked with the TG with the new boys, checked over the work and gave guidance to the QM, and basically involved himself into being the #1 cheerleader for the troop. He ended up doing more than the ASM's in the troop to inspire and motivate the other boys in a variety of different areas. He became a real leader. There was nothing in the book for this boy to go on, but he figured it out when all the other trappings and expectations/distractions were removed.


At the ECOH's the first boy told me he had every expectation of presenting his mentor pin to his father who had been with him every step of the way through Scouting from Tiger until I took over when he was 15 years old. The second boy always talked about being able to pin the mentor on his Eagle w/palms dad, but I was called up to receive both pins.


Management is easy to teach, it's a skill, a technique, a series of steps that one simply has to follow to get the job done, but leadership is an attitude, and there very little one can do to create a check box to check off for it. If management is the goal, one can always stop once the task gets done, but leadership requires that little extra that sets one apart from the rest of the managers.


I would dearly love a true leadership program developed for the BSA, but with the current attitudes towards goal achievement and task management, I don't see that happening any time soon. Does that mean I'm bashing WB-2000? No, I'm just hoping someday it becomes more than just a good management program.





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As politically incorrect as it may seem, not all Scouts are good leaders. No amount of book-learning is going to make all Scouts good leaders. Intelligence, charisma, wisdom and self-confidence are not 101 through 600 level courses that you check off on your way to being a good leader.




OTOH, most all Scouts can be good citizens. If we switch the focus from leadership back to citizenship, we could do a lot of good. And leadership would get covered in the process because among the things good citizenship requires are:


1 - lead when you're the right person to lead

2 - follow when you're the right person to follow

3 - (perhaps most imporant) know how to tell a good leader from a bad one.


I'm sure I can say we could use more voters with skill #3 without veering into I&P territory...


Anyway, management theory classes make a great addition to a focus on citizenship and Patrol Method leadership. But it's not a replacement.




Does anyone know of a skeptical analysis of Leadership Development theory that links concepts like "innovation," "thinking outside the box," and "group development" theory with magical thinking and the recent 7.7 trillion dollar bailout?


Apparently the answer is "No."


There's a growing backlash against MBA programs that's going on a decade now. Not sure if it really fits with Leadership Development, but I think many of the problems are similar. Too theoretical, devalues skills that can't be taught in classrooms, faddish, develops questionable ethics, etc.


A quick spin with Bing didn't turn up any documents, but you can look for a paper by Profs Jeffrey Pfeffer and Christina Fong, or one from Henry Mintzberg of McGill University.


Of course the people criticizing are still voices in the wilderness, but the voices are getting louder.

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JMHawkins writes:


A quick spin with Bing didn't turn up any documents, but you can look for a paper by Profs Jeffrey Pfeffer and Christina Fong, or one from Henry Mintzberg of McGill University.


Thanks for the leads! :)


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