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atomictissue

Patrol member refuses to listen to me

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I am a patrol leader in my troop, but I have a patrol member who happens to also be an ASPL. Because of this, he thinks he doesn't have to listen to me, and even tries to tell me what I need to be doing when I ask him to do a task for the patrol. I have tried sitting down with him and explaining that he does have a position of authority, but that it does not mean that he "outranks" me or does not need to listen. I don't know what to do.

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This is precisely the reason why ASPL's are not part of a patrol. This ASPL sounds like he needs to be taught about Servant leadership. My recommendation to you is to talk to your SPL about the issue. If he cannot handle the situation, the Scoutmaster should be brought in to provide some coaching.

 

Best of luck to you as a Patrol Leader!

Sentinel947

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Atom,

 

I'm sure you'll get more on this, but the bottom line is an ASPL isn't supposed to be in a patrol. The SPL, and if any ASPL, are on their own as far as the Troop organization. These positions are troop Staff positions. If this is corrected, you would no longer have this conflict in your patrol. Talk with your Scoutmaster. Have him review his "troop organizational chart" in his Scoutmaster's handbook. Or have your SPL review his "troop organizational chart" in his SPL handbook.

 

Point is, do they still have those charts? It's been a few years.............

 

sst3rd

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Welcome, Atomictissue! Excellent thread, it points to a problem common to a lot of troops.

 

First of all, I concur that the ASPL does not belong in a patrol.

 

Sentinel has it correct that this ASPL needs to learn what Servant Leadership is all about. Obviously this scout also needs to review his Scout Law (Courteous, kind, helpful, etc.) and make sure he gets at least a basic understanding of what any leadership is all about.

 

Servant leadership states that the ASPL is supposed to be assisting the PL's be successful. Obviously he missed that lesson.

 

Solution: First of all cut him loose from the patrol, and deal with the SPL whenever necessary. If the SPL is not available then talk with the ASPL.

 

The ASPL in my book should be the PL of the non-patrol member leadership, i.e. troop QM, Scribe, Chap Aide, etc.

 

When one sets up the organizational structure of a troop incorrectly, these kinds of problem will result.

 

By the way, in my troop the highest ranking officer is the PL! Everyone else assists him in helping him become successful with his patrol. If there be anyone "above" him, then the PL might as well forget leading anything, he will be undermined every step of the way. When this happens everyone sits around scratching their heads wondering what went wrong.

 

It would seem that from your original comments, you have been set up to fail by whatever system your troop is operating under. Visit directly with your SM and explain that unless you have the authority to go along with the responsibility of being a PL, that you will need to step down and have someone else put up with the hassle. One can fulfill rank advancement POR a lot better in a position that is not designed to fail. Even Den Chief is better than what you have now and I have found some of my best leaders start out as Den Chiefs and from the comments from those boys, a lot more rewarding experience.

 

Stosh

 

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... a position of authority ...

Of responsibility. There's a difference. ;)

 

Although, like Stosh, I think the SPL position is unnecessary for the average troop of 24 scouts, I am of the opposite opinion and have seen ASPL's operate without contention in their respective patrols. That said, ASPL's are servant leaders in two dimensions. They assist the SPL and perform as he directs (e.g., covers for him when he can't make a meeting or event, etc...) and they assist the PLs as they lead the troop (e.g., helps acquire gear, skilled instructors, etc ... for what ever goals a given patrol may have).

 

So, although he may camp with his "home" patrol, he -- along with the SPL -- should be routinely checking in with other patrols. How much time he devotes to this depends on how self-reliant the patrols are. With highly troop-method leadership, he might have to 'make rounds' every hour of scouting time! With patrol-method leadership and independent patrols, he might have to only do this at PLC's and via cracker-barrels.

 

So, if you're a PL in a troop with lots of patrols that aren't very independent and need lots of supervision (not because of the boys, necessarily, but because of adults who can't stand a little chaos), you're going to have to give him a little slack and maybe ask how he can contribute to the life of the patrol while still fulfilling his troop POR. If you're in a troop where patrols operate independently, and the SPL/ASPLs time commitment is limited to making rosters for which patrol has which responsibility which day, you're going to have to decide what needs to change: his attitude or your leadership style.

 

So a question you should ask yourself of any scout (regardless of the patch on his sleeve): is he an authority?

 

Let's forget about the POR, and assume this guy is senior (older, more advancement, more camping nights, general know-it-all, whatever). That is, when he proposes a different idea, would it be wise to listen to him based on what you know of his experience? This doesn't mean you accommodate him outright (unless it's an a emergency and this idea of his might spare life and limb). It does mean that you lead by bringing in the rest of the patrol and ask, "Hey, guys, I was planning on doing things one way, but Pee Wee just offered an alternative. What do you think would be the best thing to do?"

Now they might decide to stick with your plan, or they might like his. Regardless, you have no longer made it about him vs. you, but about "us". It also elevates the status of your scouts who aren't authorities, and forces them to keep thinking about what's best for the patrol.

 

This is just one way to handle this. Maybe the scout is not an authority. His idea might be sounding all-too-convenient for himself. And his suggestions about your leadership style are just plain rude and inappropriate. Well, then you might need to arrange for a conference with the SM/ASM about adjusting the attitude of one of your patrol members.

 

Note: that in either instance the patch one someone's sleeve is irrelevant. Your concern is for the good of the patrol.

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Hi Atomic. Positions of Responsibility are not the same as rank. You have the highest responsibility for all the members of your patrol, no matter their rank or job responsibilities outside your patrol. It appears that some of the scouts like your ASPL don't understand each other's duties to their job. I like the idea of approaching the SPL first and then maybe the SM to get a better definition of your responsibilities as well as the ASPL's. The three of you should have a quiet discussion intended to clear up the confusion. If after the meeting the ASPL still insist on disrespecting your leadership, then suggest to him and the SM that he chage patrols. But the most simple answer to your question is to arrange a meeting for the three of you to understand your responsibilities. Barry

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One must also remember that while rank and responsibility don't imply the same thing, the level of authority also needs to be considered.

 

It would appear that from Atomic's initial concern that it wasn't his rank was being questioned. That word has double meaning. I don't think he was referring to rank in the advancement sense because a PL can be of any rank advancement as well as the ASPL. I think he was referring to the ranking of authority given to complete his responsibility. This dynamic is what is being addressed here. While in the role of ASPL, this boy does not carry over that level of authority in the patrol so as to trump the authority of the PL as he seems to think.

 

In a servant leadership style of patrol method structure, the PL's rank/authority is foremost. He is the one delivering the program to the members of his patrol. He is the customer contact person. The SPL/ASPL team are his immediate support personnel if he should have need of their expertise. They are senior in knowledge, not in rank/authority.

 

IF, and it's a big IF, the SPL and ASPL understand this appropriately they would understand that the could never be a part of a functioning patrol because they would need to be excused frequently to assist other PL's in the troop, leaving the patrol shorthanded.

 

In order to service the patrols, the QM, Scribe and other troop officers would need to excuse themselves from patrol membership as well so as to free them up to be of assistance with any patrol having difficulty.

 

In the PLC, the SPL becomes the coordinator of information flowing from the PL's. He facilitates the cooperation between patrols, but has no authority to dictate any decisions on the PL's. He can invite and offer up opportunities for PL's to consider but if "his word rules", or his authority overrides the PL, the the PL is stripped of his authority and, I might add, his responsibility as well. If the SPL steps in and dictates, then the PL does not need to follow through because now the SPL is running that patrol and the PL is basically at that point in name only.

 

My boys are all trained whenever an adult or troop officer does this to answer, "With all due respect, it is my job to run this patrol, thank you for your suggestion, I'll take it under advisement." And then he can if he wishes, totally ignore it. It might sound a bit harsh, but it turns the troop officers and rogue ASM's into servant leaders rather quickly.

 

Stosh

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As Bill pointed out in explaining why the Scouts should pick their leader, the real answer to the question, "Who is the leader?" is "Whoever leads." As an historic example, Teddy Roosevelt was not, on paper, the commander of the regiment called the "Rough Riders." He was its leader.

 

Assuming that you are the elected leader of your patrol, it sounds like one member of the team does not want to go along with the democratic decision . The ASPL (who should not be in a patrol as noted) needs to understand his role in the team. He is not the Quarterback or Team Captain. If he cannot grasp this rather simple concept, he must go,

 

Before someone decided on the label "servant leadership," the PL was still the elected leader, not any other member of the patrol. It has been basic to the Patrol Method for generations before Greenleaf's "Servant" label got added to the Scouting vocabulary. (But the notion that the PL "took care of his Scouts" was around as early as 1954 when I was taught that lesson.

 

A final point. The patrol should decide who is in the patrol, not the SPL or some adult, A patrol is "a small group of friends," not some outsider's view of neat organization.

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TAHAWK,

 

There's always a disconnect between what we think is the leader and who really is the leader. Leadership is not something that is taught very well in today's society. We do well with management styles, but that's not leadership. We thus have to torque authority into the management dynamic to make it work and thus we see the problems we do in the troops.

 

We don't do well with group dynamics either and this is the basis for the patrol method. How does a small group members interact with each other is not something that is taught, just assumed it would happen over time. Well, once one starts mixing and matching and changing and moving around and, and, and.... there's not much continuity being built.

 

Take any 8 boys, and I mean any combination one wants. This is why I find it very easy to let the boys make that decision because it has really no impact on the process that will develop. If the boys change a bit down the road here and there is is usually not a major upset. But a forced entry of a new person, i.e. a new scout moving up out of the NSP, without the group's approval is an outside disruption that may never get resolved until the "intruder" is moved elsewhere. Ad hoc patrol at a camporee? Two different groups struggling to figure out what the other's are capable of and willing to do, while at the same time do a competition. Very frustrating to say the least. Do this often enough and the groups will adapt to chaos rather than teamwork and continuity.

 

If each person is properly trained in their functionality within the group, the group will quickly figure out their own style of leadership. This is why I like GBB's material, everyone in the patrol has a "job". Some of the modern "leadership" training programs are more generic and are designed to be more of a management tool than a leadership style development. They also train to being PL, APL, SPL, ASPL roles.

 

The personalities of the boys is irrelevant. I have had some dynamic, go-getter leaders that are very organized and effective, and yet I have also had some quiet, soft-spoken boys that do an excellent job of drawing out some of the more quiet boys in their patrol to do some great things.

 

Once the boys are formed into their patrol, trained in their area of focus, then the leadership development begins. How do they take their job responsibility and translate that through their personality into taking care of business for the patrol. To me there are specific things a leader does within the framework of the patrol.

 

1) Patrol Leader - is not really the "leader" in a sense we have come to define it, but I see it more as a Coordinator of Leaders. His job is to bring out the leadership of each member of the group as their leadership dictates. The GrubMaster is working on getting lunch ready and it appears he might be struggling. The PL, in a servant leadership position, steps forward and says, "What can I do to help?" The GrubMaster is in control of the situation and states his most immediate need to the PL who rolls up his sleeves and gets to helping. So when the next election rolls around, who's the GrubMaster going to vote for for PL? Duh!

 

2) Assistant Patrol Leader - This is not the guy that sits around waiting for the PL to be absent. He is the PL's right-hand man! If he isn't right there with the PL, constantly asking, "What can I do to help?" he is not worth anything to the patrol. So the PL says, "I'm working with the QM right now, run over and check with the GrubMaster, to see if he needs some help." That kind of tag-team leadership is vital to a good patrol.

 

3) QuarterMaster - This patrol member's #1 priority is to make sure everyone has the correct equipment at the correct time. He works with the GrubMaster to make sure all the Dutch ovens, utensils, stoves, flies, etc. are all where they need to be and up and running so the GM can work his magic with the menu and not worry about whether or not there's fuel in the stove. The QM is in charge of setting up, maintaining, and tearing down camp. The first thing the PL/APL team does when they hit camp is work with the QM to make sure they set up camp according to his directives. He also keeps track of the functionality of all equipment and puts in periodic requisitions to the troop committee for needed replacement patrol equipment.

 

4) ActivityMaster - This is the annual calendar thinker in the group. What activities are coming up that sound like fun. What's it going to take to get the boys there. Is there equipment needed so I need to tell the QM to be prepared. Float it by the PL to see what he things about it. Lock it into the calendar and make sure everything is communicated plenty ahead to no one get's left out.

 

5) Scribe - This is the paperwork/finance guy. He keeps track of what's going on in the head of the ActivityMaster and makes sure funds are there if there are any financial costs associated with it, then takes care of. He works with the QM to make sure money is available for the equipment, he works with the GrubMaster to make sure money is collected for the cost of food. He works with the Activity Master to make sure any registrations and travel expenses are covered. His records should indicate how many are going and pass that information back to the QM, GM and PL so they know what they are dealing with for the activity.

 

6) etc.

 

The list goes on through all 8 members picking up some kind of leadership opportunity. So from the brief outline above, "who's running the show?" The dictatorial, top-down management style is so inadequate for the patrol method is it kinda remarkable it is still around and being taught. It puts way too much emphasis on just one person's performance and if one realizes that 1 boy can do only so much, that means that 8 boys can do 8 times as much if given the opportunity to do so. It's also the basis for peer-leadership teamwork. Everyone at one time or another is "the leader". They function in their Position of Responsibility for the welfare of their patrol. When they are not doing their leading (by taking care of their boys), they are leading with servant leadership by asking, "What can I do to help?" This balance of leadership among patrol members is what teamwork is all about.

 

So what happens when everything is running smoothly and the SPL comes and dictates a management decree into the mix? Yes, you all decided to go to Philmont this year, but you can't because you need to be with the NSP at summer camp. Yep, all leadership bets are off and the dynamics and espirit-de-corps is disrupted. And then the adults can't figure out why the boys are hanging around to get their Eagles and then disappearing. I have no doubt in my mind why, I see it all the time. Instead, the SPL needs to be coming and doing his leadership in the correct format. He comes to the older well-established patrol and asks the ActivityMaster where the boys will be doing week-long camp this year. They say "Camp A". Then he asks the NSP PL where they will be doing week-long camp this year and he says, "Camp B". No problem, now he goes back to his troop officers and devises a plan that meets the needs of his patrols. Hey, QM the two patrols are heading to two different camps on the same week. Devise a plan for the distribution of equipment, etc.

 

Instead, what I hear from the adults is: "That's too much work to split the troop into two different groups so half the boys are going to be disappointed this summer. The new boys can't handle Camp A so everyone will be going to Camp B which means the older boys will get the chance to do the same summer camp they have been at for the past 6 years" That, my friend, is adult led. They have the authority and everyone else in the troop answers to them so everything I have said in this post is pretty much a moot point, and now you know why the older boys quit and the younger boys don't listen and the adults are frustrated they get little or no cooperation out of the boys. From the boys' perspective, it's just a lot easier to sit around and wait to be told by an adult to do something than it is to try and lead and be corrected later on down the road. Adults trumping the efforts of the boys and then telling the SPL to go tell the PL how it's going to work is not boy-led.

 

Stosh

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