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Stosh

Leadership vs. Management

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 This is what BSA doesn't understand very well because they have forgotten how to do it.

I've participated in a lot of leaders courses and many times the discussion comes up whether a non-leader (non natural leader) can be a good leader. I disagree that the BSA doesn't understand. I think they don't care, or even need to care.

 

Experts say that only three percent of the population are natural leaders. That being said, should a program encourage a leadership experience for all or most its members? The program is what it is because it gives most member and opportunity to find if they are leaders, or develop and appetite to be a a leader and pursue getting the skills. 

 

This is where I disagreed with Kudu and the Baden Powell scouts (BPS). The SM in BPS selects the patrol leader leaves him there as long as he wants. The idea is to get the natural leader and encourage his gift. First off, there are very few adults that I think can select natural leaders without bias, Kudu was a minority. Of the hundreds of scouts I have worked with, I can only think of two I would call natural leaders. So who does the SM select then? But also I think that some scouts with good leadership potential would never get a chance. I had a scout who was shy because he had a stutter problem. In no way did show any leadership qualities his first year in the troop. By the time he left the troop at 18, he was one of the leaders we ever had. 

 

I'm not sure I want the BSA to give more in the leadership area. I find the more they give, the more limits they set. Everything about scout growth is 5 percent education, 95 percent experience. That is especially true with leadership. Troops just need to get more creative in finding ways for scouts to get responsibility experiences so the scout can find himself and build confidence. The leadership requirements leads many adults away from that because they feel all leadership should lead to recognized stature instead of just building confidence. Confidence is very powerful and we try help scouts build it even with the smallest of responsibility task in the patrol. Not to much, not too little. Let the scout get a feel for it and set a direction for his experience in the troop. Works quite well.

 

Barry

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Interesting about the natural leader issue.  Any idea about how that 3% have figured out "natural" leader dynamics or is it something one is born with or is it something that can be cultivated in more than just those 3%. 

 

I for one am not surprised that the shy disabled boy turned out to be a great leader, it wasn't something he was naturally inclined to do, but figured it out along the way.  I had an Eagle scout that was homosexual that did an extremely great job at leadership but again tended to be quiet and reserved.

 

I have my "theories" as to how leadership can be coaxed out of 97% of the people and that it's the 3% who can't be leaders instead.  I think we as an organization need to accept the fact that 3% are natural leaders but that's not the end of the story, because I believe that a lot more people can develop leadership skills who didn't come by them naturally.

Edited by Stosh

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Interesting about the natural leader issue.  Any idea about how that 3% have figured out "natural" leader dynamics or is it something one is born with or is it something that can be cultivated in more than just those 3%. 

 

I for one am not surprised that the shy disabled boy turned out to be a great leader, it wasn't something he was naturally inclined to do, but figured it out along the way.  I had an Eagle scout that was homosexual that did an extremely great job at leadership but again tended to be quiet and reserved.

 

I have my "theories" as to how leadership can be coaxed out of 97% of the people and that it's the 3% who can't be leaders instead.  I think we as an organization need to accept the fact that 3% are natural leaders but that's not the end of the story, because I believe that a lot more people can develop leadership skills who didn't come by them naturally.

The 3% are born that way. You know one when you meet them. 

 

As for the other 97%, it's a matter of learning the skills that pulls ones individual nature and character to be a good leader. At the very least, scouting helps a boy learn whats to be in life. At it's best, Scouting helps a scout build the skills toward that vision.

 

Barry

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The flashy, dashing, arrogant, narcissistic football star quarterback might be viewed as a natural born leader to some on the team, but charisma is not a skill that I would consider a part of a natural born leader.  I have seen too many good leaders who have very little charisma,  yet hold enormous amount of leadership ability.

 

I think it might be helpful if one could elaborate on the "know one when you meet them".  I have never really found that measurement of character to be true, but I might be misunderstanding what is meant by it.

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What I mean by character is the unchoreographed personality or natural presence with others. Leadership is simply the act of persuading others toward change. 

 

Natural leaders have the unusual skill to persuade followers toward change with little or no purposeful actions. Even their body language can be persuasive.

 

Natural leaders aren't typically visionaries so they don't always standout outside their group. But natural leaders who are visionary can change the direction of history: Alexander the Great, Hitler, Gandhi.

 

I learned the hard way that natural leaders do not work well in controlled environments because the restriction of freedom to act on their nature frustrates them.  They flourish in true patrol method environments. Of course we all get frustrated with restricting our character or nature, but boy scouts is a supposed to encourage the actions of leadership. The problem shows up when adults are uncomfortable with scouts with ambitious visions. I'm not suggesting those adults are bad because all of us get uncomfortable with change outside our vision to some degree. It takes practice to deal with that part of us and how respond to it. It's that inner battle of pride vs humility that all us struggle with. 

 

Barry

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I think the whole boy-led verbiage is a distraction too. If a Troop is really running the Patrol method properly, they are a boy-led unit. To do anything else is utilizing patrols, but not the Patrol Method. 

 

I don't believe in leaders being "born" Leadership is a mindset, and that mindset and the skills that go with it can be taught. 

That's one of my favorite SM's minutes I've given. "Do you serve others, or do others serve you?"

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Okay, @@Eagledad, here is where we differ in our definitions of leadership and how the flow of authority in your model is different than mine.

 

My daughter and son-in-law are currently in a program of leadership development based on the model you have described.  "Leadership is simply the act of persuading others toward change."  I think that a lot of people, especially in our culture buy into this model.  The flow of authority is top down and it's the leader's vision that is sought as the goal.   It's up to the leader then to persuade others to get on board with his vision. I'm thinking the BSA might be using this model because it goes hand-in-hand with and doesn't conflict with management tactics.  Both authority and responsibility flow from vision originating "at the top".  Marketing is the classic example of this in the business environment.  I have a product and it is up to me to persuade you to see what I see as to how good it would be for you to buy it.  So according to the definition you provided, the a act of persuading others towards change, but my question always comes up as to change to what?  That which benefits the leader or that which the leader believes benefits those being persuaded?  Visionary leaders?  Who's vision are we talking about here?  With the examples of Alexander, Hitler, et al, I'm thinking it's the leader's vision that overrides and controls the persuasion.

 

So, as one who has been accused of being the BSA Gnostic heretic :),  I see leadership totally different.  I order to facilitate my kind of leadership I have turned the BSA business model organizational chart upside down and that causes the flow of authority and responsibility to flow the opposite direction.  It is at that point people plug their ears and start saying,  "Na, na, na, na,.." over and over again.

 

Let's assume that all authority and responsibility at the top of the chart.  BSA model puts that with the adults, with SPL slipped in as the top dog of the lower boy end of the spectrum.  It's up to th adults to persuade the SPL to buy into their vision, and then SPL persuades the PL's to buy into that vision, and the PL's are then responsible to persuade the members of his patrol. I may be a bit off, but this is what I'm understanding of how you define leadership.  Please clarify if I'm off base.

 

Well, what happens if the members of the patrol don't like that vision?  What if the members just want adventure and fun?  Maybe they just want to go of in the woods and goof off with their buddies?  What if it doesn't fit into the adult vision that I get to stay with my pals that I came here to have fun with?  What happens if there is ANY disconnect between the vision prescribed by the adults and what I as a paying member of the group wants?

 

This leads to my upside-down definition.  What if all the authority and responsibility flowed from the paying customer, the individual scout?  He walks through the door with the vision of fun and adventure with his buddies.  Okay a boy walks up to the little group of buddies and simply asks, "So, guys, what do you want to do?"  To which he gets the answer, "Well, this brochure says this is where the fun and adventure is supposed to happen."  So the scout say, "Who's going to be your leader?" And the boys all laugh and say, "You are because we came to have fun and adventure and if there's any work to be done, you get to do it."  To which the boy says, "Great, I can make that happen for you." 

 

So now the PL knows the vision of his members, and they have given him full authority to fulfill that vision of theirs.  He has to persuade no one to do anything beyond his control, because he only needs to control himself.  He has sworn an oath that he's going to do his best to do his duty to God and Country and to help other people at all times.  Well, here's his chance to help these 7 boys fulfill their vision.

 

So in terms of retention, who's got the better chance of keeping new boys in the program, the one who has to rely on persuasive skills to win over everyone, or the boy who only has to take care of them getting the vision they have asked for?

 

So as time passes, the boys realize that in order to stay with this program I have to start doing a lot of things that weren't in the brochure that are popping up all over the place.  Hoops I have to jump through to get credit for things just like in school.  Forget it, I signed on for my dream, not some one else's.  But the other boys begin to realize that now I have someone that's going to take care of me while I have fun.  It's a lot more fun to sleep outdoors in a tent, and my leader made sure we all had tents, and he made sure we all got fed, and he worked hard on making sure we all had fun.... and he's a really nice guy for doing all those things.  He made MY vision work for me.  That was neat how he did it and he seemed to really have fun doing it too.  What does he know that I don't know about having fun?  I wonder what his vision is in all this, maybe we ought to ask.

 

I guess over the past 40 years, that model has worked well for me.  Far less complicated, far less training needed, and the satisfaction level (fulfillment of vision) is easier to obtain.  It is a concept easily understood by boys without any fancy persuasive techniques and strategies they have to learn. 

 

The only management skills a boy would need to know under my definition of leadership is what it would take to make ti work for the boys he is leading.

 

I'm thinking this difference in definitions is the root of where we are coming from when talking about the boy led, patrol method stuff.  Knowing your definition really helps in understanding where you're coming from.  Thanks for the clarity.

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I think the whole boy-led verbiage is a distraction too. If a Troop is really running the Patrol method properly, they are a boy-led unit. To do anything else is utilizing patrols, but not the Patrol Method. 

 

I don't believe in leaders being "born" Leadership is a mindset, and that mindset and the skills that go with it can be taught. 

 

That's one of my favorite SM's minutes I've given. "Do you serve others, or do others serve you?"

Servant leadership is one style of leadership, it is not the definition of leadership. Of course we in scouting teach servant leadership as the preferred method because it fits within the boundaries of the Scout Oath and Law. Living the Scout Oath and Law is living as a servant because the action of the Law are outward actions toward others. That is why I describe scouting as boy run, not boy led. You don't have to lead to live the servant lifestyle of the Scout Law.

 

As I said, leadership is simply the actions to persuade others to follow change. It is that simple. That can be done a number of different ways other than servant leadership. The military used a directive style of leadership because they require an instant response of obediance to perform efficiently.

 

But we tend to make leadership a high level of importance because it is at the top of the stature of recognition. We all know that most big accomplishments can't be met without a whole team. Yet, the "Leader" is given credit for one of the skills in that team. Why? Because since the beginning of time, stature is how adults rank themselves among their peers. But I believe good followship requires greater skills than leadership. The bible say pride is the main cause of folly. Humility is the cure. Leadership within the bounds of the Scout Law is expression of humility.

 

I can't change your mind about natural leaders, but I will say that you likely haven't met one. My sister and I had the same discussion once and my answer to her was not believing in natural leaders is like not believing in natural athletes and everyone should be able to run a 4 minute mile for 27 miles. Call them freaks of nature if you want, but they are out there. A natural leader scout can teach adults a lot because they push adults pride to their limits. I can honestly say I was a better SM with the natural leader in our troop. I failed him and I changed as a result.

 

Barry

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I didn't say anything about authority stosh. I said persuaded change. Don't pull in all these other stipulations to define a simple outward act. Throwing a ball is one simple act. Making a decision is one simple act. influencing others to follow change is just one simple act. Some can do  it, some can't. I don't know why, but I can't throw a ball. But I have vision and sway change as a result.

 

Authority can influence change simply by having authority, but influencing change doesn't require authority. Gandhi or Hitler did not start out with authority. An example with a Scout: At summer camp in Colorado a scout caught a trout and took it back alive to his patrol. Another member of the patrol said lets eat it. The camp is a mess hall style camp and we where due to eat supper in one hour. That one scout led the patrol to process the trout, find cooking equipment, find oil, and whatever else they needed to cook the trout and had it eaten in 45 minutes. He never acted as the leader, never asked if anyone like the idea, he just took off and got everyone working together to cook and eat that trout. Not one of those patrol members had ever cleaned or cooked a fish before. That is the simple act of persuading others to follow.

 

Another way I stumbled on finding leaders of the group is high intensity patrol competition. Before the restrictions, our troop played laser tag. Each battle is something like 5 minutes in a small room with obsticles, so the team has to come up with a plan quick for the team to survive and wine. Two styles of leadership (persuasion) instantly appear, the member with experience and the member with a vision or plan. Exciting to watch.

 

We try to achieve the same thing with patrol competitions in scouting activities, but the results are much slower because the time for  performance is much slower. Personally the next fastest way to see leaders pop out of groups are High Adventure treks. Time is one motivator of leadership, stress is another. High adventure treks push the comfort zones of most participants and that is when the leaders of persuasion pop out. That is not always good, sometimes the team is too humble and follow the wrong direction.

 

Getting back to your authority influence on persuasion, the main problem adults have with boy run is that boys automatically assume the authority of adult stature. Adults have been the persuader all of a boy's personal life, it is hard for them to change that idea in their head. It's a hard concept to change even when the adults are willing.

 

Barry

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A natural leader (yes, I have run into many of them over the years) is one who has figured out how leadership works before they are taught.  It appears they have been born that way, but in fact learn it at an early age by parents and teachers who are in fact leaders themselves.  Once they emulate these people and receive the desired results of their efforts, they simply tend to repeat the process learned.

 

Once one gets beyond the lip service and negativity of it's improper implementation, one can appreciate that it is far more than just one of many leadership styles.

 

Leadership as been described as those receiving the top accolades and being at the top, winning, setting the example is also a recognition of power, another form of self-acquired importance and narcissism  Hitler, and a few of the Caesars fell prey to such "leadership" and were. for the welfare of others, ultimately destroyed for it.  They surely weren't in it for the welfare of others, just themselves.

 

True leadership is a result of people willingly giving up authority and responsibility to another.  They don't do it because they will be punished if they don't (military, employment).  They don't do it because they have been fooled, conned or persuaded (power).  They do it because they believe in and trust the person as someone who they have concluded on their own as worth it.

 

True leadership is given by the people following.  If the military general all of a sudden realizes his army has abandoned him, he hasn't been much of a leader.  If the people conned/persuaded change their minds, the person hasn't been much of a leader.  But who's going to quit following someone who's there to take care of them and make them successful in life?  That person might not be "defined" by society as a leader, but it's the person everyone wants to follow anyway

 

It was mentioned that the military uses the directive style of leadership but if one were to break it down precisely into it's individual components, one will quickly discover it is really just highly refined and extremely rigid management objectives.  The military has a target and all subordinates are forced under penalty of punishment to acquire it's objective/goal.  At it's best it is super-refined following, not leadership.  One deviates from the directive order, that person will be held accountable and punished if the goal is jeopardized.  I see no real leadership where people follow leaders, they only follow orders.

 

So does one follow those they have been told to follow, ordered to follow, conned to follow or do they genuinely follow those they want to follow.    I'm going with genuinely want to follow as the best guess.

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Sorry about the confusion on the responsibility/authority issue.  They go hand in hand and is one of the major problems in a lot of troops that hold back the boy-led, patrol-method processes.

 

First of all you have been tasked with responsibility to driving a load of straw over the bridge to a farmer on the other side of the river.  That's all well and good, but what if you don't have the authority to drive, or authority to use the truck or authority to cross the river?  Pretty much screwed right from the git-go.

 

If the authority resides in adults as you allude to, or at least assumed by the boys do so, it's going to be pretty difficult for any youth to do anything.  But if the adults give total authority to the boys to fulfill their responsibility, then we're talking a whole new foreign concept to the boys that opens up any and all opportunities for them to work with.  This is the big stumbling block for a lot of units that tend to think they are boy led, but with no authority, they can't lead anything at all.  I have difficulty with my boys at the beginning because of this assumption that the authority lies with the SM.  Once I make it clear that they have the authority and responsibility to run the unit, things change quickly as long as I don't ruin their trust in me by puling the rug out from under them.

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A natural leader (yes, I have run into many of them over the years) is one who has figured out how leadership works before they are taught.  It appears they have been born that way, but in fact learn it at an early age by parents and teachers who are in fact leaders themselves.  Once they emulate these people and receive the desired results of their efforts, they simply tend to repeat the process learned.

 

No, if that is what you think of natural leadership, then you haven't met one. Don't confuse expertly using learned skills with being born with the skill. Many times natural leaders don't even know they do it.

 

I'm not sure why some folks can't accept the idea that a person can be born with natural skills of persuasion. As I told my sister, we accept that idea and an Olympic athlete was born with an unusual skill or that a person can have a genius level of intelligence. Is a natural leader really a reach. And what does it matter, it doesn't change the concepts of leadership. And hey, it's not a theory, I learned it in professional leadership training courses from real experts. 

 

Barry

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Talking about what a leader is or does still seems a bit murky.

 

I've seen scouts with lots of charisma (other scouts just want to be with them) but their only vision is to get scouts to follow them in a social setting. I've kept in touch with a few and they still haven't grown up. I tried hard to get them to use their talents for doing something besides screwing around but it didn't work. What I have also seen are people with a passion for something. Some scouts want to organize fun campouts or campfires. That leads to confidence, and people tend to follow. I have a scout in my troop that has some minor speech impediment. He's shy about it but he tries hard enough that everyone respects him and follows him. It has nothing to do with charisma but everything to do with desire and humility.

 

I still disagree with the idea that a leader should only do as told from below. One example is the SM that's trying to change his troop to be more boy led. Some parents and scouts won't like change no matter what. Does that mean the SM should never change anything? Waiting for everyone to come to complete agreement is called design by committee. Maybe that's why the BSA can't get behind boy lead, there are too many bubbles in Texas that can't agree on it. I agree that going it alone is risky and getting enough people to agree is important, but it's rarely the case that everyone agrees on everything. With a vision and a passion for getting something done, real leaders make things happen and disagreements are part of it.

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@@Stosh

 

In the case of my unit. Moving towards the Patrol method. I had to persuade the Scouts, and the other adults. I had a vision of what the Troop should be like. There was no clamor of change from the Scouts. But I knew it was the right direction, and while there was skepticism from those above and below me on the organizational chart. I continued to make the case. As a 20 year old ASM at the time, the only power I had was the power to to persuade. 

@@Eagledad, I agree some people have higher emotional intelligence than others, and that makes them more effective at persuasion. There are a lot more traits and skills a leader must have besides the ability to persuade others. Also, I didn't mention servant leadership in my post. I'm not sure if I'd agree that it's a leadership style. It's more of a mindset. A set of parameters that a leader judges their decisions against. A leadership style is more personality based. At least from my understanding, but it's been a couple of years since I took the leadership psychology classes in college. 

 

All: I think authority and influence flow from a variety of sources. It's a little too simplistic to say it flows top down, or bottom up, because these things depend on the situation. 

Leaders can have tons of authority, and no influence, and be utterly ineffective because nobody will follow them. Leaders can have very little authority, and very strong influence, and still be constrained by the system they are operating in. (the thing they want to do is not allowed.)

Just my rambling thoughts.

 

Sentinel947 
 

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I pretty much agree with your whole post Matt. We spend a lot of time on leadership and almost none on vision. A team without vision is like a ship without a rudder. I'm one of a few who liked 21st Centry Woodbadge because it taught setting a vision followed building a team to reach the vision. I think vision is where adults have to start and most have none.

 

I'm not sure exactly what you mean waiting for permission from bellow. That wasn't my style, so I don't have much experience there.

 

Barry

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