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ChristianDad

Asking an SPL to Resign?

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The SM says the issue for him is the message it sends to future SPL's. 

 

It just seems wrong and destructive to even think about scheduling elections just because of this.  Even asking a scout to resign is just too far..  Sometimes adult leaders try to make improvements and it's at the cost of scouts.  That's what I'm seeing here.  

 

Read the Guide To Advancement relevant sections and maybe even a few Advancement News articles.  It's always good to read the official BSA guidance as it's carefully worded.  

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I think that he's being foolish. He reminds me of the sports coaches and band directors in my town that demand the boys make all of the practices, games, retreats all season AND offseason, or they will be benchwarmers. 

I've been thinking this way as well. It seems that no matter how hard we try, the world ends up rotating around us.

 

 

It just seems wrong and destructive to even think about scheduling elections just because of this.  Even asking a scout to resign is just too far..  Sometimes adult leaders try to make improvements and it's at the cost of scouts.  That's what I'm seeing here.  

 

 

And yet it happens so often. I received many calls in the evening from Scoutmasters asking me how to remove scouts from their PORs. It is so disheartening when adults see bad decisions as bad scouting. I tried so hard to teach otherwise in Scoutmasters Specific courses, but vanity blinds us from the noble objective.

 

Barry

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I understand the SM wanting to have his SPL there, but I am not on board with removing him. I think that sends the wrong message more than the SPL not being there.

 

If they scouts see a good SPL that is active and doing the job, and he is removed, then what message does that send?

 

What do the other scouts think about the SPL's performance? Have there been issues in their minds? Do they support him? Could be that the SM is reflecting reflecting the youth's concerns, though I don't think he is handling it right if he is.

 

Also, it does not seem very boy-led. In the end, the SM may need to remove leader that is failing in his job, but that should be an absolute least recourse. And it should have been proceeded with a great deal of mentoring before it ever came to that. And frankly, sometimes you have to let the boys fail, as long as it isn't endangering their safety or violating BSA policy.

 

Some other thoughts.

  • If you son has taken ILST or NYLT (or the Scoutmaster has taken Wood Badge) then he knows that the SPL cannot do it alone. There is a balloon game in ILST (Role Balancing - Ballon Toss) that demonstrates that delegating is not only an option, but is an necessity for a well run troop.
  • The Oath and Law applies to adults also. The SM might want to examine his stance in that light.
  • Is missing either of these events really going to change much? Will missing a scouting event have a negative impact on an otherwise good scouting experience? Will missing one church event, cause him not to move closer to God? I am just not sure either of these events warrants putting extra weight on a young man that knows he is losing his mother. It seems like everyone involved could find a compromise or satisfactory solution.
  • I have read what you want, what the SM wants, but no where have I seen you state what your son wants.
  • Knowing what he really wants may be a hard thing for you, and even him, to truly know. I lost both parents as a teen. My mother suddenly in my early teens, my father, in my late teens, after a long fight with cancer. Anything he asked of me trumped anything else, because I knew I wouldn't have him much longer. My father rarely asked me do do things, because he knew where my head was, in that I wanted to make him happy, and he didn't want to put that burden on me. My problem was, if I even suspected there was something my father wanted me to do, I made sure i did it.  I have zero regrets mind you, but your son is in a place that he probably isn't thinking about what he wants, or even his obligations. He knows he is losing his mother, and I am sure he is scared, so anything he can do to make her happy he will gladly do. As you have stated to him, you want him to decide. But I am not sure that is really fair on him, he knows what you and your wife want.
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... My intention in posting here was more to help me understand if the SM's request would be considered normal in the Scouting world. Because I told him (calmly) that I "strongly disagreed." But thinking about it, I wanted to make sure I wasn't opposing some obvious Scouting ethos I was missing. .... 

I think you got a variety of answers sufficient for you to conclude that this action is a bit draconian. Most of us here feel our troops would be harmed if we acted so harshly when our SPLs didn't meet expectations. Most of us see the PLs as the anchors of the troop. SPL facilitates PL training and coordination and sometimes comes along site the more introverted youth. If he does well in his first four months, the ensuing months require less physical presence. On the other hand, we're not your boy's SM. A Unit Commissioner like @@Eagledad might advise him to lighten up, another one might have warned him to do the opposite.

 

... I'll say my wife and I still respect him as a SM. He does so much work for the troop. The conversation was cordial and calm. But I'm still somewhat floored by it.  ...

In the real world, superiors want more than we can/should give. And it's on us to say no more water is getting squeezed from this rock. Days without pay, being written up and sent to HR, missing salary bumps, busing through the rough part of town instead of tossing money towards car repairs and parking garages ... all were part of my career. It's called sacrifices. No regrets.

 

It's time to stop being floored. Your son just has to say "No." That's all. No long speeches. No interpretations of Oath and Law. Nothing. Just, "Respectfully, Sir, no resignation will be forthcoming. Advance the election timetable as you see fit."

Then to the boys, "Sorry guys. This is more important than troop life. See you on the next activity. If you think I've done right by you, my hat is still in the ring for the next term."

 

Let me assure you that I practice what I preach. My kids play soccer, and when they were in high school there were times they were sidelined longer than what I thought was good for the team. I told them to take it up with their coach ... I'm not on the team. The coach eventually did discuss it with me -- because it's a weird parent who doesn't give them a piece of their mind. I said, "Yes, he or she's bothered. But, that's between you, him/her, and the players. Thanks for your hard work."

Edited by qwazse

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I received many calls in the evening from Scoutmasters asking me how to remove scouts from their PORs. It is so disheartening when adults see bad decisions as bad scouting. I tried so hard to teach otherwise in Scoutmasters Specific courses, but vanity blinds us from the noble objective.

Barry, what do you say in those courses?

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Something qwazse said reminded me that the main skill I wanted SPLs to practice was delegating. Actually delegating and patience, they go hand-in-hand. But I find that delegating is one of the least used skills by adults. That skill gives the average leader leverage for being a good leader. If the skill can be learned at a scout age, imagine their leadership ability when they are adults. 

 

And thinking about this scoutmaster; through my struggles in learning to be a better scoutmaster, I tried to balance my pride with the humility of learning something new from all our youth leaders. There is so much that could be learned in this situation.

 

Barry 

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Something qwazse said reminded me that the main skill I wanted SPLs to practice was delegating. Actually delegating and patience, they go hand-in-hand. But I find that delegating is one of the least used skills by adults. That skill gives the average leader leverage for being a good leader. If the skill can be learned at a scout age, imagine their leadership ability when they are adults. 

 

And thinking about this scoutmaster; through my struggles in learning to be a better scoutmaster, I tried to balance my pride with the humility of learning something new from all our youth leaders. There is so much that could be learned in this situation.

 

Barry 

 

 

Current SPL for my troop, I hate delegating, I know I should do it. I've been getting a lot better with delegating. it's so much easier doing it yourself instead of having others do it.

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Current SPL for my troop, I hate delegating, I know I should do it. I've been getting a lot better with delegating. it's so much easier doing it yourself instead of having others do it.

Yep, that's what they all say.

 

The thing is that SPLs shouldn't see themselves as the Troop leader, instead he is the Patrol Leader's working model of a servant leader. I don't know if you realize it, but the Patrol Leader position is the most important leadership position in he troop. There are many reasons why, but as a SM, the PL is the most important position because it teaches a scout more about his character than any other position. There is no position as stressful as the Patrol Leader position if the troop is running correctly. And there is no better motivation to learn new habits and change old habits than stress. A person can only change when they see and feel the consequences of their choices. If the SPL does for them what they should be doing for themselves, then he is robbing the scouts an opportunity to learn and grow. Success isn't a well performing troop under your leadership. Success is well performing patrols under the Patrol Leaders leadership. The more you do for them, the less they will do for their patrol.

 

In most cases, the Patrol Leaders are new to the experience of leadership, so the SPL should be a model of leadership skills for PLs to learn from. And remember, we humans learn best by watching, not by listening. Patrol Leaders watch everything the SPL is doing. So show them how to be a servant to their scouts. Treat the PLC the way the PLs should treat their patrol. Serve your PLC so they learn how to serve the patrol. Run your PLC meetings the same as they should run their patrol meetings. All the PL's look up to the position of SPL, so set the example of servant leadership by "looking up" to the PLs as the main leaders of the troop. Treat them with the respect as the top tier troop leaders and you will find that your humility will be rewarded with the same respect. It's pretty cool to experience really.

 

Sounds like you are pretty good SPL already. I look forward to learning what you gain from your experience.

 

Barry

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Yep, that's what they all say.

 

The thing is that SPLs shouldn't see themselves as the Troop leader, instead he is the Patrol Leader's working model of a servant leader. I don't know if you realize it, but the Patrol Leader position is the most important leadership position in he troop. There are many reasons why, but as a SM, the PL is the most important position because it teaches a scout more about his character than any other position. There is no position as stressful as the Patrol Leader position if the troop is running correctly. And there is no better motivation to learn new habits and change old habits than stress. A person can only change when they see and feel the consequences of their choices. If the SPL does for them what they should be doing for themselves, then he is robbing the scouts an opportunity to learn and grow. Success isn't a well performing troop under your leadership. Success is well performing patrols under the Patrol Leaders leadership. The more you do for them, the less they will do for their patrol.

 

In most cases, the Patrol Leaders are new to the experience of leadership, so the SPL should be a model of leadership skills for PLs to learn from. And remember, we humans learn best by watching, not by listening. Patrol Leaders watch everything the SPL is doing. So show them how to be a servant to their scouts. Treat the PLC the way the PLs should treat their patrol. Serve your PLC so they learn how to serve the patrol. Run your PLC meetings the same as they should run their patrol meetings. All the PL's look up to the position of SPL, so set the example of servant leadership by "looking up" to the PLs as the main leaders of the troop. Treat them with the respect as the top tier troop leaders and you will find that your humility will be rewarded with the same respect. It's pretty cool to experience really.

 

Sounds like you are pretty good SPL already. I look forward to learning what you gain from your experience.

 

Barry

@@Eagledad Everything you just is completely true! The thing is though I have the most issue with is having the PLs actually do their job. Not a single Pl in our troop has done their job. I’ve tried fixing it, and many other SPLs have too. Tonight at the PLC I’m requesting for the SM and I to talk to the PLs separate. They watch what I do, and they don’t want to do it. Reason why I get stuck doing it, this is my second year as SPL due to nobody else stepping up for elections. It honestly wears you out when you have to do most of it. Even worst thing is, I always have to teach! Senior scouts go above my head always to SM saying they want to help instruct but NEVER ask me! Then why I say they can teach, they don’t even prepare!

Edited by ItsBrian

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@@Eagledad Everything you just is completely true! The thing is though I have the most issue with is having the PLs actually do their job. Not a single Pl in our troop has done their job. I’ve tried fixing it, and many other SPLs have too. Tonight at the PLC I’m requesting for the SM and I to talk to the PLs separate. They watch what I do, and they don’t want to do it. Reason why I get stuck doing it, this is my second year as SPL due to nobody else stepping up for elections. It honestly wears you out when you have to do most of it. Even worst thing is, I always have to teach! Senior scouts go above my head always to SM saying they want to help instruct but NEVER ask me! Then why I say they can teach, they don’t even prepare!

@@ItsBrian, you need to spend more time in your hammock, or at the trading post, or lashing your own personal giant hamster wheel. The position needs to look like fun before PL's will start running for it.

 

Talking to your SM about necessary adjustments is a good idea. Needing to focus on your Eagle project is a good excuse. Not just between you and the SM, but between the SM and the boys. He needs to say to them "The current SPL to focus on his Eagle project, that means you all need to take up the slack and be more accountable to do things the way he was doing them."

 

By the way, that is a REALLY BIG ASK for many SMs. Parents aren't comfortable with the ensuing "storming" among boys who are now finding that the spoon-feeding has stopped. Unless he's heard from ASMs or other adults who see what you're seeing, he'll likely get some agitated phone calls. So, expect a little give-and-take on this one.

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@@ItsBrian, you need to spend more time in your hammock, or at the trading post, or lashing your own personal giant hamster wheel. The position needs to look like fun before PL's will start running for it.

 

Talking to your SM about necessary adjustments is a good idea. Needing to focus on your Eagle project is a good excuse. Not just between you and the SM, but between the SM and the boys. He needs to say to them "The current SPL to focus on his Eagle project, that means you all need to take up the slack and be more accountable to do things the way he was doing them."

 

By the way, that is a REALLY BIG ASK for many SMs. Parents aren't comfortable with the ensuing "storming" among boys who are now finding that the spoon-feeding has stopped. Unless he's heard from ASMs or other adults who see what you're seeing, he'll likely get some agitated phone calls. So, expect a little give-and-take on this one.

 

 

@@qwazse Noted. I also think they know they can't handle it, unfortunately (I didn't think I could either), past SPLs, now Eagles, say I'm the most efficient one the troop has ever had. I guess that may be a reason why they wouldn't want to run because they actually have to do something as SPL instead of adults doing it because of me? My troop HAD to be adult-led before I started growing up and gaining higher leadership roles because no scouts did anything. There was NEVER a PLC, CC always made the schedule, SM did all teaching. I fixed all of that gladly, now I made the schedule with help from the PLC.

 

My troop is small(12), everyone knows each other. (besides the "ghost" parents). Basically, every parent knows every scout's name, so that wouldn't be a problem if someone gets told something no parent gets upset.

Edited by ItsBrian

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Well it's not easy letting failure happen, it goes against our human nature. I'm curious what your SM says.

 

We have a local troop that has a great reputation as a well run troop. It's over 100 years old and the alumni always try to recruit the best Scoutmasters. One of their SMs was a mentor for me when I started as a SM. About 20 years ago this troop of about 70 scouts had two senior scouts that were outstanding leaders. I knew these scouts because they were my son's friends at school and they joined one of our Philmont crews. These two scouts were so good that their adults didn't have to do anything for about four years while they led the troop. Well, when they aged out of the troop and went East (MIT) to school, the troop fell flat on its face. The Troop lost almost half of it's membership in a years time. The simple cause was that these two senior scouts never trained any scout with the leadership skills to perform up to the "expectation" of leading the troop. The two scouts just assumed the next generation of leaders would be as good as they were. But because these two scouts did all the work, the next generation never experienced the kind of leadership required for meeting the expectation of leading a troop. They never really understood true leadership even at the patrol level because the older scouts jumped in for them when the PLs struggled. 

 

I don't have an answer to your situation because I don't know your scoutmaster's expectations. But you would be doing it wrong in our troop.

 

What is the worst that will happen if your PLs don't do their job? I don't need an answer, I've heard them all. I'm just throwing out the question for you to consider for a while. But, I would tell my SPL that he is being prideful (arrogant) thinking he is better than his PLs. 

 

Failure is more of a teacher than success. The Scoutmaster that  the OP is talking about appears to me to be afraid of failure. And because of that, he is afraid to risk allowing the SPL prove himself by succeeding. It's easy doing someone else's work when you assume they will fail. The real challenge is figuring out how to motivate them to rise up and succeed. It's a skill that will be used for a lifetime.

 

I know your doing your best and trying hard. I'm not asking for more because you might be doing the best in your situation. And for that, I'm excited for your accomplishments.

 

Barry

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Well it's not easy letting failure happen, it goes against our human nature. I'm curious what your SM says.

 

We have a local troop that has a great reputation as a well run troop. It's over 100 years old and the alumni always try to recruit the best Scoutmasters. One of their SMs was a mentor for me when I started as a SM. About 20 years ago this troop of about 70 scouts had two senior scouts that were outstanding leaders. I knew these scouts because they were my son's friends at school and they joined one of our Philmont crews. These two scouts were so good that their adults didn't have to do anything for about four years while they led the troop. Well, when they aged out of the troop and went East (MIT) to school, the troop fell flat on its face. The Troop lost almost half of it's membership in a years time. The simple cause was that these two senior scouts never trained any scout with the leadership skills to perform up to the "expectation" of leading the troop. The two scouts just assumed the next generation of leaders would be as good as they were. But because these two scouts did all the work, the next generation never experienced the kind of leadership required for meeting the expectation of leading a troop. They never really understood true leadership even at the patrol level because the older scouts jumped in for them when the PLs struggled.

 

I don't have an answer to your situation because I don't know your scoutmaster's expectations. But you would be doing it wrong in our troop.

 

What is the worst that will happen if your PLs don't do their job? I don't need an answer, I've heard them all. I'm just throwing out the question for you to consider for a while. But, I would tell my SPL that he is being prideful (arrogant) thinking he is better than his PLs.

 

Failure is more of a teacher than success. The Scoutmaster that the OP is talking about appears to me to be afraid of failure. And because of that, he is afraid to risk allowing the SPL prove himself by succeeding. It's easy doing someone else's work when you assume they will fail. The real challenge is figuring out how to motivate them to rise up and succeed. It's a skill that will be used for a lifetime.

 

I know your doing your best and trying hard. I'm not asking for more because you might be doing the best in your situation. And for that, I'm excited for your accomplishments.

 

Barry

@@Eagledad Sorry, I didn’t mean that like “I’m so great I’m the only one that can do itâ€, more like it’s one of my traits? I guess that’s how I would explain it. I was never taught how to lead either. I also kinda meant since they saw how nobody else did anything, meaning they could get away with it, but now I kind of set a “standardâ€? Might be confusing not sure.

 

What would you say is the best way for them to gain leadership ability? They have 0 interest in being in a leadership position unfortunately.

Edited by ItsBrian

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@@Eagledad Sorry, I didn’t mean that like “I’m so great I’m the only one that can do itâ€, more like it’s one of my traits? I guess that’s how I would explain it. I was never taught how to lead either. I also kinda meant since they saw how nobody else did anything, meaning they could get away with it, but now I kind of set a “standardâ€? Might be confusing not sure.

 

What would you say is the best way for them to gain leadership ability? They have 0 interest in being in a leadership position unfortunately.

In a small troop, this can be really tough. As SPL, you're seen as the "uber patrol leader", not the "patrol leaders' leader." Son #2 was in this position. I think it cost our troop dearly in that they avoided the patrol method like the plague.

 

Pick your battles. Of the things you are doing that should be offloaded, choose one or two things you want the PL to do from here on out. They should be one or two of the more important tasks. Discuss with the SM.

 

Then, here's one way to transition:

You and your ASPL (I assume you have one) need to pick a couple of things you do "just for fun".  For now, it could be some fun aspect of your Eagle project(s). It could be cooking some awesome dessert, a survival shelter, or a pioneering project. (They giant hamster wheel? That was a former SPL's obsession at camp one week.) Your line then becomes, "I'll be busy doing X (cool thing) while you do Y (offloaded tasks). Come ask me if you're having trouble."

Set yourself up some distance away from the patrol, so that it will take some effort to come ask for help.

 

Inasmuch as they succeed, reward them with praise and maybe a patch, or slice of that awesome dessert, a try at your shelter, or time on the hamster wheel!

Failure is par for the course. Inasmuch as they fail, give them a fair evaluation and encourage to do better next time.

But, if something's not done, don't bail them out. Remember, you're "too busy" doing X.

 

By the way, don't be discouraged about having to adjust your style of leadership. Leadership development is a method of boy scouting. That implies that any given scout comes in with or without natural ability, but each one develops it from there. So, you came in as an "I'll git 'er done" kind of guy, now you can develop into a "we'll git 'er done" kind of guy. (Sounds like you're almost there.)

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@@Eagledad Sorry, I didn’t mean that like “I’m so great I’m the only one that can do itâ€, more like it’s one of my traits? I guess that’s how I would explain it. I was never taught how to lead either. I also kinda meant since they saw how nobody else did anything, meaning they could get away with it, but now I kind of set a “standardâ€? Might be confusing not sure.

 

What would you say is the best way for them to gain leadership ability? They have 0 interest in being in a leadership position unfortunately.

I worded it wrong. I am not suggesting you were acting arrogant in your job. I'm confident you are selfless and work very hard. But when "my" SPL (or ASMs, or Committee members) suggest that we compensate for scouts who can't or won't make the effort (either by asking them to leave or doing their job for them), then I point out that they aren't letting the program work as designed. If the scout doesn't improve performance or take himself out of the game, he hasn't experienced is responsibilities enough.

 

It is true that a percentage of scouts will fail at expectations and not learn anything from the experience (or want to learn from the experience). But the objective is for them to see their personal limitations so they can make good decisions in their future.

 

My younger (introverted) son learned quickly in scouts that he didn't like leadership, so he stayed as far away from it as he could. Ironically he, at age 17, was delegated the team leader of a non scouting group (soccer team) on the 3rd day of a Northern Tier trek because it became obvious that he was the only person with the kind of wilderness experience to get the crew thru the planned trek. I was told by the adult members of the group that he saved their trip from becoming a disaster. It wasn't so much that he was the natural leader, he just became obvious that only he the kind of experience needed for the crew to complete the trek. But I know my son would have declined going on the trip if he known that he would become the team leader. Even now as an adult, he turns down promotions that require him to manage other people. He doesn't understand that even in his quit understated manner, his style expresses confidence. A lot of people feel comfortable around people like that. 

 

qwazse (should I capitalize qwazse?) hinted earlier that the expectations of programs are based mainly from the SM. You and your SM are a team and so your goals should be about the same. I imagine you are meeting your scoutmasters expectations quit well and he is very proud. I shouldn't be so forward in suggesting your troops performance based on my expectations. And I apologize for that. Folks here will tell you that sometimes I go two steps back for every step forward.  :rolleyes:

 

Barry

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