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RememberSchiff

History of Merit Badges is a Cultural History of US

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Leadership style used to be instructed as proper application to the situation. However, I've observed in the last 30 or so years certain leadership styles being pushed for most, if not all, situations. The change was certainly noticeable  in the 21st Century Wood Badge.  But, it's not just scouts, I've seen the trend in business as well. 

It can be a problem in a patrol method program because humans and events require different styles of leadership to maintain positive momentum of a team. A dictatorship style isn't required very often to motivate a team, but if you want to have a laugh,  observe the adults of troops breaking camp at your next camporee or summer camp to notice the sudden shift into a dictator style leadership. 

We often talk about a Servant Style Leadership on this forum, and I think most of us know what we are talking about. But in truth, "Taking care of your scouts" requires creativity and adjusting styles of leadership because people's demeanor changes from one day to the next. Motivating multiple personalities toward a common goal requires multiple styles of leadership.

Qwazse mentioned high adventure in his post; I'm not sure there is a better arena in the scouting program to watch leadership performance than high adventures treks because the physical requirements for the environment are so exhausting that it pulls most of the crews emotions to their extremes. Nothing like getting up in hard rain to eat a cold eat breakfast and break camp for an 18 mile hike with a 3000 foot grade. I learned to pick my tent by the ease and ability to set it up and break it down in hard rain. Knowing the stress of back county crew treks, I spent a lot of time preparing adults for the emotional roller coaster they were getting submerged in with a crew of teenagers who were supposed to be the crew leaders. We asked one scouter to leave the program after he lost his temper and acted aggressive toward a scout during a Philmont trek. I can assure you that 95% of the members of that crew dearly wanted the leader to use the dictator style leadership in that moment.  

I don't think there is a better place than the patrol for teaching young adults of when and how to apply different styles of leadership. But, I also feel the BSA is getting away from encouraging that growth and moving toward to what qwazse calls the interpersonal leadership. And, I think the adults are compensating for the trend by not letting youth leaders get into situations where they practice a lot leadership decisions. So, I'm not sure it matters much anymore. 

Barry

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12 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

... Qwazse mentioned high adventure in his post;...

To be clear, I wasn't talking about HA (although the backpacking example for 11-13 year olds might be considered such). An amusing example was when we had a crew officer's meeting and concluded that it would be fun to have a self-defense trainer come in. I gave the VP of Program the contact info for a guy who volunteered with us a few years previously and suggested that she invite him to the next meeting. She was expecting it to be another planning session. Instead he showed up with all of his gear and had the youth practicing kicks, throws, and escapes within the hour!

Multiply this by every activity, including how supper gets cooked, etc ... and you can see little differences in leadership style that fell along the lines of which organization the venturer had spent his/her junior high years with. There were positives in both, and it was fun watching the scouts learn from each other. The youth who did not have time in either organization had it the toughest ... mainly because they didn't recognize when they were actually leading. For example, you might lose in making a decision and feel like you were wasting everyone's time while rain started coming down, but the evening before, you did take time to have tea with the new kid ... and have no idea how important that was at the time. The trained scouts had a sense that both of those activities were just part of the leadership process (and that getting full experience of hiking and camping with loved-by-weather-me was inevitable).

30 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

... But, I also feel the BSA is getting away from encouraging that growth and moving toward to what qwazse calls the interpersonal leadership. And, I think the adults are compensating for the trend by not letting youth leaders get into situations where they practice a lot leadership decisions. So, I'm not sure it matters much anymore.  ...

Oh it matters. The young engineers were around table this weekend and they already have pretty well-formed critiques of their employers' (and potential employers') leadership styles. From what I gathered, superficial attempts at interpersonal style are already red flags to them.

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17 minutes ago, qwazse said:

To be clear, I wasn't talking about HA (although the backpacking example for 11-13 year olds might be considered such). An amusing example was when we had a crew officer's meeting and concluded that it would be fun to have a self-defense trainer come in. I gave the VP of Program the contact info for a guy who volunteered with us a few years previously and suggested that she invite him to the next meeting. She was expecting it to be another planning session. Instead he showed up with all of his gear and had the youth practicing kicks, throws, and escapes within the hour!

 

The reason treks expose leadership so profoundly is because the crew is experiencing a relationship in one week that takes almost six months to develop in normal patrol activities. Adults really struggle with the shift of behavior. Scouts will figure things out, but it's more emotional than adults like. :blink:

Barry

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33 minutes ago, qwazse said:

including how supper gets cooked, etc ... and you can see little differences in leadership style that fell along the lines of which organization the venturer had spent his/her junior high years with.

Imagine a group of 10-12 Brownies (3rd grade) trying to decide what to cook at an upcoming after-school cookout at the local girl scout camp.   They were armed with several cookbooks of easy campfire meals.   It was a long process, and I wondered if they would ever reach a decision, but several of the girls rose to the occasion, organized the group, and eventually got them to hammer out a plan that everyone was satisfied with.  (It did have two different deserts, though.)

GSUSA does emphasize what they call "girl leadership" down to the very youngest levels.  But in practise for the very youngest ones (Daisies) it is often implemented as girls-decide-between-options-preselected-by-the-adults.  

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