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SteveMM

Differences in Scoutmaster leadership styles

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32 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

That raises an interesting point.  

Some of the positions of "responsibility" really don't involve any responsibility on a practical level and are typically treated by scouts in most troops as mere formalities to get a check-off on their advancement record.

In my son's troop, that perfectly describes the roles of Historian, Order of the Arrow Representative, and Outdoor Ethics Guide.

Granted, some scouts in some troops someplace in America might have actually done something to fulfill those roles, but in our troop, I have never in the past 5 years seen anyone who held any of those 3 jobs actually take on any meaningful responsibility. 

Kind of unfair when you think about it.  The SPL works hard, attends the vast bulk of troop events, is constantly "on point", and he ends up getting the same amount of credit towards his next rank as the scout who was "Historian", never attended a single campout, and has rarely been seen in uniform at a meeting.

Guess that kind of mimics real life though. You have kids, buy them tons of Christmas presents, spend hours wrapping them all, and then some fat guy in a suit gets all the credit.

 

This sounds like that the adults are taking more responsibility (too much) of POR performance accountability than the PLC. Goes back to my example of the SPL who removed several PORs because he was accountable for their performance and didn't see any practical need for them.

Your situation is very common with most (if not all) troops because some of the responsibilities aren't tied to major patrol or troop team goals. They are just kind of off to themselves. We had this problem with our Troop secretary who takes notes at the PLC meetings. To add more accountable responsibility, we gave him the responsibility of updating the Troopmaster Advancement software. The advancement is important for the scouts to get recognition, but the software also tracks each scouts attendance to troop activities. Which are important for accountibility. This was an adults job, but by giving him the Secretary responsibility, he was also expected to train the patrols to keep records as well. The adult would check the Secretaries updates each week because frankly, these were sent to Council and the committee was concerned about accuracy. 

Work with the SPL/PLC and see if they can find ways to tie the POR expectations into overall goals. Then they would be part of a team that holds each other accountable, or else mayham would follow.

Barry

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Troops should be aware of their leadership needs and "be prepared" for it.

* regular ILST sessions after every election
* encourage NYLT participation 

Personally, I'm not a big fan of having too many "troop requirements" for SPL. I like troops that let boys pick their own leaders, and I like troops that let scouts get a chance to meet a real challenge, whether or not the adults see their "potential". 

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14 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

This sounds like that the adults are taking more responsibility (too much) of POR performance accountability than the PLC. Goes back to my example of the SPL who removed several PORs because he was accountable for their performance and didn't see any practical need for them

Sometimes, that's exactly what's going on!  Take "webmaster", which is an official position of responsibility, but that I've never seen actually done by a youth (there's an adult in our troop who administers the troop website).  I wonder how many troops really do have a scout who does that role....

In the case of Historian, there's no adult doing the role....it's just not viewed as important to the troop.

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11 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

Sometimes, that's exactly what's going on!  Take "webmaster", which is an official position of responsibility, but that I've never seen actually done by a youth (there's an adult in our troop who administers the troop website).  I wonder how many troops really do have a scout who does that role....

We do. That is where we send the computer nerds to get some POR time.

Barry

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14 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

We do. That is where we send the computer nerds to get some POR time.

Our WM is golden!

I think this is the challenge of SMs in the age of a plethora of PoR's. You have to make sure 1) the boys care about work getting done and will tell the scout every time they missed seeing that job done, 2) a scout is removed from the position if a few weeks go by without the work being done.

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2 hours ago, mrkstvns said:

Troops should be aware of their leadership needs and "be prepared" for it.

* regular ILST sessions after every election
* encourage NYLT participation 

Personally, I'm not a big fan of having too many "troop requirements" for SPL. I like troops that let boys pick their own leaders, and I like troops that let scouts get a chance to meet a real challenge, whether or not the adults see their "potential". 

I agree, keep the requirements to a minimum, or a troop may end up eating crow when they have to bend the requirements in order to find anybody to take on a POR. 

ILST and NYLT are a great start to expose your Scouts to some leadership concepts, spread the seeds of a servant leadership culture and model the patrol method. NYLT has been the source of some of my most cherished Scouting experiences as a youth and adult. However: 

Leadership development of youth (or adults!) doesn't start or end with the BSA's formalized courses. The training from a senior youth to a junior one, or the mentoring of a wise and patient Scoutmaster or Assistant Scoutmaster to a Scout is just as much, or even more important than ILST or NYLT. These are the more every day learning experiences that can slip past us if we aren't looking for them. They don't tend to show up as big announcements or Scoutmaster's minutes, but in little conversations after a meeting, on the ride back from a camp out, or sitting around a dying campfire.

My senior scouts in my troop and NYLT have come to both love and hate my most common question, because I deploy it in most situations. "What do you think?" It (and all it's various neutral and non-aggressive forms) are my favorite question. I've mostly been blown away by many of my Scout's ability to analyze themselves and the group, and reason through the choices that they make. Often they come to me with questions, and walk away with an answer they already had. Plenty of times I've been surprised by the perfectly acceptable and workable solutions to problems and challenges that I hadn't even thought of. Sometimes their ideas are better than mine. Sure there are some times, where they are running afoul of the rules, but even then, when the guidelines are laid out and explained, they are pretty good at figuring out what they should be doing. This kind of guided self learning is something I've grown fond of, but it does take some practice to not come off as condescending. (Which I'm unfortunately very good at coming off condescending.) It's not the right approach for every situation, but it sure does work for a lot of them. @SSScout mentioned the Socratic method, which I believe is somewhat what I described. 

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I'm not sure of the best way to do this, but it's also important that the leaders always keep in mind the need for succession planning. Keep an eye open for scouts who might show good leadership skills and who might be able to step up to a role if needed.  Can the ASPLs pinch hit for the SPL?  Are there patrol quartermasters who know how to pull all the right troop equipment for a campout if the quartermaster is out sick?

Adults need to do this too.  Who can step into the scoutmaster's shoes if he keels over from a heart attack tomorrow?  Who knows how to do the advancement chair's job?  Does everyone in a key position have a known backup?

Strong troops will have a strong bench with people who can fill multiple jobs when push comes to shove. Troops that don't cross-train or don't have a succession plan in mind can easily fail in the absence of a key leader.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, mrkstvns said:

Are there patrol quartermasters who know how to pull all the right troop equipment for a campout if the quartermaster is out sick?

There ya go.... Weren't  we talking about Boy Led vs Adult Led vs Troop model vs Patrol model Scouting?  

I firmly remember Scouting where the Troop HAD NO EQUIPMENT. I think my Troop's only equipment might have been the flags and the stands, which a Scout dad had made by welding some iron pipe to  two old Chevy truck brake drums . They are still used, painted an OD green....  The Patrols had all the equipment, cooksets, tarp tents (unless you owned your own), Patrol chuck box, maybe....   And the Patrol QM had to keep it in his basement/garage/toolshed.  Troop stuff (. flags and stands and MBBook collection, CoH candlabra? ) was in the church closet, next to the advancement poster taped to the wall. 

And then there was that hike into the campsite, up hill both ways....   

 

Edited by SSScout

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22 minutes ago, SSScout said:

There ya go.... Weren't  we talking about Boy Led vs Adult Led vs Troop model vs Patrol model Scouting?  

I firmly remember Scouting where the Troop HAD NO EQUIPMENT. I think my Troop's only equipment might have been the flags and the stands, which a Scout dad had made by welding some iron pipe to  two old Chevy truck brake drums . They are still used, painted an OD green....  The Patrols had all the equipment, cooksets, tarp tents (unless you owned your own), Patrol chuck box, maybe....   And the Patrol QM had to keep it in his basement/garage/toolshed.  Troop stuff (. flags and stands and MBBook collection, CoH candlabra? ) was in the church closet, next to the advancement poster taped to the wall. 

And then there was that hike into the campsite, up hill both ways....   

At the root here is how the Scoutmaster develops leaders.

Just as there are many styles of successful coaches, so too are there many styles of successful Scoutmasters.  I would think that regardless of style, the SM needs to be focused on

  • how leaders develop within troop. 
  • how individual scouts develop their own leadership potential

It could be a more active, hands on approach, or it could be one where the SM has develops a structure in the troop where that leadership development happens within the Scouts themselves.  The second sounds preferrable to me - but it's also much harder to do.  Regardless of how it's done, I do think that an environment that challenges Scouts is important to keeping them engaged.

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1 hour ago, SSScout said:

I firmly remember Scouting where the Troop HAD NO EQUIPMENT. I think my Troop's only equipment might have been the flags and the stands, which a Scout dad had made by welding some iron pipe to  two old Chevy truck brake drums . They are still used, painted an OD green....  The Patrols had all the equipment, cooksets, tarp tents (unless you owned your own), Patrol chuck box, maybe....   And the Patrol QM had to keep it in his basement/garage/toolshed.  Troop stuff (. flags and stands and MBBook collection, CoH candlabra? ) was in the church closet, next to the advancement poster taped to the wall.  

You're bringing back memories!  That's exactly the way my troop operated when I was a kid --- every patrol kept and maintained its own set of tents, tarps, axe, saw, cookpots, etc. But that's not the way my son's troop operates: they have an equipment building at the chartering church where all the camping equipment is stored. The troop quartermaster figures out what is needed for a given trip and doles it out to patrols on an event-by-event basis. He has outsize responsibility compared to when I was a kid, when it was the patrol QM who shouldered most of the responsibility for gear.  The old way seems to tie more strongly to patrol method. (I wonder how most troops do it these days....)

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1 hour ago, mrkstvns said:

You're bringing back memories!  That's exactly the way my troop operated when I was a kid --- every patrol kept and maintained its own set of tents, tarps, axe, saw, cookpots, etc. But that's not the way my son's troop operates: they have an equipment building at the chartering church where all the camping equipment is stored. The troop quartermaster figures out what is needed for a given trip and doles it out to patrols on an event-by-event basis. He has outsize responsibility compared to when I was a kid, when it was the patrol QM who shouldered most of the responsibility for gear.  The old way seems to tie more strongly to patrol method. (I wonder how most troops do it these days....)

Even though we had 100 scouts, this is how we pushed the patrols. It was a challenge, I admit. The Troop QMs job was teaching the patrol QMs their responsibilities and maintaining the troop trailers. The Troop QM had the keys to the trailer, so he was required for using and loading the trailer correctly. He also verified the driver was trained for pulling the trailer. 

The patrols where encourage to arrange transportation to take their gear. That could include the trailer is the patrols were camping with the troop.

The system is not a pure as the old days, but it was a start in the right direction.

Part of the challenge is the respect (of lack of) for the Patrol QM. When I was a scout, the PQM was considered more important than the Asst PL because they were responsible for the condition of the gear and for getting it to camp outs.  The PQM today is more of a position used to give a scout a title. 

Barry

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