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Beavah

Qualifications to either get or hold a job

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I have long maintained that the qualities reguired to win a campaign for President bear no relationship to the qualities required to successfully do the job of President.

 

So says Woapalanne in da Issues and Politics thread this one spins from.

 

I happen to wholeheartedly agree with Woa on this, eh? If yeh ever have the pleasure of workin' with politicians for any length of time (I have at the state level at least), yeh know they tend to be very charming, very shallow people. Yeh can be delighted and entertained by 'em at a dinner table or cocktail party... just as long as yeh don't do it very often. That's when yeh notice the shallow. Governing, by contrast, requires yeh to be deep, eh? To engage with issues not just people, and to be willin' to tick people off, not just please 'em.

 

So I'm wonderin'... do we have this problem in Scouting?

 

Or worse, are we part of the problem in the nation?

 

Are the qualifications for being elected to SPL or PL different than da qualifications to serve as SPL?

 

Yah, I confess I once saw a lad who hadn't done a thing in his POR the previous year win an SPL election over a fellow who as ASPL planned and ran half of the troop's successful and well-liked events. All because he gave an entertaining and enthusiastic speech.

 

Are da qualifications for being selected SM or ASM different than da qualifications to do those jobs properly?

 

I remember as a commish once being involved in the removal of a SM because of some very poor behavior around youth (not YP, just screaming/threatening), even while he remained well-liked by most of da parents (for being so "clean cut" and well dressed).

 

Do our selections and elections teach da notion that it's possible and even valued to "get" a job with flash and charm rather than earn a job with sweat and ability?

 

More importantly, how do we teach the young generation as voters and selectors to dig beneath the surface and look for real quality? What do you see in your troop? What do you do?

 

Beavah

 

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I see what the Beavah is saying. True that charisma can sell. However, in many cases in Scouting it is a slightly different scenario.

Example being the Scoutmaster who is selected because nobody else is ready and willing to do the job. He may not be particularly charming or come with expert credentials. He is just there. That plays out in PL elections frequently as well, especially among the new recruits. The average 11-12 yr. old is intimidated a bit by the thought of responsibility. The election falls to the one that seems the least put-off by the idea. That does tend to change as the boys get a bit older.

SPL, at least from my limited observation, tracks a bit differently. They do have a little more of the "charisma" option at their disposal. But the younger scouts, especially the Star and under crowd are the big voter block. They actually seem to judge better than we might think. They will look at the Scout who has a good track record in working with them. I've seen guys get elected SPL because many of the younger Scouts remember him as Den Chief. Being helpful and friendly can carry more weight than a good speech. The recently elected SPL might be buck-toothed, cross-eyed and talk funny, but if he has been a true friend to the boys they will respect him and work under his leadership

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Beavah,

 

Shame on you. You left OA out. I thinl wakwib is correct in saying that sometimes that the boys are more clued in on things, how their peers are, then the adults. It always amazes me at unit OA elections when a unit has several eligible candidates, and only 1 or 2 get elected. Sometimes I'm left wondering whether the youths were elected due to being the real scout, or by the popularity vote.

 

Our Troop is, make that was so small that the three eligible for SPL just rotate it around. We just doubled in size, and will triple by summer. It will be interesting to see what the young ones do next sprimg when we hold POR elections.

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I won an election as lodge chief in a way not unrelated to this.

 

I had years of experience with a YMCA model government program doing proposal presentations, speaking, debating, asking and answering questions, etc. and even a speaking award on my wall.

 

My opponent was the youngest member of a virtual lodge dynasty who was supposed to be the third of three brothers to be a lodge chief. I came from a non-Scouting family. His troop was heavily into OA. I was the only lodge member active in my troop. He had been lodge secretary a full term. I had only months as a chapter chief plus several lesser posts. He was a Vigil Honor member with multiple years longer in the lodge, I was only a Brotherhood member not yet eligible for Vigil (we were same age/grade though). He had been JLT and NLS trained, I had not, though we both had NOAC and LLD experience. His older brother was lodge advisor then and readily able to advise him, I... um... had the advice of the most renegade, unpopular, unpleasant, and curmudgenly adults of the lodge. He knew all the lodge's key people, I only had a vague idea who any of the key people were. He came from a very functional troop, I came from one with... issues.

 

How did I win?

 

I could out talk him. People were tired of lodge's political factions and saw him as just the latest member of one of the better ones, while I had outsider status. He had done a so-so job as secretary and everyone knew it, while I was a virtual unknown.

 

How did that work out?

 

Not so bad, but not so good either. Looking back I had the ability to really do well with that position, but I didn't know what I was doing. I leaned on my Vice Chief a lot and the guy I beat was put in charge of a lot of our section conclave hosting duties for the next year. When we needed some sort of public speaking done, that was well covered. I could run a meeting just fine, plan an agenda, all those sorts of things. I basically memorized the Guide to Officers and Advisors and anything else I could read, so I knew the rules and had the book knowledge. When it came to section politics I was no help. I didn't really know how to plan an event in the practical sense (my vice-chief had to explain what a back-dating calendar was). I also didn't have the sort of communicatins skills and personal relationships to make best use of the team I was leading. Nor did I have the first clue where to start to staff committees. All the things that were handed down by tradition I was completely ignorant of. When it came time for the end of year "state of the lodge" address I tried to give credit where due (my excellent fellow officers and the hard working members) and take blame as it was due(the buck stops here type thing), one of those areas of blame being a lack of awards at that banquet (as a sort of delayed penance I have recently been the adviser to the awards committee).

 

You draw your own conclusions about if I was the right guy for the job and if my lodge made the right choice.

 

A few years after I was chief, in an apparent fit of insanity by the council and gullibility by me, I was lodge adviser for a couple of years, which was so-so as well. (Uknown to me at the time, I was given the post to keep another adult out of it, who I then made an associate adviser, nearly destroying the lodge.) Semi-related to that, I did a few summers as a camp program director, part of it while lodge adviser. (I will say I got rather good at being a program director. I was program director initially because no one else would step up, then I got good at it.)

 

In a way though I am sort of a success story for the Scouting program, and a warning, too. I did eventually learn the sort of leadership skills we all hope to teach through Scouting, but it was a very rocky road getting there. There have been very few things I have tried I have not failed at, but I usually learn from my mistakes. In many ways OA leadership and camp leadership taught me all the lessons that ideally should be learned in the patrol, the troop, and at JLT/NYLT. OA kept me interested in Scouting, and through circumstances and experiences I would eventually come to know all the stuff one associates with things like "Eagle Scout" and "Lodge Chief" but only after the fact.

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I wonder if there are any politicians among forum members who can add to this conversation? I have noticed what seems to be their total absence over the years while there seems to be a smattering of nearly every other avocation.

As to Beavah's topic question, I wonder if it's really any different today than it has been in the past at different times? Perhaps we think the exceptions (Lincoln, Roosevelt, Eisenhour, etc.) were the norm for the past. Maybe the others were forgettable or maybe we just try to forget them.

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This is the area where Scouting and I tend to disagree quite a bit.

 

Voting is of course the American way of doing things, of selecting people to function in behalf of others. However, it is not a fool-proof system. And in the final analysis of the situation, do we want our troops run as effectively and efficiently as the US government seems to run things? If so, accept it as is and let it go. It's not going to be an effective, well run organization under these circumstances.

 

I have been involved in other screening processes that are far more effective.

 

In the business model, multiple candidates are evaluated and vetted by committees for the position before one of them is offered the position. This at least weeds out those who are not qualified and the decision is made by knowledgeable people.

 

In the religious call process, a single candidate is evaluated and vetted by a committee and if they are qualified, they are offered the position, otherwise the group goes on to the next candidate, evaluates them, but they never back the process up. If the first person was the best and the last person was the worst, they end up with the worst.

 

Of course there is the dictator model as well where a single individual selects who he/she thinks is the best qualified person. Similar to the committee selection process without the discussion/consensus option.

 

As SM I select all leaders in my troop by the dictator model. :) I watch the boys to see which one can and will do the best job for the troop and offer him the position. The success of the troop is solely in the hands of the SM who makes those decisions. If I think Joe will do the best job, he gets the offer. If not, I reserve the right to pull the rug out from under him and replace him with another leader. Kinda like getting fired for not doing the work. I do not have elections ever 6 months and live with the problems for 5-6 months until the next election. The troop can't afford to have someone slack off for 6 months and have everyone in the program set back that amount of time. Being the "dictator" means I may not choose the best candidate, but select a promising new up-start that would like to give it a shot. I can then put the best candidate in an assistant role and help support my decision, kinda like the gentleman who won the OA position but relied heavily on the vice-Chief to get him up and running. Nothing wrong with this dynamic. I just can't see wasting everyone's time for 6 months while Mr. Goof-off tries to run the troop as SPL when he was elected because his buddies thought it would be a great joke. Nope, never going to happen on my watch.

 

Right or wrong, that's the way it is done in my troop by me. I have the backing of the CC and if they don't like it, i.e. I'm not doing my job of running a successful program for the boys, they can, with my blessing, pull the rug out from under me and put someone in there that will do what they want.

 

Every organization has a way of selecting it's personnel and it would seem that the voting by charisma which tends to happen most often, seems to produce the least effective organization.

 

Your mileage may vary.

 

Stosh

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jblake47 writes:

 

I watch the boys to see which one can and will do the best job for the troop and offer him the position. The success of the troop is solely in the hands of the SM who makes those decisions. If I think Joe will do the best job, he gets the offer. If not, I reserve the right to pull the rug out from under him and replace him with another leader.

 

That is how Baden-Powell designed Scouting to work, except that he required the Scoutmaster to consult with the Court of Honor (PLC) or the Patrol as part of the process:

 

240. (i) A Patrol Leader is a Scout appointed by the S.M., in consultation with the Court of Honour or the Patrol concerned, to take charge of a Patrol of Scouts.

 

http://inquiry.net/traditional/por/groups.htm

 

However, once a Patrol Leader had been appointed in an established Troop, it was up to the Court of Honor to apply pressure to keep him from slacking off: Taking his Patrol on the same old eight-mile hike to the Old Mill every month, for instance:

 

http://inquiry.net/patrol/court_honor/coh_session.htm

 

Yours at 300 Feet,

 

Kudu

 

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This issue is not unique to scouting or american politics. Over the long course of history there have been many instances of charisma winning over ability for the leadership slot, and then failing. One partial solution for this is to look at a person's real track record. The main stream media and the electorate chose to ignore Obama's lack of a track record of bona fide achievement and executive experience and went with the charisma. We got we voted for.

 

So too with elective PORs in a unit. Perhaps candidates should be required to prepare some kind of written summary of their qualifications and achievements ahead of time. Some, if not a majority, of the scouts in the electorate would at least look at and consider such a record.

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One of this year's Ig Noble Prize winners from Harvard's center for Improbable Reserach focused on various ways of promoting people in organizations. It found that in fact random promotion did a better job of promoting qualified and capable people than other more traditional methods. Basically it showed that under normal conditions people are promoted to the level of their own incompetence, not the level of their competence.

 

I knew of two youth both from the same troop and both with very similar backgrounds and training. Both of them were leaders in the lodge. One had ambition for higher office, the other not so much. The one with the ambition attained lodge chief, and could eventually have made it farther, but basically burned out and dropped off the radar after his term. The other was in almost every way more capable and even more popular, and could have easily gone on to a position beyond lodge level, but was satisfied with being a lodge vice chief.

 

Interestingly when it comes to OA officers on the national and region levels, and somewhat with section chiefs, too, there are some funny trends. For one, almost all of them became Arrowmen at a younger than average age. I used what limited information I could find to check this and couldn't find a national chief of recent years that wasn't a member by 13 (in contrast OA once had an age minimum of 14) with some being as early as 11. Another trend has to do with the fact that virtually none of them make it to that level on their own. They had brothers, or fathers, or Scoutmasters, or lodge advisers who have a history of higher level involvement. Take as an example Ray Capp's (current National OA Committee Chairman, and really great guy) scout troop and the number of lodge and section officers it has turned out as an outstanding case, with obviously his son's term as national chief highlighting it.

 

Sometimes this is a case of the careful creation of dynasties and things of that sort.

 

More often what it is though, is the fact that most knowledge can't be passed along through formalized training. The fact is you pick up a lot around the dinner table and the campfire and on those long van rides and such that others never have the chance at knowing. As an example, I know things about my father's trade and business that people on the job don't know, and that comes from 20 years of listening and learning that can't be made into a class.

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