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Knowing and Using the Resources of the Group

Understanding Characteristics and Needs of the Group

Representing the Group

Setting the Example


Controlling Group Performance


Effective Teaching

Styles of Leadership


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The Leadership Skills
Presented at Wood Badge

The mission statement of the Boy Scouts of America states; "It is the mission of the Boy Scouts of America to serve others by helping to instill values in young people and, in other ways, to prepare them to make ethical choices during their lifetime in achieving their full potential."

Bringing home the values of Scouting requires the effective training of adult leaders in understanding how youth grow and develop, in creating an environment for learning and growth, and in providing youth with activities and meaningful experiences that reinforce positive values. The adult role model has always been one of Scouting's methods. Caring adults interested in the welfare, growth, and in the positive development of youth, have been a hallmark of Scouting since its earliest years. Our example as adult leaders is the starting point. Scouting works with adults who care about Scouting, live by its values, and care about Scouts.

Wood Badge is the most advanced training available to adult leaders. It teaches the same leadership skills or principles which are taught in management training courses offered all over the world. While the skills presented are sound management techniques, they are presented the the environment of Boy Scouting, with the application of those skills geared towards the Boy Scout Troop.

While there are vast amounts of resources available regarding leadership skills, a better learning experience can be obtained, if a person will just let them happen as they are presented in the context of the Wood Badge course. It is common today to hear, "I need to know what is expected of me." Nothing is expected of a participant regarding prior knowledge of the leadership skills presented at Wood Badge.

Having the knowledge before hand usually will make a person complacent about note taking and listening (see the Communicating leadership skill below). If we see it, hear it, and write it down, we have a much greater chance of remembering it. Wood Badge in large part uses the technique of "Experiential Learning", or learning by experience. The course material is presented in such a manner that a participant first recognizes a need to learn, then has the opportunity to learn, and finally gets to practice what was learned.

Don't pre-prepare for the leadership skills, or don't go out and get the book knowledge about the leadership techniques taught at Wood Badge. The most effective preparation a person can make for Wood Badge is to identify potential ticket items. An important part of each leadership skill is to identify how you can use the leadership skills to accomplish a ticket item. So having the items prepared ahead of time allows a participant to focus on application of the leadership skill rather than trying to identify a ticket item. (See the "What is a Ticket" page on this site for additional information.)

The following is a list of the leadership skills presented at Wood Badge as well as short explanation adapted from the 1981 printing of the Scoutmaster Handbook.

  • Communicating - As a leader you both get and give information. You must be able to do both of these well. Learn to take notes when there is a lot of detail. Ask questions after giving or receiving instructions. Get feedback to make sure the message gets through. Don't give orders; discuss things that are going to happen. Measure your success in terms of the job getting done and the degree to which instructions are followed. Good communications fosters good morale, poor communications can bring mumbling and dissent.
  • Knowing and Using the Resources of the Group - A leader has to depend on what the members of the group can do as well as what the leader can do. In order to use these available resources a leader must know what they are. Find out what they are by observing, asking the members as well as other leaders. When you are using the resources of the group others will lead and the program will not be the result of your ideas alone.
  • Understanding Characteristics and Needs of the Group - When this skill is used properly a leader will give other what they need to grow -- not what the leader thinks they need. Each person has certain strengths and weaknesses. When a leader understands individual needs everyone benefits. The patrol leaders' council applies this skill since the purpose of the PLC is to plan and run the program of the troop that will meet the needs and desires of the Scouts.
  • Representing the Group - This skill is the Patrol Method in action. Patrol leaders take the ideas and problems of the patrol members to the Patrol Leaders' Council (PLC) and then will bring back the decisions of the PLC to the patrol. Success can be measured by each Scout feels he has a part in troop decisions.
  • Setting the Example - What you are speaks louder than what you say. The old saying "Do as I say, not as I do" will not work. You will lose valuable influence if you do not live up to the standards that you recommend, or the the Scout ideals that you teach. This ranges from simple things like wearing a complete uniform to your behavior as an individual. Scouts need a model to follow, their leaders may be the only good example they know.
  • Planning - The core of a successful program is planning. A successful scout-lead program comes from planning good troop programs in the Patrol Leaders' Council. It takes a while to develop the ability of the PLC to plan good troop programs, but it is well worth your effort. You cannot achieve Scouting's aims of building character, fostering citizenship and developing fitness, without good plans. The planning process is working when the junior leaders are involved in planning and carrying out the troops programs.
  • Controlling Group Performance - The purpose of this skill is to control the performance of a group so that it will be successful in doing its job and to have fun in the process. This means the troop has good meetings, activities, and camping trips. Along the way, the members have fun, are in good spirits, become better Scouts and help to build stronger patrols. Sometimes controlling group performance means you will have to stop behavior that negatively impacts the group, but everyone is happier if the group helps to control itself rather than depend on the leader to do all the controlling. Use the Patrol Leaders' Council to control the troop.
  • Evaluating - Evaluating should be done both during and after every activity. Each activity should have a definite goal with Scouting's Aims and Methods used as the guideline (see chapter 6 "The Aims and Methods of Scouting" in the 1993 printing of the Scoutmaster Handbook).
  • Effective Teaching - This is not a new method of teaching, Scouting has used it since 1910. The difference is today we do not assume that just because we have taught that Scouts have learned. The proof lies in what they can DO. If they can do something then you have successfully taught. The key is to actively involve the Scouts in the learning process by giving them choices as to what they can learn, and by checking constantly to see what they have learned. Find out what they know, put them into a situation where they recognize the need to know, then offer them the opportunity to learn. Place the emphasis on the learner not the teacher.
  • Sharing Leadership or Styles of Leadership - With the responsibility of leadership goes trust. The effective leader must adjust his leadership style to fit the situation without giving up the responsibility for the welfare of the troop. The secret is to share the leadership allowing everyone to join and share in the responsibility without giving up the role as a leader.
  • Counseling - A Leader must be able to counsel Scouts in order to help them. Listening is the most important key to counseling. Be careful not to give advice, instead use questions to help the individual arrive at their own solution to the problem. Feel free to give factual information, but cautious about giving advice. A person grows if he is able to think problems through for himself. Be a facilitator not a manipulator.

Top These general and very brief descriptions of the leadership skills do not do justice to the presentations of the complete leadership skills as given at the Wood Badge course. The key points are specifically not shown so that it will not detract from your experience at Wood Badge. In addition to the leadership skill presentations there are numerous opportunities to practice using the skill during the practical phase of the course and while you work your ticket.

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Copyright � 1996-2000, Mike Barnard. All rights reserved. This material is for personal use only. Republication and redissemination, including posting to news groups, is expressly prohibited without prior written consent.  Last Modified: 12:04 on November 29, 2002.

Views expressed on these pages may not necessarily represent those of the Boy Scouts of America. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, nothing here should be interpreted as official policy.

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