Part of your Scouting journey involves taking on leadership roles, which is great because leadership is an important skill you’ll constantly use throughout the rest of your life! Whether you’re applying for jobs or guiding your troop, leadership is one of the qualities that’ll come up again and again.
In my experience, Scouting is the perfect opportunity to learn how to become a more effective leader! In this guide, I’ll go over some of my best tips and tricks to help you become a dependable leader within your troop. When finished, you’ll be 100% prepared to successfully begin leading your fellow scouts. 😀
Understanding The Scouting Leadership Roles
There are a lot of leadership roles in Scouting, both official and unofficial. You’ll likely get experience in unofficial positions before taking on official roles by being elected as an SPL or Patrol Leader. Just remember that any role you serve in, big or small, can be a valuable learning experience!
Below are the main positions that exist in any troop. While some of these roles require more outward leadership than others, all of these positions are important and require responsibility. As a troop leader, it’s important to understand how these roles work together to keep things running smoothly.
To learn even more about each of the roles that exist, you can check out my full article on Troop Leadership Positions. However, now that you know what sorts of leadership roles exist in your troop, it’s time to learn the traits of a good scout leader. Below are the most important skills, so let’s dive into them! 🙂
The Skills Of A Great Troop Leader
Effective troop leadership requires knowledge, practice, and patience. Everyone gets better with time, so don’t feel disheartened if you don’t master these leadership skills at first. Keep reading to learn about some of the most important skills to practice in order to become a great scout leader.
Communicating With Your Fellow Scouts
Communication is key if you want to be a great troop leader who gets things accomplished. You’ll need to be able to express what you need from your group in order to make things run smoothly. This includes speaking clearly and formulating strong sentences that get your point across.
Here’s a short video (4:42) explaining the basics to becoming an effective communicator:
Scouting definitely helped me to become a better communicator in my adult life. Class presentations in college were easy, and job interviews as an Eagle Scout didn’t feel uncomfortable! Communication can be a difficult skill for some, but, as with any other skill, you’ll definitely get better with practice.
Tip: Start small. Regardless of what role you’re in, always be trying to improve your communication. You can even ask your fellow scouts for feedback: Are you articulating your point clearly? What are you doing well? What can you improve on?
Problem-Solving Scouting Challenges On The Fly
When assuming any leadership role, you’re likely to run into some problems. While problem-solving isn’t always fun, as a leader it’ll be your job to help find an appropriate solution. This is another skill that requires some practice and experience, but you’ll get the hang of it!
When faced with any problem, there are generally a few best steps to take. However, considering the situation objectively and thinking through your actions prevents key leadership mistakes, so do that first. When tackling an issue during a campout, in your troop, or during everyday life, try these steps:
- Define the problem.
- When faced with a problem, the first step is to evaluate what the problem actually is. Ask yourself, “what caused this problem?” It’s important to avoid laying blame, and instead look at the facts to figure out what is actually wrong and how you’re going to fix it.
- Create alternative solutions.
- Now that you know what the problem is, think of a few solutions. This is where teamwork comes in. Having other people pitch solutions is a great way to find alternative viewpoints that make solving an issue easier.
- Pick a solution.
- Once you’ve come up with a few good solutions, narrow it down to just one. To help with the decision, weigh the pros and cons of each option. If you’re working with others, this is another great brainstorming opportunity!
- Implement your solution.
- Now it’s time to put your selected solution into effect! Practice communicating your vision, and get your fellow scouts on the same page as you are. Work together to solve the problem quickly, and recognize everone who helps out later on!
- Finally, make sure you understand how the problem can be avoided in the future.
- Now it’s time to learn. Maybe you need to be more clear about what’s expected? Maybe some of the older scouts should be more inclusive? In any case, always try to learn from your challenges as a leader!
- Source: AmericanSocietyForQuality Leadership Article
Many problems will arise while you’re a scout, and that’s OK. Learning how to solve problems is part of becoming a successful human! Scouting is a great opportunity to hone these skills before you’re on your own. Don’t forget to include others as well — friends can be a great resource. 🙂
Being Reliable To Build Trust Within Your Troop
Reliability ties in a lot of other skills–loyalty, trustworthiness, and helpfulness–which are all points of the Scout Law. A good leader should be someone that others can rely on. By being reliable, you set a good example for the younger scouts and build trust amongst your peers.
Reliability: the quality of being able to be trusted or believed because of working or behaving wellSource: The Cambridge Dictionary
When communicating with your peers, always be honest and direct. People should be able to rely on you to be trustworthy and forthcoming, even in a difficult situation. This can be hard, but other scouts and leaders are counting on you to be present, attentive, and there for your troop.
Leading Your Fellow Scouts With Kindness
Speaking from personal experience, it can be easy to get annoyed when leading scouts who refuse to listen. This is a problem every leader has, and it’s normal. A good leader can overcome their frustration and show kindness, despite a difficult situation.
Tip: The key to showing kindness, even when it’s hard, is taking a deep breath before saying anything. While it may be your gut reaction to respond somewhat harshly, imagine if someone did the same to you. You wouldn’t want to be snapped at, so neither do those whom you’re leading.
Also, if you haven’t seen it already, you should check out my detailed article on the 5 Best Ways To Lead Difficult Scouts (Without Acting Like A Jerk!)
Show your fellow scouts respect, and it will be shown back to you. This all circles back to the Scout Law in which you promise to be kind. Diplomacy and kindness are key when leading a group, and learning these skills can truly take your leadership to the next level!
Listening To Your Troop And Patrol’s Needs
While it’s important to communicate your points, that’s only half of the equation. It’s also crucial that you actively listen to your followers. Whether someone is asking a question, providing feedback, or giving praise, listen closely to what they have to say — it helps others know that you care. 🙂
Tip: Listening and hearing are very different. Even if you’re hearing what someone’s saying to you, are you actively listening to what they’re saying? You can hear things passively, without a thought. Listening, on the other hand, requires that you process the information the other person is conveying so that you can respond accordingly.
To act as a better listener, I’d recommend paraphrasing what another person is saying back to them in your own words. This shows that you truly understand what they’re saying and makes them feel heard. You can also nod, and offer words of agreement to show that they have your full attention.
For more great insights on becoming a better listener (and leader!) check out this TED Talk (7:50). In it, the speaker provides some high-level insights that’ll definitely set you down the right path toward improving your listening as a leader.
Listening is a skill that’ll be useful in so many different aspects of your life. Even if you’re starting out with some bad habits, you CAN become a better listener and make this skill your superpower! It might take some practice, but it’ll definitely be worth it. People love to be around good listeners!
“If you make listening and observation your occupation, you will gain much more than you can by talk.”Scouting’s founder, Lord Robert Baden-Powell
Leadership As A Way Of Life – Conclusion
Even outside of troop leadership positions, there are still plenty of ways to act like a great leader in your everyday life. By following the Scout Oath and Law, taking on more responsibility, and practicing the skills we discussed earlier, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an amazing leader!
Tip: If you’re a younger scout who’s not yet in a ‘main’ leadership role like SPL or Patrol Leader, you can still voulenteer to step up within your patrol.
Here’s how — By even just saying you’ll be in charge of a task like collecting water, setting up an activity, or teaching a requirement, you can serve as a mini-leader and gain tons of experience! This will also help other scouts in your troop to start seeing you as more reliable — and leadership material.
Plus, by just having read this article, you’re already one step closer to being a great leader! Remember, the best way you can improve your skills is to practice, practice, practice. Try and step up wherever you can in order to gain more valuable leadership experience. You got this! 🙂
Also, if you’re interested in more Scouting tips, guides, and even giveaways, you definitely need to sign up for my ScoutSmarts Scribe Newsletter! In it, I’ll send you a helpful email every 2 weeks to support you on your journey to Eagle. It’ll always be free and helpful, so sign up today!