Historical Background
of Leadership Development:

Troop Leader Development, 1974


The concepts of leadership development, including the eleven skills of leadership, were formally incorporated into Wood Badge in 1971, and into Junior Leader Training in 1973. The Troop Leader Development Staff Guide (for the Junior Leader program) and the Wood Badge Guide Staff Guide (for adults) were adapted to include much of the material originally developed as part of the White Stag program. The historical background of the training was presented in the first edition of the TLD Staff Guide in 1974.



Excerpted from the Troop Leader Development Staff Guide, Boy Scouts of America, 1974.

Back in the 1930's social scientists began to examine leadership. Through these studies, it was determined that leadership is something people do, and therefore the premise was developed that it is possibly something that people can learn to do.

One of the more famous studies identified leadership in three areas: (1) laissez-faire, (2) authoritarian, and (3) democratic. These studies reinforced the notion that over a long period the most productive groups were those identified with the democratic style of leadership. That is, the people had a part in the decision-making and in the development of a project, and the group was strengthened through this process. This, of course, supports the basic plan that we have had in Scouting since the days of Baden-Powell, known as the patrol method.

Back in the 1960's the armed forces of the United States became concerned about the quality of leadership among noncommissioned officers. Experiments were carried out in noncommissioned officer schools at Fort Hood in California. Several Scouters from the Monterey Bay Area Council learned of this program and designed a junior leadership training experience using some of the competencies or skills of leadership identified in this Army training, and it was known as the "White Stag" program.

This program came to the attention of the Boy Scouts of America through a member of the national Scouting committee. As a result of several conferences, it was felt there were grounds for the Research Service to take a closer look at this White Stag program to determine the value of this approach to adult and boy leader growth.

By the mid-1960's a "blueprint for action" had been developed and approved through the Research Service to continue experimentation in the leadership development concept for adult and boy leaders. The first experience was conducted at the Schiff Scout Reservation in June 1967, using the Wood Badge as a vehicle to transmit this information and concept to participants selected from nine councils across the country. This first experience, although very crude, produced enthusiastic participants, and it was not long before five of these councils were selected to conduct experimental Wood Badge sessions using a careful monitoring and evaluating plan to develop further input into this leadership development concept.

By 1969 it was determined to expand leadership development to junior leader training in these five local councils. It proved to be successful, but the experimentation did not stop here. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund was approached to underwrite continued experimentation and evaluation at the two national junior leader instructor training areas located at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and the Schiff Scout Reservation in New Jersey.

In 1971 more than 800 young men aged 13-17 experienced the leadership development idea at Philmont. This was evaluated by volunteers during a five-day conference held at the Rayado site on the Philmont Ranch. The unanimous decision of this group was to move ahead with leadership development.

Also about this time the framework for the improved Scouting program to be launched in September 1972 was being created. An idea for the 14- and 15-year-old members of a Scout troop to be known as the leadership corps was developed and included in the leadership development program. In 1972 councils were invited from all over the country to send representatives to experience the leadership development idea at the Philmont and Schiff sites. Also in 1972, the leadership development concept was fully integrated into the Wood Badge curriculum. Every course conducted in the United States in 1972 included the leadership development idea. Scoutmasters were getting this information to help themselves and to help the troop leaders who would be experiencing this course in every council beginning in the year 1973.

In the summer of 1972 the people associated with the Rockefeller Foundation requested that this program be evaluated by an outside source; hence the Management Analysis Center of Cambridge, Mass., was contracted to make an independent analysis of this experience by interviewing participants, staff members, and parents to determine Scouts' attitudes toward understanding the different aspects of leadership before and after they had completed this program. In their report, the Management Analysis Center indicated that the educational methods being used in leadership development are consistent with both the current state of knowledge concerning the conditions under which people learn most effectively and within the current practice in the best leadership development programs available to managers in both public and private organizations.


Much of the original leadership development material, including the eleven skills of leadership, remain the core of the leadership experience in Wood Badge and the Junior Leader Training Conference today.


  "Learning About Leadership" is adapted from Patrol and Troop Leadership, the handbook on leadership development written for Patrol Leaders and published by the Boy Scouts of America in 1972. It provides some excellent background and insight into the BSA's approach to the subject of leadership.
  From 1990 to 1993, the Junior Leader Training Conference program received an intensive review. A new Junior Leader Training Conference Staff Guide was published in 1993. Comments on the 1995 Revisions takes a close-up look at the most recent changes published in the 1995 printing.
  The Troop Leader Development Staff Guide (1974) presented a short history of leadership development and how elements of the White Stag program were incorporated into the leadership development efforts of the BSA in The Historical Background of Leadership Development
  Since the first experimental leadership development courses at Schiff and Philmont in the 1960's, the National Junior Leader Instructor Camp has set the standards for Junior Leader Training courses in councils across the country. A unique experience in leadership and learning, NJLIC leads the way by providing the most up-to-date training for those junior leaders selected to lead their local council courses.

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Last Modified: 8:05 AM on 1-24-2011