use of many skills….
Last week the patrol of which Jim is the leader made plans for their part in the troop’s three-day canoe trip. All nine members were present and all had a part in developing the plans. The overall plan had already been made by the patrol leaders’ council, so the patrol had to stay within that plan in making their own. By the time the patrol meeting broke up, every member had taken on some responsibility for the trip, either before it or during it.
A day or so before they left, Jim called each member to check on his progress. Everyone was all set except Bill. He was to act as tour navigator, but he hadn’t got the maps he needed. With Jim’s questioning, he admitted he hadn’t done much about trying to get them.
Jim then wanted to know how he planned to carry out his navigator duties if he had no maps. "Oh, I thought we’d just follow another patrol," Bill replied.
"How do you think our guys will like that?"
"Not so great I guess. What do you think I should do?" Bill sounded a little bit defeated.
"We still have a day and a half before the trip, why don’t you call the Scoutmaster and see if he has any maps. If he doesn’t, you can try Mr. Jones, who’s on the troop committee. I’m sure they’ll get the maps for you. Next time you have a job to do, let me know if you need help."
"OK, Jim, I’ll get ’em. Don’t worry."
Although Jim is the elected patrol leader, he chose to share his leadership in several ways in this situation. Did you notice how?
At the beginning, he allowed every member to take part in planning. He had to set the limits, because some things had already been decided, but within those limits, he let them plan.
Second, he had everyone share in the responsibility for a successful trip. Everyone had a job to do and, thereby, felt a part of the team.
As leader, Jim was smart enough to check on everyone. When he found Bill hadn’t done his job, he had two alternatives. He could have taken over and got the maps. Or he could persuade Bill to do his job. That was the course he chose. Do you think it was the right one?
There are two other ways in which Jim might have shared leadership. One would be the "iron hand" type where he would simply tell the patrol what was expected of them. This is the least desirable for the growth of the members and the group, but it is sometimes necessary with an we an inexperienced group or in the event of an emergency.
Another approach is for the leader to join the group as an equal and not play any leadership role at all. This is a good style for discussion and works really well when the group has all the skills to do the job.
As a leader, you can share tasks but never share final responsibility. If you assign John to cut the firewood, the task is his but the responsibility is yours. If John doesn’t have a pile of wood ready when it’s needed, you will not get off the hook by saying, "Well I gave that job to John, and it’s his fault that there’s no wood." If there is no wood, it’s your fault. Giving the job to someone doesn’t end your responsibility. It ends only when the job is done satisfactorily.
Good leadership — using several styles and approaches — will produce such results as these:
With good leadership, members of the group will continue to grow in their development as individuals because they are made to feel that they are accountable for their actions.
In your next few opportunities to lead, try using some or all of the various styles of leadership. They refer to the extent of sharing of leadership with the group, and are listed in order from the least to the most sharing:
When you have given several of these a try, then ask yourself these questions. Do you use more than one comfortably? How do you really feel about sharing leadership with the group? Do you get better results with one or more methods? How does the patrol react to each style of leadership you use? Can you combine styles?