Patrol Leadership tips
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Here are some tips for being a Patrol Leader. Feel free to add your own tips to the list.
Tips for Patrol Leaders
- When giving orders:
- Avoid giving orders you are unable to enforce in some way.
- Avoid unnecessary orders.
- Be polite when giving orders, don't shout them, be calm.
- Avoid vague orders or too many i.e. do this and that and this and that and on and on.... Order, Counter-order and DIS-order is the result.
- Example is a good order. If you want the pots cleaned, start cleaning one yourself, then ask so and so to help you, then take other pots, clean the table and so on, eventually you'll have everyone working with and for you.
- Keep your word. Don't make promises you cannot keep.
- Be Fair to All. A good leader shows no favourites. Do not allow friendships to keep you from being fair to all members of your patrol. Find out who likes to do what, and assign duties to patrol members by what they like to do best.
- Be a Good Communicator. You do not need a loud voice to be a good leader, but you must be willing to step out in front with an effective 'Let's go for it!' A good leader knows how to get and give information so that everyone understands what is going on. No-one can read your mind.
- Be Flexible. Not everything goes as planned. Be prepared to shift to 'Plan B' when 'Plan A' doesn't work.
- Be Organised. The time you spend planning will be repaid many times over. Take notes; keep records.
- Delegate. Some leaders assume that a job will not get done if they don't do it themselves. Wrong! Most people like to be challenged with a new task. Get your patrol to try things they have never done before. Do not try to do everything yourself. Sharing jobs and fun is a much more rewarding way.
- Set an Example. The most important thing you can do is 'Lead by Example'. Whatever you do, your patrol members are likely to do the same. A cheerful attitude can keep everyone's spirits up. "Laugh, and the world laughs with you…."
- Be Consistent. Nothing is more confusing to a young Scout than a leader who stands on their feet one day, and on their head the next. If your patrol knows what to expect from you, they will be more likely to respond positively to your leadership.
- Give Praise. The best way to get credit is to give it away. Often a "Nice job" remark is all the praise necessary to make a Scout feel they are contribution to the efforts of the patrol.
- Ask for Help. Never be embarrassed to ask for help. You have many resources at your disposal. When confronted with a situation you don't know how to handle, ask someone with more experience for some advice and guidance. They too will learn much from you.
Getting the best out of other people
Learning from those who have experienced success in leadership, here follows a list of tips on how to go about winning people over to your side.
- Be patient with people and be kind to them. Never underestimate the power of caring and kindness; our fourth part of the Scout Law tells us this if nothing else.
- Try the Scout slogan of doing a Good Turn to your people every day - and remember that the best kind of Good Turn is one where no-one else knows you are doing it.
- If someone makes a mistake or does something bad, don't criticise them as a person. The best way to be sure your fellow does no make the same mistake again is to make them feel good about themself.
- Always keep your word, your promise and be honest - A Scout's Honour is to be trusted. Your Patrol members will forgive you almost everything except dishonesty.
- Think good, and say good, of other people, and expect good from them, and in most cases that good will follow.
- Good communication means listening - really listening to the other fellow's point of view, and not always being so keen to make sure he hears you.
- Praise and thank people whenever you can - as long as you are sincere.
- Remember the Law of the Jungle from Kipling's Jungle Book: "When you fight with a wolf of the Pack, fight them alone and afar; lest others take part in the quarrel, and the pack be diminished by war".
- Be willing to help your fellow Patrol members always. Sometimes this might mean letting them know they have done something wrong - don't shy from that, as long as it is done kindly.
- Have fun with your Patrol members - laugh, take time off for just being friends together.
Things to avoid as a Patrol Leader
- Don't make fun of other Scouts, as this destroys their spirit.
- Don't criticise someone who has made a mistake if they honestly tried their best.
- Don't expect others to do things that you can't or won't do (rather lead by example).
- Don't do everything yourself. A good leader delegates tasks to those who are capable. By delegating, you are giving your patrol members a sense of responsibility which helps develop them and leads to a good Patrol spirit.
- Don't be so 'high and mighty' that you can't join in with your Patrol. If you form a senior Scout clique during Scout meetings, you are letting your Patrol down.
- Don't get power crazy.
How you know your team is NOT working
- Individual attendance is spotty or inconsistent.
- Meetings are irregularly held and sometimes consist of extended periods of games or goofing off interspersed with something resembling a meeting.
- There's no youth in charge, but perhaps a single individual who tries to rally the group into doing something constructive.
- The adults are frequently telling the youth what to do, or are disciplining youth who are out of line.
- Teams are organized haphazardly, by age group, or without consideration to a mix of senior and junior members.
- The older youth are inadequately prepared to train the younger members, or have not attended any junior leader training in more than a couple of years.