Here is some great advice on proper delegation in Scouting that I recently ran across in an old pamphlet published by the Boy Scouts of Canada in the 1960’s:
The Importance of Delegation
The Scout way of running things by the Patrol System is an excellent way for young men to get practice in leadership. Learning how to be a leader through trial and error alone is a very hard task. That is why the Patrol system is great because Patrol Leaders can get advice and training in this from older Scouts and leaders in the Troop. One thing in particular which is very important for Patrol Leaders to learn is how to properly delegate responsibilities.
Society is filled with employers and leaders who never learned how to properly delegate. If they are a type-A personality, they try to micromanage everything under them. This results in burn-out, inefficiency, and bad relations with subordinates. If they have an easy-going, type-B personality, they will try to run things in a very laissez-faire manner. This generally causes a lack of communication, a misunderstanding of expectations/responsibilities, and a lack of productivity.
In a properly run Troop, Patrol Leaders are given real and free-handed responsibility. They soon find that they too must give responsiblities to the individual Scouts in the Patrol. The Patrol Leader will find that he cannot be the Cook, the Quartermaster, the Scribe, the Gamemaster, the Event Coordinator, and etc. all at the same time. But then, if no one takes care of all these little things, the Patrol doesn’t work and the Scouts won’t have much fun. Hopefully, he is taught (both directly and through example) that proper delegation is the solution.
This solution does more than just helping things run a lot more smoothly. Delegating all of the micro-responsibilities among members of the Patrol also keeps them active by making them a vital part of the Patrol. They will also get a chance to practice exercising leadership in small ways themselves.
How to Delegate
The quote above is an excellent summary of how delegation works. It is more of an art than a science. The Patrol Leader must really know the members of his Patrol. He must get acquainted with each Scout’s strengths, weaknesses, and skills. He then must fit them to the different responsibilities inherant in running a Patrol. During both the normal course of meetings and during camping trips, he must make sure each Scout is clearly aware of his duties.
As he supervises the Scouts and makes sure everthing is being accomplished, he should let each Scout do the task in the way that seems best to them. If the standards are clearly communicated and the method of the Scout falls short, the Patrol Leader should guide and encourage the Scout to a better way. As the quote above said, he shouldn’t nag or manipulate the Scout into doing it his way.
When all is said and done, the real responsibility that a Patrol Leader has means that he is held responsible for how well his Patrol does. Where confusion, frustration, and a lack of progress are found, likely they will be accompanied by a lack of good delegation. Spare no pains in teaching the members of your Troop what proper delegation is and how it works. It will save them so much trouble throughout the rest of their lives!
Call to Action
Call a special meeting with the Patrol Leaders in your Troop and talk with them about the importance of delegation. If you don’t teach them, who will? Tell them about how to properly delegate and how it can make their Patrol a better Patrol. Plan to have a follow-up meeting in a month or two and talk about what went well and any problems/questions the Patrol Leaders might have faced.
Thank you for reading this post! I hope you enjoyed it! Have anything you’d like to add? Please leave a comment in the box below. Good delegation is something that needs to be rediscovered in Scouting. Please take a moment to share this post with your Scouting friends!