Tim's Takeover: What Is Good Leadership?

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There were many fascinating comments on the last blog that seemed to capture not only the core purpose of Scouting, but also the importance of adult leadership. That set me thinking about how we recognise good leadership. I’m thinking not only about leaders working with young people but also the other leadership positions in Scouting: Group Scout Leaders, District Commissioners, County/Area Commissioners and so on.

The influence of leaders

We can sometimes underestimate the influence that we have as leaders in Scouting – both as leaders of young people and of adults. I think back to the influences on me as a young person and the role model that was set by my leaders. I particularly remember Richard and Mike Lord – twins who were Assistant Scout Leaders when I was a Scout (Patrol Leader of the Eagles as it happens). They provided a sense of fun and adventure together with a real purpose for what we were doing in the Troop. When I became a Scout Leader I often thought back to how Richard and Mike did things and used their example to guide me.

Good leadership

When I became a District Commissioner, I was given some very sound advice by a good friend of my father – Tony Wigley. He noted that sometimes it is not necessary to rush into a problem at full speed in order to solve it. Sometimes, he said, it is right to allow a little time so that you are clear what the problem is before you try and solve it. And how many times have Tony’s words proved to be correct!

I believe that good leadership is not just about dealing with the good times – but also about the hard decisions that we have to make. Perhaps good leadership is needed and tested more in the difficult times. Often the hard decision, the decision that really won’t make you very popular at the time, is exactly the right decision to make.

In order to make good decisions, we have to be very clear about what we are trying to achieve. It is vital to have the 'big picture' for Scouting in our minds, not just the immediate problem. I believe that today’s Scouting requires and deserves people with a clear vision – whether that is in the Group, the District, the County or nationally.

I believe also that good leadership is about making things happen – rather than just talking about it. Good leaders initiate change that is sensible and appropriate, they help others to see the sense of direction and embrace changes that keep the Movement alive and relevant. In today’s fast moving world, standing still is the best way of going backwards.

The challenges that face Scouting

Right now, Scouting is enjoying a great period of growth. Many people have worked very hard for this – it didn’t just happen by accident. If we believe that our work with young people is important (and I certainly think that it is) then we have to ensure that we can continue to grow so that we can provide Scouting to even more young people.

We face a number of challenges in this: the very fact that we are growing is a challenge as we meet the demand for Scouting in more places and from more people; but also the changing world around us is a challenge as new legislation affects us and new generations of young people come along with different ideas and expectations.

To meet these challenges it seems to me that we need to ensure that we provide good leadership in all parts of the Movement. Leadership that provides a sense of direction, embraces change and, above all else, achieves results.

Over to you

If I was asked to define good leadership in Scouting then I think I’d say something like 'a person who has a vision, gets on well with people and encourages others to make changes to improve Scouting.' How would you define good leadership in Scouting?

When you find that you have a few moments on your hands, you might think about good leaders that you have known and work out what it was that made them good. Please share your ideas on good leadership in the Movement so that we can all learn from them.

As a final thought, can you imagine how brilliant our Scouting would be if we did just half the things that we think other leaders should do?

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