Blog | How to choose your peer leaders
Peer leadership is a great way to support young people to develop skills that are useful and relevant for later life. So what is the best approach to choosing those leadership positions?
Scouting helps young people with a range of skills that will help them thrive in different environments and make significant contributions to society. Developing leadership skills in young people has always been and continues to be an important part of Scouting, and we can do this by giving them the opportunity to hold peer leadership positions. It’s a chance for them to assert themselves and develop self-confidence as leaders within their sections.
But what is the best approach to take when choosing your peer leaders? How do you ensure it’s fair and that those who need it the most are given the opportunity? We asked you to share some of the methods you use with us and here are some of the responses we got:
- In Andy’s Group, it’s common for the quieter children to be chosen as Sixers in an effort to improve self-confidence. On other occasions, it’s young people who find listening more challenging with the aim of giving them more responsibility and for them to experience the importance of listening skills first hand.
- In Muriel’s Group when choosing her Sixers they focus on young people who have a good attendance record, who listen, who show commitment and a capacity to take the initiative and to follow instructions.
- Rachel said that the decision is made based on natural leadership qualities, attendance and personality, regardless of age.
- Alexandra’s Group follows a specific system in which anyone interested in a peer leadership role gets to do a small pitch in front of their peers. Then the whole Group, including leaders, cast a vote. In the case of a draw, leaders cast the deciding vote. Alexandra says this gives the young people the opportunity to present, influence and work out what’s important to them by also taking part in the decision making process.
- Similar to Alexandra, Julie’sGroup also holds elections and they do it every six months. They host a candidature event for everyone who is interested in running for peer leadership positions. Julie says this makes the process Youth Shaped and it reminds Scouts that they are also part of running the Group. Allowing the young people to choose themselves opens up the conversation around what makes a good leader. This helps to emphasise it is about recognising the best person for the job, rather than electing out of popularity.
- For Graham, it’s all about their self-leadership. When a Peer Leader leaves the Peer Leader’s Council, they select their own replacement. Group leaders reserve the right to overturn a decision, but very rarely do so.
- In Phillip’s Group, the young people can write a short letter to apply for the role explaining why they think they would be a good peer leader.
Each section and each young person will be different, so there isn’t one approach that fits all - you could even try rotating methods. You can find more information on peer leadership and how to support your young people, here.
All young people deserve the opportunity to develop leadership skills, and it's worth remembering that the peer leadership roles are just one way that they can do this. The Teamwork and Team Leader Challenge Awards are designed to help young people develop skills in working with and supporting others, and there is guidance on supporting all young people to achieve these.