A Boy Scout Troop is actually run by its boy leaders. With the guidance of the Scoutmaster and his assistants, they plan the program, conduct Troop Meetings, and provide leadership among their peers.
From the time a boy first joins Scouting, he receives leadership training. Patrol Leaders are elected by their peers to six-month terms. As Scouts mature in the Troop, they become directly responsible for the development of the younger Scouts. The Troop is led by its elected Senior Patrol Leader, who leads meetings and campouts. The Patrol Leaders Council (PLC), which is made up of the Senior Patrol Leader, Patrol Leaders, and several other Youth Leaders should have been leading your Troop: planning the Troop Meetings and campouts. For Scouts above First Class, leadership and service are more important than earning merit badges.
Leadership Development is one of Scouting's methods. The Boy Scout program encourages boys to learn and practice leadership skills. Every Scout has the opportunity to participate in both shared and total leadership situations. Understanding the concepts of leadership helps a Scout accept the leadership role of others and guides him toward the citizenship aim of Scouting.
Developing leadership skills within the Scout membership is an essential part of the Troop’s mission. And the only way to learn leadership is to practice it by holding leadership responsibilities. Scouts are expected to serve in leadership positions in the Troop or in their Patrol, in order for the Troop to conduct business, and as a requirement in the Star, Life, and Eagle Scout ranks.
Tips for Being a Good Leader
1. Keep Your Word. Don't make promises you can't keep.
2. Be Fair to All. A good leader shows no favorites. Don’t allow friendships to keep you from being fair to all members of your Troop. Know who likes to do what, and assign duties to Scouts by what they like to do.
3. Be a Good Communicator. You don't need a commanding voice to be a good leader, but you must be willing to step out front with an effective "Let's go." A good leader knows how to get and give information. He helps his followers understand when they are doing something that does not help the group accomplish the goal and he gives them guidance on how to do the right thing. Often when Scouts aren’t doing what the leader wants, it is because the leader did not do a very good job of explaining the task to them.
4. Be Flexible. A leader is a problem solver. No matter how well an activity is planned, there will be things that don’t go according to plan. When problems arise, you must consider all available information and make a decision on how to resolve that problem. If it is not safe or practical to follow the plan, you may need to revise the plan, or even redefine the final goals.
5. Be Organized. The time you spend planning will be repaid many times over. At meetings, record who agrees to do each task, and fill out the duty roster before going camping. Make sure that the Scouts you’re leading on outings are safe and have sufficient food and water to remain healthy and productive. Make sure they have the proper training and tools to do their tasks.
6. Delegate. Some leaders assume that the job will not get done unless they do it themselves, but this is not leadership. The leader coordinates all the activities of others to make sure the final goal is reached. He considers everyone’s talents and decides which tasks each member is given, and then makes sure they understand their assignment. The leader takes care of his team.
7. 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.
8. Be Consistent. Nothing is more confusing than a leader who is one way one moment and another way a short time later. If your Patrol knows what to expect from you, they will more likely respond positively to your leadership.
9. Give Praise. The leader gets the job done and keeps the group together. Getting the job done is fairly easy to understand. Keeping the group together means you help the group to enjoy the activity, feel appreciated for their efforts, and earn a sense of pride in the accomplishments of the group. A leader continually encourages his followers and gives them positive feedback on what they do well. Often a "Nice job" is all the praise necessary to make a Scout feel he is contributing to the group efforts.
10. Ask for Help. Don't 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 direction. A good leader will also consider advice and suggestions from others, but in the end, the leader must make the final decisions. He will listen to the Troop’s Adult Leaders and Parents because they have many years of experience to share. However, be careful that the well-meaning Adults don’t lead anything that you are responsible for. During activities where an Adult's skill or knowledge is required, the Adults often tend take over the leadership role. Let them know that you appreciate their guidance and suggestions, but respectfully remind them that you are the leader of your assignment, project, Patrol or Troop.
Leadership is a very rewarding activity. As the leader, you should feel a sense of pride for what your team accomplished under your guidance. A well-led activity is also rewarding for those who follow. In the end, the goal is reached and the team feels good about their collective accomplishment. The leadership skills you have learned in Scouting and developed by the time you complete your Eagle Project will serve you throughout your life.