Scouting’s “one piece of paper”

Most successful leaders didn’t get that way by accident. Leadership is a learned skill, based on guiding principles and developed through experience. For an organization, these guiding principles are usually codified in a mission statement, which members of that organization follow in carrying out their responsibilities.

In addition to a mission, true leaders need a moral compass that guides their stewardship and service within their organizations. For most, the way to arrive at which way their moral compass points is through introspection and careful consideration of their personal values and vision.

Management consultant Mike Figliuolo, founder and managing director of thoughtLEADERS L.L.C. and author of One Piece of Paper (book, Kindle) was recently interviewed by Andrew Clancy of Soundview Executive Book Summaries introducing the concept of leadership maxims as he trains in his seminars and outlines in the book. He defines “maxims” as concepts or statements that resonate within you and encourage you to change your behavior towards a greater level of leadership. His clients develop a list of 15 to 20 short statements – lyrics, thoughts, inspirations – and periodically review their progress against these maxims to ensure that they are on the right track. The title of his book comes from his advice to boil down your maxims so they fit on a single sheet of paper. Figliuolo advises us to share these maxims with those around us – team members, co-workers and family – so they can know what to expect from us and to call us out if we should stray from them.

In Scouting, the maxims for our movement are already done for us, and it certainly fits on a sheet of paper. Of course, I’m talking about the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law. It’s a great exercise to ponder from time to time how we are living up to these values, not only within Scouting but at work, church, family and community. Scouting’s values also apply to other segments of our lives just as they do when we’re working with our Scouts and in our units.

The best thing about Scouting’s values is that everyone in Scouting knows them well, so we don’t need to figure out how to share them. Rather, we can help others by living the values and guiding and encouraging others to do so through our actions. It can be helpful, though, if we take some time now and then to interpret what they mean to us. Ponder what it means to be cheerful or to help others. We can watch out for each other and model the behavior we’d like to see in others through our own.

I might also note that if you have experienced Wood Badge for the 21st Century, you most likely participated in an exercise that helps you to see where your moral compass points, and discover your personal value system. Most of us who have taken the course have gone on to use the values of the Oath and Law to guide our personal lives, and this becomes evident during the course.

Keep the “one piece of paper” philosophy in mind for whatever you do – in or out of Scouting. Our values make for great guideposts in everyday life, which, of course, is what they are intended to do.

Image: graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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