Stop telling and start guiding

guide_200As adults, we sometimes feel the need to improve the flow in our troops. When this happens, it’s all too easy to tell our Scouts what to do. Have you ever directed the setup of a weekend campout, or stepped in to “help” the boys run their troop meeting?

Should we be doing these things? To get the answer, we need to examine what our role truly is. Adults exist in Scouting so the boys can have a youth-led organization. It’s not up to us to see that things run smoothly. It is up to us to ensure that the youth leadership have the tools and resources they need in order to run their troop.

In a recent article in the blog of Aspire Collaborative Services, author Mary Jo Asmus suggests we should stop telling them what to do. She writes from a corporate project management standpoint, but you could easily extend the meaning to Scouting. Adults are perhaps the project managers, and Asmus would like is to look at the relationship between the managers and the workers with an eye toward guiding with broad concepts rather than concentrating on specifics. She points out that doing so will set free not only the workers but the managers, since the workers will be free to carry out their jobs their own way, and the managers will be free to think of broader concepts and set direction more effectively than if they involved themselves in every little detail and decision.

In a troop, we can do this with our Scouts by making sure that we help them understand the broad concepts of Scouting, but leave the detail and planning up to them. We aren’t managing their projects (meetings, outings and adventures) for them but we are managing the resources and mentoring that they need in order to carry out their plans. We can think of the big picture – the transformation and maintenance of a boy-led troop – instead of having to worry about every little detail that goes into planning and carrying out activities. By giving the boys responsibility to figure things out for themselves, not only will they get it right most of the time but they will astonish us with their thought process and resourcefulness.

Don’t take away a valuable opportunity for the boys! Guide them, don’t tell them what to do, and watch them prosper.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

This post first appeared on Bobwhite Blather.
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