So you’ve just stepped into the job of Committee Chair for your pack or troop. Now what?
Committee Chair is an important role – indeed, the unit can’t function properly without one – but there are ways in which a person new to the position can get off to a great start without going crazy.
Hopefully, one of the first things you’ll do is read the position description in the appropriate handbook. For the pack committee chair, that’s found in the Cub Scout Leader Book, and for the troop committee chair, read the Troop Committee Guidebook. As chair, you should have a copy; if not, head for your council’s Scout shop at your earliest opportunity and pick one up (along with the position patch for your uniform, if your unit doesn’t provide you with one).
Much has been written about unit committee functions and the role of the chair including here on Bobwhite Blather. If you haven’t already, you might want to go back and read some of them when you have time:
- “So, what is it that you do?”
- The captain of the ship
- The series on effective committee meetings
- Five important skills
There’s a lot to learn right off the bat! And if you’ve never chaired a committee before, it can seem daunting. It doesn’t happen all at once but there are some ways you can add the “be” aspect to the “do” and “know”.
A recent article by Carolyn Knight in the blog of Mike Figliuolo’s* leadership training firm thoughtLEADERS, llcÂ describes five steps for new leaders to take as they approach their new position. Knight advises new leaders to cultivate and use your influence, rather than forcing or declaring what to do; be honest and transparent; listen to others and encourage them; and don’t try to do it all yourself. The article gives great examples and advice on how to set these steps in motion for yourself. It’s great reading for those new to a leadership role as well as review for experienced leaders or those changing to a new role.
Of course, if you only do one thing, be sure you take the online Troop Committee Challenge training. While this training offers more dimensions in learning when taken in person, the online version delivers the essential facts in a short period of time. Troop Committee Challenge will teach you the function of the troop committee and the roles of each of its members, in addition to the ways in which the committee supports the troop.
In future articles I’ll go more into what the committee chair does and how to attain a high-performing committee that serves and supports the boys well.
*Mike Figliuolo is also the author ofÂ One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership, which I mentioned in an earlier article, Scouting’s “One Piece of Paper“.
2 Replies to “The new Committee Chair”
If at all possible, take “Troop Committee Challenge” at a District training event with an instructor. Aside from Scoutmaster training, I think that this one course has done more to improve Scouting than any other. Whenever possible take the entire course with the games and everything. It may seem a little bit dorky but jump in and go for it.
My wife and I decided to take the course (probably at least 10/12 years ago?) so that we could be good unit committee members. I had been a Scoutmaster and held other leadership positions in Scouting so I already knew everything 🙂 My wife was new to BSA training. The course was led by a regular District volunteer who followed the sylabus. It turned out to be great and we both learned a lot. I want to emphasize that I did not say that the course was fun or that there was good food or whatever, but that we actually learned something. Since then I have pushed, shoved, cajoled every important unit committee volunteer I’ve worked with to take this course and the units have been better off because of it.
Take the online course if you must, but try to find a regular, in person, course if possible. IMHO. YMMV.
As always, thanks for a great comment. I agree 110%. Having taught several sessions of Troop Committee Challenge, I can say it’s probably one of the least-valued courses that BSA offers, yet it is of immense value to committee members and parents. Aside from the youth end of the program, there is a lot to know about troop operations. When we run the course, we rearrange some of the segments but we do use all of the material including the exercises. I applaud you for not only insisting that your committee members take the training but that they do so in person.
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