It’s the time of year when we look back on our past experiences and accomplishments over the previous twelve months and make resolutions on what we’re going to change and improve in the year ahead.
In Scouting, sometimes our new year’s resolutions arise out of our unit’s performance on our annual Journey to Excellence evaluation. JTE makes it easy to see where we’re doing well and lacking, and can give us some impetus to make changes. (Next year’s evaluation form should make it easier to tell how we’re doing.)
One of the key areas that many units can improve on is leader training. Some may view it as a hassle, or an optional extra – you may figure that all you have to do is follow the handbooks.
But unless you are trained, how will you know what your job is?
Scouters offer many excuses for not getting trained, and they closely parallel what you’ll find in business and industry. Many organizations don’t train their leaders, giving a variety of reasons. Kevin Eikenberry details nine of them in a blog post, and we can see some similarities:
- Leadership training doesn’t work. True, it doesn’t work – but only if you go to training with a closed mind, or decide to ignore what’s taught in training, thinking you know a better way. It’s also true that you can’t train leaders in one sitting; leadership development is an ongoing process, where the only way to learn to be a leader is to be a leader.
- We are too busy to do training. You may think that you give plenty of time to Scouting – planning and running den and pack meetings or working with your troop’s youth – and you can’t spare any more time for something like training. Realize, though, that training pays dividends. You’ll learn how to do more in less time – and do it right – and gain a clearer understanding of why you’re doing what you do so that the what you do makes more sense.
- I figured it out; so can they. If you didn’t get trained yourself, you don’t value training, and you don’t encourage others to get trained either. My first mentor in Scouting – our Cubmaster, Craig Miller – emphasized the importance of leader training when he recruited me to be a den leader, and I’ve never regretted taking it. It was an eye-opener in that it introduced me to Scouting and pointed me in the right direction, and while I certainly didn’t learn it all in one day, I got a better understanding of what I needed to know.
- Our leaders are doing OK. Things are going fine. You always recruit boys in the fall, you have monthly pack meetings, and your boys are getting their rank advancements. You go camping every month and your Scouts are earning merit badges. But are you really doing OK? Or are you doing just OK? Without training, you don’t know how to move your unit beyond just OK and toward high performance.
This is just a sampling of excuses that Scouters and business leaders alike give for not valuing training. Read Kevin’s post and see if you can find any of your own reasoning in what he writes.
Fortunately for Scouters, training isn’t hard to come by. All Cub Scout leader basic training is available online, so you don’t even need to leave the comforts of home to take the first step. The same applies to troop committee members. Only Scoutmasters and assistant Scoutmasters need to take their training in person, but it will be fun and you’ll learn a lot. And basic training is just that – basic. There are many other opportunities to hone your skills as a Scout leader. These are all yours for the taking, so resolve to take advantage of the opportunities and get trained!