Start leading before you become a leader!

32777j4qd2i3v6kWhen did you become a leader?

Was it when someone anointed you the head of something and you took charge? Did you volunteer for a job in your unit? Did everyone else take a step backward when Sarge called for “volunteers” to step forward?

Those are ways to take on a leadership role, but there are others that don’t even involve having “leader” in the title!

In everything you do, you can do what leaders do. Remember, leadership is service – it’s helping others succeed, and in that way we can all be leaders without having the formal title.

In his leadership blog, Art Petty suggests that if you would like to be considered for a promotion,  you can start leading before you’re given the official title. He offers several examples, ranging from stepping into a sticky situation to volunteering to head up planning the office picnic.

In Scouting, we understand the meaning of leadership and strive to offer opportunities where everyone can practice it – not just Scouts, but adults too. Boys can be elected to leadership roles in their patrols, but they can also take charge of the campout shopping and cooking for their patrol, to make or maintain the patrol flag and totems, or to clean and maintain the gear in the patrol box. Certainly, boys can volunteer for troop-wide positions of responsibility such as Scribe or Quartermaster, but they can also take on key roles relating to court of honor planning, keeping track of first aid supplies, or leading the troop’s skit for the next camporee.

Adults, likewise, can be Scoutmaster or assistant Scoutmaster or serve on the troop committee, but they can also volunteer to help others in ways like making campout arrangements, heading up a money-earning project or working with new parents to help them understand the Scouting program. Art Petty also brings up a point we often stress as well: To be a good leader, be a good follower. It’s a great way to build trust and you get a better insight into what leadership means.

You may not be bucking for a big promotion in your troop or pack, but you can lead by helping others lead. It’s good practice for the real world – for both our boys and the adults. Boys don’t learn leadership by watching others lead; they learn by doing, by practicing it themselves. We can, too, in an environment where we can all take turns, try and fail, and come out better for the experience.


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