When I was elected as a Patrol Leader, I wanted to be the best possible leader for my Patrol!
I decided that I was going to try to learn how to be a good communicator, planner, and organizer. Problem is I didn’t have any leadership skills.
I was the kind of guy that preferred to stand back and let someone else take charge. I was nervous if I had to speak with authority. No matter how carefully I planned what I wanted to say, it came out awkwardly. I could imagine what it would be like to be a good leader, but I didn’t seem cut out for it.
I found out it takes more than good intentions to be a leader; you need leadership skills!
The good news is anyone can develop these skills if they are willing to work hard at it!
Leadership skills aren’t really taught in school, and you can’t learn them from TV or video games!
Where do you start?
Here are a couple of things that really helped me:
If you want to improve at something an older, wiser person you trust can advise you based on their experience. They don’t just show you how things work, they give you feedback on how well you do in different situations. That is what a mentor does.
My mentor in Scouting (and more) was my father. During camping trips he would observe how I led my Patrol. He’d take the time to talk with me about what worked and what didn’t. He would answer my questions and give me tips from his own experience.
Finding a mentor is easy! Just ask! Your mentor could be a Scoutmaster, a parent, or an older Scout.
2. Resources for Growth
There are techniques that will make you good at football or gaming and there are also techniques and principles that will help you grow your leadership skills.
But where do you find them?
I did a lot of hunting for resources about leadership skills. Articles, videos, books, and websites were all fair game!
I found some Patrol Leader handbooks and Scouting guides on the Internet. Even though they were written some time ago the writing captivated me, and the principles shaped my picture of a good leader! Here’s a quote from The Patrol Leaders’ Handbook by John Thurman:
If you are a Patrol Leader, you are not just a Patrol Leader on Tuesday evenings or in camp; you are a Patrol Leader every minute of every day and every single action and, indeed, every single thought of yours matters and is part of your leadership.
I could share hundreds of quotes like this that really helped me understand on a practical level what it means to be a leader!
One book I highly recommend titled How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie really spoke to me. I was not naturally a “people-person”, communication skills that seemed easy for others were difficult for me. I memorized the list of principles in How to Win Friends and Influence People, and it became my number-one resource for learning to communicate well with others.
It took dedication and discipline to track down and study these resources. My strong desire to be a better leader for my Patrol drove me on. The time was very well spent!
I encourage you to find resources that ‘speak’ to you, if you keep hunting you’ll find them!
Becoming a good leader takes a lot of work and effort. Hone your leadership skills and continue to get better and better. It doesn’t happen overnight! Anyone dedicated to better serving their Patrol will find the time they spend is well worth it!
What resources can you use to learn better leadership skills? Leave a comment below or join the discussion at the GreenBar life forum.
In part three I’ll tell you one thing anyone can do right now to be a leader, even if they don’t have an official position!