The senior patrol leader is in charge of troop meetings from beginning to end. He chairs meetings of the patrol leaders’ council as they plan troop activities and programs… To help the senior patrol leader achieve that leadership goal, you as Scoutmaster should work with him before and after troop meetings to mentor him, encourage him, and provide him with the tools to succeed.
The relationship between a senior patrol leader and his Scoutmaster is often one of friendship and mutual admiration. A great reward for a Scoutmaster is in helping a young man who has accepted a position of responsibility develop into a leader capable of fulfilling the high expectations placed upon him. – The Scoutmaster’s Handbook 2010 Printing
1. Let him own the program.
SPLs are actually responsible for the Troop program, meetings, outings, the whole megillah. If he is receiving a written plan from you he is not actually responsible for the program, he is responsible for running your idea of what the program should be.
Let him and the patrol leader’s council develop their own ideas that they plan and present on their own. Step back and observe their work rather than being directly involved in everything.
2. Praise publicly, criticize privately
Never ever criticize your SPL in front of other Scouts. No other action will undercut his authority more completely than this.
3. Give him some direction and boundaries.
Always keep him focused on what Scouting promises Scouts. Show him where the boundaries are and point out the vast possibilities that exist within those boundaries
4. Be polite, ask permission.
Can I take a moment to say something? Do you need any adult support for that? What can I do to help you with this? When he says; “No thanks, I’ve got it.” back off.
5. Encourage him
There will always be problems – challenge is good. He is responsible to lead the Troop through them. Find a reason to compliment him, point out the positive things he is doing, commiserate with him when he’s having a difficult time.
6. Set the proper tone for leadership.
Scouts are not soldiers, you are not the captain, the senior patrol leader is not your drill sergeant. You are the coach, your senior patrol leader is the team captain, the Scouts are the players. Stay on the sidelines and let the senior patrol leader run the game.
7. Use your authority sparingly.
When circumstances demand step in quietly (with permission) and ask questions that will lead to a course correction. Don’t grab the wheel out of his hands , don’t hit the brakes, ask some questions.
8. Keep your distance.
Let the Scouts live their own lives, go fold a tent, conduct a Scoutmaster’s conference, have a cup of coffee or watch quietly.
9. Guard the playing field.
When other adults interfere quietly redirect their attention to something else. One direct, clear statement about the role of adults is usually all that is needed.
10. Give him plenty of feedback.
Plenty is two minutes a meeting. Don’t wear him out, don’t talk so much he can’t process what you are saying.