If I could change one thing about Scouting I’d do away with the term ‘adult leader’. Leaders are directive, they tell people what to do and how to do it. Advisors and mentors , on the other hand, are motivational – they help people develop skills and find the inspiration in their work.
The greatest responsibility of an adult working with a Scout Troop or Venture Crew is engaging youth members in leading themselves using the patrol system. There’s a subtle, yet important difference in directing youth leaders to do things and motivating them to get things done.
Youth leaders aren’t serving adults, they are serving their fellow Scouts.
Why do youth leaders do the things they do? Is it to satisfy the demands made by the Scoutmaster? No. They do these things to serve their fellow Scouts.
What do Scouts say to their youth leaders? I want to go camping, I want to advance, I want to do Scouting with my friends! Because Scouts don’t articulate these things all that well, they need someone to speak for them.
I explain to my youth leaders that the things I am telling them, that the work they are doing, isn’t to satisfy my demands because I am not the leader. I tell them that I am the voice of the Scouts they serve, that the things they are doing and planning aren’t for my benefit or to save me the work of doing it myself, but to make Scouting come alive for their Scouts.
If the Scoutmaster takes a directive role youth leadership is answerable to the Scoutmaster. If the Scoutmaster takes an advisory role youth leaders are answerable to the Scouts they serve. When we are at our best we engage them as an advisor, not as a directive leader.
To become a good advisor you have to find your ‘advisor’s voice’.
I am not speaking of tone or volume, but the motivation behind what you say. The advisor’s voice is really the voice of the Scouts youth leaders are serving,
When you speak as an advisor you are articulating the concerns of the Scouts, and motivating youth leaders to serve.