William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt is the man who wrote the book on Scouting, literally. His Patrol Leader’s Handbook is, without a doubt, his best and most influential work. His understanding of scouting was simple, but not simplistic. Here he lays out the scoutmaster’s job in a few sentences:
“Let them lead in practically everything. Let them work out their own problems, interfere as little as possible—but be ever ready to give wise guidance—not when you think they need it, but when they seek it. Keep in mind that unwarranted, ill-advised interference discourages leadership and that those boy leaders of yours are “learning by doing.”
Mistakes, some of them serious, are bound to be made; therefore, be ever ready with a kindly and friendly spirit to urge them to try again.
Help them occasionally with constructive criticism. But do your coaching on the sidelines always, never in front of the Patrols. And then, when the Patrol Leader succeeds in his job, praise him for it. Commendation which is justified and not overdone is an absolute necessity. Such statements of approval should be made occasionally before the interested group. They like it, and so does the leader, as long as it is short, free from “soft soap,” and genuine.”