As adults in positions of authority our exchanges, no matter how casual, carry the weight of position and authority. This is why I school adults to be very careful about what they tell youth leaders because what they say will be interpreted as instructions and they will be followed.
We also must be careful to understand the difference between evaluating and valuing what youth leaders say.
Since we are considered as the default authority youth leaders will take our reactions to what they say as an evaluation. When the senior patrol leader is telling me what his plans are he is expecting me to evaluate them, to approve or disapprove. I must be careful to value his plans first and evaluate them later otherwise he’s unlikely to develop any initiative towards thinking for himself.
If he tells me a plan that I suspect won’t work (but will not expose Scouts to inappropriate or dangerous situations) I have found it best not to evaluate them immediately. I am better off if I let him go ahead and find out if the plans work or not. If they fail I will refrain from letting him know that I pretty much suspected that they would. If they succeed I can congratulate him and make him smarter than me by saying something like; ‘You know I wasn’t too sure whether that would work or not – Good job!, I learned something from that.’
If his plans fail I have the opportunity to evaluate them in a supportive way by refraining from anything that may come off as an ‘I told you so’. We reflect on what happened, I guide him through the process of finding the flaw in his planning and then let him know that the most important thing was that he tried and ask how he would do it differently.
If I had evaluated the plan when he first shared it with me and had him change them I had missed the opportunity to build on his initiative and allow him to go through the process.