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11 Leadership Skills of Woodbadge

     The Boy Scouts of America has long been involved in the development of leadership in both its adult and youth members. A number of years ago, research and experiments led to the idea that leadership could be taught much as any other skill. Eleven leadership skills were identified as those crucial for success to a Scouting leader-although they clearly applied to other leadership roles as well. These skills of leader ship are now a part of Boy Scout Leader Wood Badge, Junior Leader Training Conference, and Post Leader Workshop and are scattered throughout items of Boy Scouts of America literature.

     In the years during which these skills of leadership have been explored by the Boy Scouts of America, much research has taken place in the behavioral sciences. As a result, these skills have been brought up to date to agree with current thinking and application. As training programs are revised, the approach to leadership skills will be slightly modified to overcome these concerns.

     For our purposes, leadership is defined as "the process of persuasion, or example by which an indvidual influences a group to pursue objectives held by the leader or shared by the followers." Thus, the leadership process is a function of the leader, the follower, the goals, and the situation at the time. It is active, exerts influence, requires effort, and is related to goals. These skills become the vehicle by which the leader achieves given objectives.

     Any musician knows that an individual part in an orchestral work can sound strange if played alone. It is only when an instrument's part is blended with the other instruments in the orchestra that the beauty of the symphony or sonata emerges. The same can be said for each of the individual skills of leadership. Each functions well only when combined with the others to produce an effective leadership style.

     An individual skill of leadership seldom is able to stand alone. Used in concert, each complements the other and the result can be greater than the sum of the parts. In counseling, for example, one must first evaluate the needs and characteristics of the individual to be counseled and the resources that are available. Counseling involves clear communication, an element of control, and setting a good example of representing the group's needs to the individual and vice versa. An effective teaching situation will probably involve all eleven skills to a greater or lesser extent. In a symphony orchestra, French horns are often silent, sometimes play solo passages, but more often add a richness and harmonic variety to the total work. The same applies to other instruments--and to a balance of leadership skills.

     Participants in leadership or management training (and Wood Badge) often return to their home situations to make dramatic changes in leadership styles, using- the new skills they have acquired. A disaster often results. Leadership skills and management training are not designed to cause a dramatic change, but rather to help a person fine-tune the skills he or she already has. If something runs, don't fix it! Yet almost anything can be made to run a little more smoothly with some minor adjustments. A skilled mechanic seldom adjusts more than one thing at a time, however. This is the only way the mechanic can find out if the adjustment produces the desired results. The wise use of the skills of leader ship will result in an improvement if applied subtly and discreetly over a considerable period of time.

The Skills:

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