The discussion has gone so many different directions, I don't really know what its about now. But, leadership styles tend to follow the examples set by the older scout role models. A culture develops over time and it sets the expectation of the leadership for the younger scouts. So if a troop wants to change the style of the present leadership, it typically has to be changed by outside intervention (SM guidance) at the higher levels of the youth leadership.
I'm thinking what is mentioned as leadership styles might be what I define as management styles. Those processes are easily defined and produce processes of efficiency for troop and patrol operations. This is extremely important especially in larger troops if they are ever going to achieve organizational sanity. There are a ton of management books out there describing how to approach different projects, assignments and tasks. Some involve people resources and those are the ones that may need the most attention so as to effectively use those people resources to accomplish what is needed for the job. Of course these management skills are necessary for the boys to be organized and effective.
Under a PL with limited leadership skills, these management skills can really help. Using meeting agendas, duty rosters, keeping track of attendance, insuring financial solvency of an activity all go a long ways to make the operation run smoothly. But here is where my definition of leadership diverges from what I define as management.
A good manager can be running a tight ship in his patrol, things get done, it all looks good, everyone is impressed on how efficient he is, etc. The adults will love him for his efforts! He will get a whole boat load of praise, because the adults will not need to manage that person's job expectations. He's got it covered. But what do the boys think? Are they happy? Are they excited about how things are going? Or are they voting with their feet, displaying discipline problems, needing to be told multiple times to step up and work with the group. The #1 test I use in this situation is: Do the boys listen to the PL? or in other words, are they wanting to follow him and his leadership? One can be a fantastic manager, but are the people really following? That's the definition of leadership I focus in on. I have had many PL's come to me and complain that their boys don't listen to what he tells them. My first response to that would be to assume it's the patrol member's fault, when in reality the problem lies with the PL. They don't listen because he doesn't lead. I had a classic example demonstrated right in front of my eyes many years ago that was burned into my memory. A PL was "yelling" at one of the patrol members for not getting the water for cleaning dishes as was clearly marked on the posted duty roster. No question the boy had fallen down on the job and the PL was making an example of it. Right in the middle of the PL's sentence, another boy jumped up, grabbed the boy being yelled at in one hand and the empty water can in the other and said, "We got this!" and off they went. The water got collected and the boy being yelled at got a reprieve from the tirade, and the PL went back to doing what he was doing, not realizing that although the job got done, the real leadership was stripped away from him without him even noticing.
These are the kinds of things I draw out whenever I do a SMC with a scout advancing in rank. To me this is scout leadership, the helping other people at all times. Does it make any difference what the job/task is or how well he did it? Or is the helping part really what's important to be drawn out of the boy as he takes on more leadership in his next step in his scouting career?
I for one can't imagine anyone being in the scout program for any length of time and not see this kind of thing going on all around them all the time. But to stay focused only on the management and efficient running of the program to the exclusion of the leadership is concerning to me. As I have mentioned in previous posts, a bag of cookies, a 9 year old Webelos II AOL candidate that is capable of surprising me after all these years, and I have a excellent subject for a SM Minute standing right there in front of me. This is why I come back every week excited about what I'm going to find next! I would have quit years ago if the only thing of value was doing the SM job week after week. But my boys take care of me as much as I take care of them.
I had a patrol once made up of boys that would have frustrated the management style SM to no end. They didn't turn in their reports on time, if at all. They never had duty rosters. The PL showed up totally "unprepared" for their meetings, and my ASM hounded me weekly about my letting the boys get away with it. But the boys were having fun, the work somehow got done, they were always showing up for everything, they might have had a few more pop-tarts and hot dogs than I would have like to have had, but they all hung together and in the end every one of them Eagled. The "magic" that I learned from that patrol was that they were all minimal managers, just enough to get by, but they were ALL leaders! They all cared for each other, they all watched out for each other, etc. One might have been tempted to say they worked together as a team (management), but I personally would have identified it more as working together more as a family, they truly cared about each other (leadership).
Yes, it takes management to keep things pulled together and keep the wheels rolling. But the leadership and the myriad of styles that go with that gives the energy to make things exciting and worthwhile. The manager posts the duty roster so that everyone knows their job. The leader doesn't post a duty roster because he trusts his buddies to make sure everyone is taken care of and the roster is useless.
If one has been in scouting for any length of time, they will know what I'm talking about because they will always be able to say they saw such things, but they will also admit that they can't explain it nor can they recreate it for anyone else. It's always unique to just those particular boys at that particular time. It is really quite fascinating to see and experience.