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The Senior Patrol Leader is in charge.


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#1 Lurking...

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 11:50 AM

@TAHAWK's comment got me thinking on this.  Just exactly what does being "in charge" really mean in terms of leadership.

 

Some dictionaries say:

 

in control or with overall responsibility.
"he was in charge of civil aviation matters"
synonyms: responsible for, in control of, in command of, at the helm/wheel of;
managing, running, administering, directing, supervising, overseeing, controlling
"I'm in charge of museum security

 

or:

 

To be in charge - synonyms or related words
 
micromanage verb

showing disapproval to control every part of a business or system in a way that is not necessary or useful

control verb

to have the power to make decisions and decide what will happen to something

govern verb

to control and manage an area, city, or country and its people

watch over

to guard, protect, or be in charge of someone or something

command verb

to be the leader of a group of people, especially in the military

supervise verb

to be in charge of a person or group of people and to check that they are behaving or working correctly

look after

to be responsible for something

manage verb

to organize and control the work of a company, organization, or group of people

 

 

If this be the case, what's left for the Patrol Leaders when it comes to leadership?

 

This being in charge really becomes obvious when one is discussing management of a task, but leadership is leading people.  So where does that leave leadership in the Patrol Method?


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#2 jr56

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 12:08 PM

The patrol leaders are in charge of their patrols.   The SPL is in charge of them.   If a scout  needs advice, or correction, a wise SPL would not do it himself, he would delegate that to the boy's PL.


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#3 Lurking...

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 12:12 PM

But there are those, (including BSA material) that state the SPL is in charge of the Troop, not just the PL's..... :)


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#4 Sentinel947

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 12:23 PM

I read in charge as "responsible for". With my SPL I tell him he is responsible for his patrol leaders and the planning of outings and meetings. He doesn't have to personally lead or execute everything, but its on him to make sure it happens.
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#5 Lurking...

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 12:48 PM

I read in charge as "responsible for". With my SPL I tell him he is responsible for his patrol leaders and the planning of outings and meetings. He doesn't have to personally lead or execute everything, but its on him to make sure it happens.

 

If "you tell him he is responsible for....." does that then make the adult the leader and the SPL and PL's mere managers of the activity?


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#6 Eagle94-A1

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 12:59 PM

I'm going back to my youth days and experiences, so bear with me.

 

PLs are responsible for their patrols. They make sure menus, shopping, duty rosters, etc are done. They delegate different aspects of patrol life, i.e patrol QM, patrol scribe, etc, and help those individuals out as needed. They make sure the members of their patrol are learning, and for the mixed aged patrols, advancing up to First Class. They also represent the patrol at the PLC, and bring down duties and responsibilities that the PLC may assign, i.e. Hawks have cleanup this month, Ravens are doing the ceremonies, etc. In a nutshell, their job is to take care of their patrol members

 

SPL was the one with respsonibility for the entire. He was responsible for organizing the PLC meetings and making sure that stuff that needed to be done gets done, i.e. meetings are planned, camp outs planned, fundraiser is organized, etc. Some things would be assigned to PLs and patrols, sometimes things woud be assigned to the older Scouts in the Leadership Corps as it was called. IMHO one of the most important parts of the SPL's job is to counsel and mentor the PLs. I know when I was a new PL, the SPLs were the ones I went to for advice and encouragement. Whern I was ASPL, I did a lot of counseling and mentoring.

 

In all honesty, you could read Green Bar Bill's entire Brownsea 22 syllabus, and still only get a general idea of everything being a PL or SPL entails. And part of that is each Scout is different.


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#7 Tampa Turtle

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 01:30 PM

The patrol leaders are in charge of their patrols.   The SPL is in charge of them.   If a scout  needs advice, or correction, a wise SPL would not do it himself, he would delegate that to the boy's PL.

 

It should be a bottom up organization. Even my son#2 who is the new SPL gets that. He knows when the adults start leaning on the SPL a lot it is because they want to start managing from the top down via the SPL.


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#8 Eagledad

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 01:47 PM

In all honesty, you could read Green Bar Bill's entire Brownsea 22 syllabus, and still only get a general idea of everything being a PL or SPL entails. And part of that is each Scout is different.

The PLC in each troop models the SM vision of responsibility and leadership. And no two PLCs are a like. I'm not sure Bill could have written are more detailed recipe of success because it would have pushed many Scoutmasters beyond their ability to advance boy growth. 

 

Stosh has said many hundreds of times he does not respect the SPL because the PL should be recognized with the highest responsibility for the program. He also admits being forced to use an SPL when his first troop briefly grew too large for the PLs to manage. Maybe his question is more for himself to find solitude in his struggle to define the role of the SPL. 

 

I have suggested several times that the SPL responsibilities should be an opportunity for growth. Stosh can freely apply any growth he wants, but instead of trying to redefine the SPL for the scouters on the forum who use the SPL, further experiences with his own SPL might enlighten his vision. 

 

Barry


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#9 Lurking...

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 02:03 PM

"Lean" business practice has come out with the notion that the customer is the most important factor for determining management operations.  In this case it would be the individual scouts who are the paying customers.  That would mean that the point of first contact would be the guy on the assembly line or the clerk in the store, or the cashier taking the order that would need to be at the top of their game and the top of the organizational functioning structure.  If the customer isn't satisfied with the product or service ordered, they will go elsewhere.  (Business 101)  So we train the contact employee, we make sure they satisfy the customer so they will come back and purchase more goods and services.  With Lean, the point of initial contact would be the PL.  He is the closest contact with the customer.  What is being done to make sure he's trained and qualified to handle this most critical point in the business model of management?

 

So then who's going to do backup for the PL's to make sure they are supported and helped in this critical position?  SPL who is NOT in contact with the customer?  If he is, then what's the purpose of the PL other than the errand boy for the SPL?

 

Is this how we have the BSA business model set up or is everything from Irving on down driving a program that may or may not be what the customer wants.  One would think with the exodus of customers, that policy may not be the best.  Irving designs and is keeper of the "program".  They pass it down to their sales personnel (councils) to sell to the public.  The adults pick up and are trained to handle a outdoor program designed for youth.  They enlist the youth to be token "leaders" so they learn a few management skills along the way.  The program management mantle gets pass to the SPL who either runs everything himself or mandates to the PL to make sure everyone is happy and doesn't quit.

 

In theory it works great.  The only leaders in this scenario are those folks in Irving, everyone else just follows along.  If one is the customer here, the end product of what is being offered has passed through so many different hands, no one really knows if the customer is getting what was promised or not.


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#10 qwazse

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 02:13 PM

Here's how I see it:

 

As with most organizational charts, the most functional groups invert them.

The positions with "leader" or "master" in their title actually constitute support staff.

 

The scouts are on top, with their PL and APL identifying ways to support their patrol's success in scouting (i.e., reaching the pinnacle experience of hiking and camping independently your mates).

The SPL and ASPL are so designated because age (sometimes maturity beyond years) results in their fellow scouts recognizing that if the PLs/APLs need support, these guys are the one's to do it. Their primary support is to facilitate communication and skills dissemination among the various patrols in the troop.

All of the other Eagle-qualified positions of responsibility exist in support the troop. Coming along-side the SPL during whatever time they can spare from their respective patrol commitments.

 

Imagine an ice cream cone. :rolleyes:  Not one of those pre-fab ones. Rather, one with a shell rolled from cake batter baked on a proper iron.

  • Most scouts in general are the sprinkles and nuts at the top. (I'll allow you to sort out who in your troop is which.)
  • The PL's are the ice cream. They determine the flavor of the troop.
  • The boys with various PoRs are the cake of the cone, if they hold together, your patrols will stay anchored in the troop.
  • The SPL is in one sense just another PoR, piece of cake. But he's also the point where the seams of the cone come together ... the fulcrum that all of the nuts, sprinkles, flavor, and cake ultimately fall on. Talk to him for any length of time, and you'll get a sense of the troop ... just like if you broke off the bottom of the cone, you might get a sense of flavor and texture of everything that's melted down from above. But, breaking off the SPL might also result in all the good stuff spilling out.
  • The SM? He/she's a napkin that picks the drippings. Needless to say, the wrong balance of sprinkles, nuts, cream, and cake, and that SM will get worn pretty thin when the heat is on.

:D


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#11 Lurking...

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 02:16 PM

Exactly!


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#12 Eagledad

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 02:45 PM

Qwazse, I believe that the vast majority of Scoutmasters would say their program fits your model.

 

Barry 


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#13 Beavah

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 04:41 PM

Yah, hmmm....

 

I'm with @Eagledad on this, eh?  There are lots of ways to make an ice cream cone.  Sometimes, yeh only have da ingredients for a banana split.  :p

 

By and large units sort out roles based on their vision and the needs of the kids.   Strong units often invent or re-invent roles and structures as the boys themselves feel the need or the desire to innovate.  The point is to give a scope for youth growth and development, eh?  A scope that the adults can understand and support.  All the rest is just noise.

 

Now, I get where @Stosh is comin' from.  I'd say that in general, across the land, patrol method and patrol leaders are under-utilized and SPLs are over-utilized.  That arises partly from age-based patrols where younger PLs aren't as capable, but mostly it's a function of adults not knowin' how to make that work.  Da SPL-and-helpers model of youth leadership is easier for adults to grok.   Patrols take more time.

 

Beavah


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#14 Eagle94-A1

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 07:05 PM

I'd say that in general, across the land, patrol method and patrol leaders are under-utilized and SPLs are over-utilized.  That arises partly from age-based patrols where younger PLs aren't as capable, but mostly it's a function of adults not knowin' how to make that work.  Da SPL-and-helpers model of youth leadership is easier for adults to grok.   Patrols take more time.

 

UNDERSTATEMENT! (emphasis, ok maybe yelling at the top of my lungs in agreement with ya ;) )

 

The patrol method DOES work if adults do not interfere with it. It's messy, organized chaos, and takes patience and time to do it right. BUT in the long run, it is nor only the easiest, but the best way to do things.


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#15 Lurking...

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 07:29 PM

The key to the whole patrol thingy is trusting the scouts and this is the sticking point for adults. Trusting boys amidst the chaos is something many can't handle. Enforcing management over enabling leadership is an adult solution and it takes far more energy than letting the boys take ownership of the program on their own.
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#16 qwazse

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 09:09 PM

Where I've read people going off the rails with this "in charge" notion:
The folks who think BSA has gone soft on rank advancement, when they aren't ranting about BORs not being allowed to retest, point to the panoply of PoRs in which a life scout may serve. Some go so far as to say only SPLs should apply for Eagle.
It makes sense if Eagle is about being "in charge" .... one figures only boys who've actually been in charge of a whole troop have proven themselves Eagle material. Sounds really clever, until you realize that the position would reduce to a six month rotation, with some boys marking time when they could be doing something really awesome for their troop.
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#17 Lurking...

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 09:34 PM

"In Charge" implies a management issue.  Leading a troop and leading people are two different animals that often get confused as the same thing when in fact they are not.

 

I have seen many times where PL's TG's DC's show more leadership than SPL's, and even authoritarian SM's.

 

Out of all the Eagle speeches at ECOH's I have heard over the course of the past 35+ years, only one Eagle ever thanked his fellow scouts for making it possible for him to lead.  We hear the thanks go to parents, SM's, ASM's, some particular mentor, or whatever, but never for the faithful followers that would do anything and everything to have participated in helping this boy be a Real Eagle.

 

DC's are not "in charge of" anything, but a good DC will lead his den in the cross-over into scouts.

 

TG's are not "in charge of" anything, but the new boys hang on their every word.

 

PL's are not "in charge of" anything, but when one of their patrol members is a bit bummed out about not being at home, will sit by the fire until the boy quiets down and heads for bed.

 

GrubMasters are not "in charge of" anything, don't even get POR credit, but spend a lot of extra time coming up with nice things to eat, learns new recipes, holds out the mushrooms for one boy who doesn't like them, watches labels for peanut oils, and does the shopping, teaching others how to put together menus for advancement, and a whole host of other duties.

 

I am super glad my boys never learn how to be "in charge of" anything.  They are too busy learning how to be great leaders.


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#18 Tampa Turtle

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 05:52 AM

I have seen a half dozen really good SPL's in our Troop and the funny thing is they all had different personalities and approaches. Some are very support oriented, others inspiring but hands off, some very hands on, and others very laid back and patient. The others in the Troop re-calibrated to the leadership style. 

 

It is, as been said many times, that it is the adults who are concerned with management issues. 


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#19 Lurking...

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 06:32 AM

That's because adults focus on getting the task done and the chaos out of the way.  I have found over the years that much of the "discipline" problems facing units is the mandated rules of the adults to minimize chaos at the expense of the the boy's opportunity to lead and have ownership in their program.  The Rule: "Thou shalt not have chaos." was never a part of any boy led unit, only those run by adults. 

 

These are young men, trying out their leadership styles (as @Tampa Turtle says) and they need to be supported in that process, not shoe-horned into some management regimen that will produce some sort of a smooth operation of tasks.  People are always more important than the tasks when it comes to leadership because it is the people who are being lead.  No amount of by-law, policy statements, traditions, listed expectations etc. is going to develop a creating, dynamic leader  the boys love to hang with or the sensitive scout that doesn't say much, but when one is bummed out about something at home, he's the one that the boys will always go to.


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#20 Eagledad

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 08:11 AM

This discussion might have more value if the Scoutmasters preaching about real leadership weren't also bragging in other discussions of coaching their same scouts through EBORs. They trust their scouts to lead through the chaos of patrol method, but they don't trust them enough to review their scouting experience to a board of strangers.

I know, I know, I'm a cranky old man. But shesh, our discussions are really getting bizarre. We are making scouting way too hard for the average adult volunteer.

Barry
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