Are you able to “Do Your Best”?

Marcus Buckingham spoke at the World Leaders Conference about how we are better at what we do if we can answer these three questions in the positive:

1. At work do I have a chance to do what I do best everyday?
2. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
3. Are my colleagues committed to quality work?
If we changed these questions to relate to scouts, they would look more like this, I think:
1. In Scouts, do I have a chance to do what I do best every meeting?
2. Do I know what is expected of me in Scouting?
3. Are my peers committed to the Scout Oath & Law?
If we were able to answer these three questions in the positive, whether we were a scouter or scout, can you imagine the quality of the program?
Every Troop has the same Scout, Scoutmaster, Patrol Leader and Committee Handbook to work from.  Every Pack has the same Scout Handbooks and Den Leader Guides to work from, yet there are varying experiences when you visit the unit down the road compared to your home unit.  I’ve always marveled how even within the Pack, we’ll have strong Dens and weak Dens, even though we recruit from the same neighborhoods, the same schools and offer the same training.
Buckingham maintains that teams that are strongest not when you focus on the weakest link, but on where your biggest contributions can be offered.  On teams in which members feel as if they get to do what they do best, those teams consistently out perform other teams, regardless of other environmentals.
So the million dollar question…  With Scout Units essentially running the same program, with the same structures and the same training, CAN we make our units arenas in which our Scouts, Scouters and Volunteers have a chance to do what they do best…  every day?  (Or at least every time they meet?)  I think we can.
By using Buckinham’s advice for business, we can translate it for success in Scouting.
1. Help your direct reports identify their strengths.  What does the Patrol Member or Committee Member think they are good at?  It doesn’t really matter if they are good at it or not, it is what they think, let them identify it.  How can they use those strengths to tackle the tasks that are needed?
2. Make sure your direct report knows what is needed.  What jobs, tasks or positions need to be filled?  Make sure your direct report knows what is needed, but also, communicate with them on a weekly basis.  Ask them not only what they are doing, but more importantly, what can you do to help them do it?
3.  Make sure your direct report knows what is going on around them and that they get together in a team (patrol) situation to collaborate on a regular basis.  As a leader, talk about what success looks like, what is the goal?  Make sure everyone is clear on what they are shooting for and how you are getting there.
I have to confess, I mess up on all of this a lot.  I get wrapped up in the process that I forget about the prize.  It is so important to make sure the next campout happens that I forget about the reason for the program.  I get so wrapped up in filling Committee Positions that I lose sight of the mission.
I asked my team at work to help me with this and shared with them that I thought my strengths were teaching and encouraging.  When I reflect on this, at work, every day that I get to do use these strengths is a better day for me.  I’ve asked them what their strengths were in return and it is interesting how my perspective has changed as I think of tasks to assign.  The task doesn’t change, but how the task is talked about has.
The most interesting thing of all, is this is just detail to fill in our working relationship with our scouts.  They should already know this stuff in theory, from the Patrol Leader Handbook (pp 101 – 103)

…To discover what the patrol requires from you, pay attention. Watch patrol members as they interact with one another. Listen to their comments and concerns and think about ways you can help each of them reach their full potential… Take time to establish personal connections with each Scout and learn about his interests and talents… You can support experienced patrols by seeing to it that members have everything they require to continue succeeding… Recognize individuals for their accomplishments, too, and encourage open communication…  Acknowledge differences. Look for ways to draw on individual strengths of Scouts to the advantage of the entire patrol. Develop trust by keeping the interests of patrol members in mind… Help each Scout feel that he has something important to contribute to the success of the patrol.