All Scout Groups need a Group Scout Leader (GSL), in fact the GSL is the key to the success of an effective Scout Group.
Every Scout Group is different and every Group Scout Leader, is different. The purpose of this guide is to help you identify what type of person is needed to take on the role of GSL to lead a particular Scout Group at its current point in its development.
This guide it is not intended to be given to a current role holder or potential candidate. As District Commissioners you should adapt this information so it best fits your current situation, taking into account whether you are reviewing a current role holder, looking for a new Group Scout Leader or agreeing the role with a new person. Items found in the appendix of this guide such as the outline role description are design to be given to someone considering the role to provide more information and detail as they require it.
What makes a good manager in Scouting?
A lot of people in scouting do not think of them self as a ’manager’. But, as a Group Scout Leader they are.
Some people argue that using the word ‘manager’ makes scouting seem more like work than a hobby. But this misses the point that good management in scouting is about providing effective support and good leadership to our adults so that they can get the most out of the time they commit to scouting.
A good manager in scouting provides other adults with an excellent scouting experience. They support adults working directly with young people so that they are motivated, inspired and focused on providing first class scouting opportunities for young people.
A good manager thanks people for all their hard work and this in turn helps make sure we keep them involved. Scouting is about making life better and this approach comes from the top. Being a manager in scouting is about provide direction and helping people see the bigger picture this is done by providing great leadership and building on success for the future.
The Scout Association believes that the time is right to be clear about what we require of our managers and help the current post holders focus on the things that will make a difference. Providing this clarity will also make it easier to recruit people to fill the roles – we all know there are far too many Group Scout Leader vacancies and being clear about the role will help undoubtedly help us to fill them.
Scouting believes that everyone in management positions across the Movement should adopt an approach that combines the skills of both leadership and management.
The Association has identified six key skill areas that make a good manager in scouting and are focusing management support on these areas. These six areas are:
Create a vision for scouting in your area and provide clear leadership to implement that vision.
Working with people
Create a team spirit and work effectively with people in your area based on trust and the fundamentals of scouting.
Ensure that goals are achieved, plans are seen through to completion and that good relationships are maintained with parents of young people in scouting and the local community.
Encourage people to think of creative ways to improve scouting in your area and then implement the appropriate improvements.
Esnsure that sufficient resources and information are available to help people in your area to provide excellent Scouting.
Managing your time and personal skills
Use your time effectively and continue to learn and improve the skills that you bring to your role.
The Associations’ aim is that volunteers in line management positions should adopt an approach to management that combines the traditional roles of leadership and management, on the basis that managers should also be good leaders and provide direction and motivation to those they lead.
Agreeing the role
It’s important that you make sure that all GSLs have an agreed role description. That way, in the future, you can both review how the role is going. Using this guide you will also be able to prepare a mutual agreement but be prepared to make mutually agreed changes during your meeting. After reviewing the responsibilities here, you might think it’s a good idea to delegate tasks to other members of the Scout Group team – it may be appropriate to appoint an Assistant Group Scout Leader.
6 Steps to Success!
When recruiting someone to take on the role of GSL it is important that you think very carefully about the needs of the Group in order that you ask the right person. Using the six steps detailed below will help you ensure that you recruit the right person to take on the challenge.
Step 1 - Define the job that needs to be done
Provide an example GSL role description (see below) . This should be agreed with the individual on appointment, to form a mutual agreement. It is important to be realistic. You may want to ask someone to take it on for one year initially. You should ensure you provide answer to the following questions:
- What job do you want me to do?
- What does that involve?
- Where and when?
- Who will I be working with?
- Primarily with:
- But also with:
- Who will I be responsible to?
- Who will I be responsible for?
- What help do I get?
- What equipment and facilities are available?
- How long do you want me to do the job?
Step 2 - Identify the skills and qualities needed
Step 3 - Generate a list of who can do the job.
The next step is to identify places where you may find people who can carry out the role that you have identified. A starting list of the places and groups you may think about is listed below:
Current Leaders in the Group
Leaders in other Groups
Friends Family Parents
Local Companies - especially junior managers
Chamber of Commerce
Professional Clubs and Organisations
Business in the Community
Universities and Colleges - Graduate Associations and MBA graduates
Chair of Residents/Tenants Association
Local Police Officer
Once you have done this for your area you can start to identify individuals from some of these places who you could approach to discuss the role it’s a good idea to do this with other members of your District Team to ensure that you cover all possible people.
Hold a name generation evening
Alternatively you could identify individuals from some of these places who may be able to help you with a name generation evening. A name generation evening is best run in a social manner. It should involve bringing together a few people from the groups that you have listed. These people are not those you think can do the job(s) but rather those who may know someone with appropriate skills, knowledge and expertise. You must make sure this is clear when you invite them.
When you invite the people you have identified to attend briefly outline the purpose of the evening and explain the work that you have done so to pull together the role descriptions etc. This will give them plenty of warning for the meeting. Don’t forget to provide details of the venue etc. A personal invite is also going to be more successful when asking people to attend this meeting
The evening should have a time limit and be effectively managed as this will ensure Scouting is seen by those attending in the best light (they may even volunteer themselves!). You may want to include some kind of social aspect in this meeting such as a drink or other purpose to attract attendance. Make sure you state at the beginning of the meeting that you are not asking them to volunteer, but that you want to tap into their local knowledge of people in and around the community. By the end of the evening you should have a list of names and be able to identify those who are good choices (see Step 4) and also have some way of contacting those people.
Step 4 - Target the best choice
Once you have identified people, try to work out who most closely fits the knowledge, skills, qualities and circumstances identified in Step 2. Don’t make judgements on other people’s behalf. If someone is identified as having the skills to do the job, put their name forward - if they are too busy let them say so. There is no truer saying than “If you want a job doing ask a busy person”. We know that people who volunteer are involved with more than one organisation or has more than just one job/role. Prioritise the choices.
Step 5 - Ask someone to help you
When you have decided who the best choice is, you must think carefully about how to approach them.
- Decide who will ask - it may be one person or maybe two.
- Decide how they will be asked - it could be the person who gave the name of a person, or someone else who knows them.
- Arrange a meeting with them (this should be informal and relaxed)
- Plan the meeting - it may follow this kind of pattern:
- Introductions and pleasantries explain the background,
- outline the job (link Step 1),
- explain why you think they are suitable (link Step 2),
- outline the benefits,
- ask if they will do the job,
- negotiate on any of the points listed in the job you have defined (Step 1). Maybe you are asking too much or for too long - look at how you can adapt this,
- agree the next steps to take place soon after the meeting,
- Have available some information about the role, the Group, Scouting etc, should they want more information to consider the job, or if they say yes.
Step 6 - Offer support and welcome them into scouting
When someone has decided to take on the role, it is important that the Associations procedures are followed an Adult Application form (AA Form), should be completed and references taken up by the District before they attend an Appointments sub-Committee. This process should be carried out as swiftly as possible.
Use our Induction Toolkit for additional information and welcome material - put together what is appropriate plus local and Group information.
People stay involved in scouting for longer and are happier in their job, if they have appropriate and timely help and support. This is especially important in the early stages of their scouting. Everyone likes to feel that they are doing a good job, so praise as well as offering help is equally important. A buddy or mentor who is familiar with the role and with Scouting locally would provide excellent support especially when the person is new.