Leadership Principles | Character in the Boy Scouts of America

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The Leadership Principle of Building Trust is based on the knowledge that organizations can achieve incredible results; but if the organization has no Trust, then the results are not sustainable.  People don’t work in places where there is no trust.  Scouts don’t participate where there is no Trust.  Character is one of three competencies that Leaders must have in order to Build Trust.  And Character is one of the core teachings of the Boy Scouts of America.

Character is ethical trust

Character means you behave in a positive manner consistently with discipline.  Your standards are set early on and you don’t bend standards because it’s easy or others are.  You set your moral code and you stand by it.  The moral code for the Boy Scouts of America is the Scout Oath.  Your oath is your word and you live up to your word – that is the vey essence of Character. Character is commonly built with 5 different attributes: Courage, Energy, Humility, Self Awareness and Discipline.

Courage is about leading from your beliefs, not from fear, frustration or anger.  Courage is not the absence of fear, but building strong enough beliefs in yourself that you overcome that fear or hesitation.  Scouts develop courage by being tested where it is safe to fail and encouraged to try new things and push their capabilities.

Energy is about the level of engagement.  Positive people create positive energy and negative people create negative energy.  Positive Scouts are energetic, enthusiastic Cheerful, Helpful and Friendly.  They embrace the challenge of leading their friends and peers and have a zeal for outdoor activities and learning new things.  Positive Energy builds a culture of positive Energy and our Scouts are encouraged to celebrate their success through a Court of Honor.

Humility is about leading without an ego.  Leadership starts with the Youth.  Leadership is not a role, it is influence earned by building Trust and supporting and nurturing the patrol to strong performance.  Ego serves yourself, humility serves others.  The Scout Oath is about “Help Other People at All Times”.  Ego is about taking credit.  Humility is about being a strong contributor.  Ego is about control.  Humility is about influence and knowing win to follow.  The EDGE Method (Educate, Demonstrate, Guide, Enable) is the method for leading with Humility.

Self Awareness is about knowing your strengths and weaknesses.  A Scout is Brave and that does not mean they are good in a fight, it means they are willing to take on challenges to build skills and grow as a leader, to try things that they are not comfortable with to build confidence and positive energy.  Self Aware leadership encourages others to leverage their strengths to face their weaknesses.  Summer camp is a time of challenging and growing skills for Scouts and it requires a Scout being Brave to meet new people and make new friends and Self Awareness and personal Energy to learn to dump your canoe and know that you are in a safe place to do it.

Discipline has always been thought of as a negative word – you get “Disciplined” means you are in trouble and paying the consequences.  The word Discipline comes from the latin word “disciplina” which means discipline, instruction, training, tuition, knowledge, teaching. Hardly punishment – discipline is the ability to control your behavior and your attitude every day.  It is paramount to the success of the Character of  Scout to be disciplined.

The BSA has a small tonnage of rules and procedures – and rules and procedures allow you to train your mind to be disciplined and methodical and use a system for how you think.  The system is E+R=O and we will talk about that later but the Scout Oath to keep yourself Mentally Awake and Morally Straight is a call to discipline and requires courage to follow your beliefs.

The Scout Oath and Laws are excellent guides to modern day leadership and every Scout is required to work through the organization on their path to Eagle Scout and to serve as a leader.  But the role is only a leadership role if you lead by Building Trust and Achieving Results.  Leadership requires Character and we work to build character every day in the Boy Scouts of America.

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