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Management best practices

You might not think of yourself as a ’manager’. But as a Group Scout Leader or Commissioner, you 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 adult volunteers so that they can get the most out of their volunteering.

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 our volunteers for all their hard work and helps make sure we keep them.

Scouting is about making life better, and this approach comes from the top.

Your role is to provide direction and to help people see the bigger picture by providing great leadership for the future.

What we’re doing

We believe that everyone in management positions in Scouting should adopt an approach that combines the skills of both leadership and management.

We’ve identified six key skill areas that make a good manager in Scouting and are focusing management support on these areas. These six areas (below) are based on the National Occupational Standards for Management and Leadership produced by the Management Standards Centre.

The six aspects of good scouting leadership and management

A Detailed Briefing on Leadership and Management in Scouting

Why is this work being carried out?

We have been concerned for some time about the need to improve the quality and skills of line management in Scouting and anecdotal evidence suggested that there were issues to address.

At the Operations sub-Committee annual conference in July 2008, attended by a wide range of Scouting volunteers and staff, the issue identified as the key blocker to the development of Scouting was considered to be the quality of management and leadership in Scouting.

As a result of this, Operations sub-Committee in April 2009 considered a paper summarising the issues. This paper introduced the concept of managerial leadership and tasked a small working group to consider the matter further with a view to developing an action plan and strategies which would begin to address the issues.

What is this work trying to achieve?

The Scout Association believes that volunteers in line management positions should adopt an approach to management that combines the traditional roles of leadership and management on the premise that managers should also be good leaders and provide direction and motivation to those they lead.

The long term goal of this work is to have (and maintain) an effective manager in every management position in Scouting.

To achieve this goal, the work plan is built on the following principles:

a) Scouting must support existing managers to improve leadership and management skills where possible;

b) Scouting must recruit into management positions only people who have or are able and willing to develop the required management and leadership skills;

c) Scouting’s senior volunteer management must show commitment to this strategy through its actions; and

d) Scouting must be prepared to reassign or retire volunteers in management positions who are unable to demonstrate or develop in a timely manner the required leadership and management skills.

On what is this work based?

At its core, the work on leadership and management is based on the 2008 National Occupational Standards for Management and Leadership produced by the Management Standards Centre.

These standards were analysed to identify the items that were considered appropriate for volunteer managers in The Scout Association.

The National Occupational Standards comprise 74 units grouped into six areas. For Scouting’s purpose we use simply the six main areas as follows:

The areas are given in this order so that they start with the more aspirational items – but no one area is actually more important than another.

It's the complete collection of areas that defines good leadership and management in Scouting.

Each of these areas is then further defined for each of the main management roles in Scouting. For example, the definition for Group Scout Leaders is as follows:

Work in support of leadership and management

There is an ongoing work plan to promote and support good leadership and management in Scouting. This work is broadly in the following areas:

1. Clearly define the functions required of a good manager in Scouting.

2. Encourage existing management volunteers, where possible, to increase skill levels and become effective managers. In doing this it is important to:

  • perform effective reviews of managers against the leadership and management functions to identify areas for improvement;
  • increase the leadership and management skill level in existing managers;
  • retire or re-assign those managers for whom the current role is inappropriate; and
  • recruit into management positions only those people with the required leadership and management skill levels or the ability and desire to attain the required skill levels.

3. Define and carry out a clear communications plan to ensure that the Movement at large understands this long term strategic view.

Further information

This work is ongoing and will doubtless change over time. For further information please contact
Steve Peck or Tim Kidd.