There are two types of vacancies in adult leader positions in Scouting: expected and unexpected.
But even the latter type of departure — perhaps a result of injury, illness or a Scouter moving away — can be taken in stride. That is, if you’ve established a succession plan.
Those who follow the Scout Motto simply move the predetermined person into place to fill the position.
For ideas on how this is done, listen to the January 2017 episode of ScoutCast, the monthly podcast for Scouters. We welcomed Kathleen Daggett, a longtime member of Troop 32 in Santa Rosa, Calif., where she currently serves as a committee chairperson.
I recommend listening to the full 14-minute conversation. Here are some highlights:
What is succession planning?
“It’s proactively ensuring you have all the needed, capable adults on hand, and in the queue in case something changes, to keep your troop running smoothly,” Daggett says. “Succession planning is a process of identifying and assessing and recruiting adult leaders and parents — ready to step in or step up.”
Which positions need a succession plan?
Basically all of them, Daggett says.
That includes obvious ones like the committee chairperson, the Scoutmaster, the advancement coordinator and the treasurer. It also includes “those not as titled or not as formal roles that are necessary in a troop — Popcorn Kernel, the person who manages your medical forms or an event leader or some outing coordinator,” she says.
Why do units need a succession plan?
“The basic concept of Boy Scouts is boy-led and adult-guided, and we need a good, solid flow of adults to do that guiding,” Daggett says. “So the adults are needed to do Scout-facing stuff but also to help keep the troop functioning and growing.”
Where do you find the next wave of adult leaders?
From the parents, of course. That means “proactively looking forward not just to fill the slots you need filled right now but to be growing and guiding and encouraging and training your parents and adult leaders into, who they can be tomorrow and who do you need them to be in the troop tomorrow to help the boys,” Daggett says.
How do you identify the right leader for the right role?
“That committee chair or Scoutmaster, maybe chartered organization rep, they’re all looking at those parents and seeing who’s got the skills and the time and the talents and the commitment to do different things,” Daggett says. Then you “try to map that to that parent that you can turn into an adult leader.”
When is the time to start succession planning?
“Ideally you’re looking for your next Scoutmaster while your current one is deeply engaged and happily doing it!” Daggett says. “You’re bringing in the right assistants. Hopefully a number of assistant Scoutmasters are getting trained and perhaps groomed for the role. In our troop, it often takes a better part of a year. It’s a lot of pilot and copilot time, a lot of having that person walk through and just follow and get trained in partnership before they actually have to take over.”
Hear the complete discussion
This is just a taste of the wisdom Kathleen Daggett imparts in the January 2017 ScoutCast. Listen here or on your favorite podcasting app by searching for “ScoutCast.”