As a newly appointed Assistant District Commissioner, you decide to sit down over a cup of coffee with each of your Unit Commissioners in turn and size up their strengths and weaknesses, as well as to get a picture of each units health. One of your most eager and active Unit Commissioners asks if you could help him with your advice, relating the following:
“I’ve had excellent relationships with some of my unit leaders and poor relationships with others. Most of my good relationships have been with most of the Cubmasters and the younger Scoutmasters (I’m 35 years young.) I find that inexperienced Scouters are the most receptive; while the “old” hands feel that they don’t need or want outside interference. “There is one old timer (30 years as SM) in my area that invites me most cordially and extends every courtesy. Yet I can tell that he would rather just not have me around. I cannot tell if he is afraid that I’m going to report back to the district or what. I just know from his reaction that I am an outsider. I think part of my suspicions are due to the fact that he is a little too anxious to tout the achievements of his troop; it is very obvious from observing that he has an active and successful program. I certainly tell him that he is doing a wonderful job, maybe he doesn’t need to hear that from me, but I plan to continue telling him. I get the impression that he feels like he has to be polite and put up with me and does that and no more. He never discusses problems or concerns with me and I feel shutout.
For all of his showmanship, I really don’t know much about the Troop. Whenever I begin to ask a question about his unit’s participation in a District or Council event, he deftly shift the subject to his latest star achiever or batch of merit badges awarded or tells me a story about the good old days. Am I doomed to just being a sideline cheerleader or can I do something that will make me more effective?”
Obviously your Unit Commissioner wants to do a good job and will be receptive to your advice. Weigh your answer to his question and the following questions carefully:
1. What problem(s) do you see here?
2. What are the likely causes of this problem (these problems)?
3. What can your Unit Commissioner do to improve his relationship?
4. What facts does he/she need to get?
5. What should he/she be looking for or evaluating?
6. What could have caused the Scoutmaster to become suspicious?
7. What role should the Unit Commissioner have in such a unit?
8. If the Troop is running well and the Scoutmaster doing his job properly, what’s missing?
9. Any other observations?