[July 7, 2019] I’ll soon be headed to Boy Scout camp with a number of 11-year old boys; who will be away from home for their first time. Anyone who has been around young boys (or girls) who are about to spend a week camping without their family, knows that it can be a daunting task. That is why clear expectations are a responsibility our adult leaders take seriously.
We spend time explaining standards of behavior and what to expect on their upcoming scout camp. This eases their concerns and also develops their own leadership skills by showing them what a good leader does to prepare their boys for a successful trip away from home. This is what we do. We do it well.
We also tell these young boys that they will have lots of fun. Fun is the motivator that pushes them to learn outdoor skills and stick to the grueling schedule we impose upon them. Furthermore, we are careful to let them know what a typical day is like at camp. The humidity and heat, bugs that bite and other animal critters, early to rise and early to bed, keeping their lean-tos clean and orderly; are just a few things they will experience for the first time.
Any leader worth their salt thinks about how they will explain proper behavior and any upcoming event. They also plan how to make the leap from concept (in the preparation) to reality (of task execution). This is where leadership is used to explain their vision of how things should be and how they will achieve it. Good communication is the key; something not easy to do even in the best of circumstances.
An old Vietnam-veteran Platoon Sergeant of mine gave me plenty of advice soon after I took over the Platoon as a Second Lieutenant. He said that clear expectations are a leader responsibility. Very little else will matter, he advised, if your soldiers don’t know what they will face when sent on a mission. Will it be dangerous? Will their lives be in jeopardy? Will it be a “cakewalk”?
Our young Boy Scouts were told what to pack (e.g., sleeping bag, bug spray, and swimming trunks) and what not to pack (e.g., electronics, snacks, and knives). Each item they bring or don’t bring is discussed. We explain why we don’t bring tasty snacks to the campsite (it attracts bugs and animals) and we talk to them about each item and the mistakes others have made when they ignored our warnings.
In the past, here at www.theleadermaker.com, I’ve written about setting expectations and its importance (see links here, here, and here). It bears repeating because of its importance and because leaders overlook this key component of real leadership.