Thursday, February 24, 2011

Leadership Skills

When I attended Wood Badge training last fall, one of the goals I set for myself was to teach the Venturing Leadership Skills Course (VLSC) to my young men. I had been looking into it and felt like it would be a major step in moving our crew toward the ideal of youth-led. It was a major project for me, and a great experience.

A few months ago I heard that the VLSC would be replaced. A couple weeks ago I went into my local Scout office and asked if they had the course materials or if they knew when this replacement would be available. They didn't know.

The very next day I found it on-line. The new training is being called Introduction to Leadership Skills for Crews or (ILSC), and can be found on the website. (I've included a link here, and on the "Helpful Links" section to the right.)

I've spent a little time looking at the new materials and I think it will be good. It includes quite a bit of the material from the VLSC combined with specific position training and a few new things that remind me of stuff we learned at Wood Badge.

The course is divided into three modules. They are:
  • Unit Organization--This module includes descriptions of unit leadership positions, crew organization, and introductions to vision and servant leadership.
  • Tools of the Trade--This module focuses on skills that will help Venturers lead, including communication, organization, planning, and teaching.
  • Leadership and Teamwork--The final module addresses characteristics of teams, team building, ethics and values of a leader, and a more in-depth discussion of vision.
Just for fun, lets compare that to the VLSC. It had eight modules in four distinct areas:
  • Vision
  • Communication
  • Organization
  • Synergism
The modules for VLSC were simply games and activities followed by reflection to teach principles related to one of the four leadership areas. The syllabus was direct, specific, and easy to follow. I especially liked the page layout/formatting. It was easy to see and follow.

In the ILSC, the page layout and formatting are harder to follow. Part of that might be due to a little "give" in the course materials. There are very specific things that are addressed, but the teaching seems to focus more on discussion than on presentation (although there is some of that). The syllabus therefore includes a lot of text that should probably be brought up in the discussion but not necessarily read from the book.

There are also games to play (followed by reflection), associated with each topic. Some of the games are identical to those used in the VLSC. Some are new. One thing I really like, though, is the appendix of "alternate games." This allows for a bit more personalization and variety.

Upon completion of the ILSC, trainees are then qualified to wear the "Trained" patch under their position patch on the uniform. There is not a special ILSC patch like there was for the VLSC.

In general, the ILSC seems to be focused more at crew officers, while the VLSC was intended for every crew member. There are some things I really liked about the VLSC that I haven't seen in ILSC, such as the discussion of Vision. The ILSC discussion of vision is more specifically focused on the crew's (or crew officers') vision for that crew. While that is really a good thing, I liked the general discussion in VLSC.

I'll need to look through the materials more before forming my final opinion on the ILSC. Aside from the awkward name, and less-friendly page format, I think there is a lot of good in it. I look forward to trying it out. Although just looking through it brought back a lot of the stress and anxiety I had while preparing for the VLSC last summer. I guess I'll need to learn to get help with big projects.

P.S. The Venturing Silver award requires Venturers to complete the VLSC. I haven't heard if the requirement language will change (probably) or if the ILSC will count (it would in my book), or if we'll just have to do both (not likely, but I might anyway).

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