Archive for August, 2014

Scouts As Managers

August 5, 2014

Scouts as Managers

Two very different thoughts converged recently, and I realized how closely they

were connected.

The first thought includes the basic principles of managing and communicating that apply to all businesses today, and the second comes from my youth long ago. A great deal has already been written about the “do’s” and “how to’s” of managing. I even contributed two titles to the collection within the past couple of years. (“Becoming a Successful Manager” and “Mottoes for Managing”) The variety of perspectives and experiences has provided a wealth of information for both new and experienced managers, and three simple words serve as a daily reminder about where and how we focus our energies.

Those words are: Your Behavior Counts.

In my younger days, like many young boys, I became a Boy Scout. I had fun, and I learned a lot at the same time.

I didn’t know how well I had learned some lessons until I found myself referencing the Scout Law as I was conducting a business seminar recently. I realized every characteristic in the Scout law is essential to being a good manager.

In case you forgot them, here are the twelve items in the Scout Law.

A Scout is “Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.”

It seems clear that, while we were learning to tie knots and pitch tents we were also learning how to manage businesses.

Now, let’s take a short side trip for a moment, and I’ll connect the two thoughts.

In Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken”, he describes a fork in the road in the woods – a fork in the road. He reflects on selecting one path and leaving the other for another time. In the final line of the poem he says making a choice “…has made all the difference.”

I have thought about that final line often over the years whenever I had to make a decision – simple or difficult. Every decision, no matter how complex, eventually comes down to a “yes – no” choice.

Do you go to the left or to the right?

Do you walk or ride?

Do you want paper or plastic?

Do you want to buy a Mac or a PC?

Sometimes it’s difficult getting to the specific decision point, but sooner or later the actual decision has to be made. It’s either “yes”, or its “no”.

As for the two lines of thought, I guess I just looked at that fork in the road from the opposite direction. From that perspective the two separate paths came together.

The Scout Law and the principles of managing suddenly became the same.

The characteristics that made a good Boy Scout many years ago are exactly the same characteristics that make a good manager today.

So, I invite you now to revisit your own scouting days either as a Boy Scout or a Girl Scout. If you were not a scout, just reflect on the twelve parts of the Law.                                    If business executives had followed the Scout Law (Boy or Girl) there would have been no AIG, no Enron, no Global Crossing, no Worldcom, no Fannie Mae, no Freddy Mac, no Congressional “earmarks”. There would still be an Arthur Andersen.

There would be no identity theft, no frivolous lawsuits, and no insurance fraud.

Like so many principles, these twelve items are easy to articulate, but their simplicity can be deceptive. Be alert.

Because we are dealing with personal behaviors and qualities – all of which are positive – exercise caution. A colleague and sometimes coauthor, Jack H. Grossman, once shared this very important concept with me. He said:

“Any positive quality – when taken to an extreme – produces negative results.”

Just think about that!

Trust becomes Gullible,

Obedient becomes Subservient

Reverent becomes Fanatical

You can fill in the rest.

It’s important for us to let common sense prevail and to exercise sound judgment as we apply the Scout Law in our business lives because our behavior counts – always.