Selecting Quality Leaders

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Training Summary Recruiting is an ongoing responsibility. This session will provide an overview of the seven steps to recruiting a key adult unit leader and will prepare participants to recruit new leaders for their units’ needs.
Time Required 60 minutes
Target Audience
  • Chartered organization representatives
  • Scoutmasters and assistant Scoutmasters
  • Varsity team Coaches and assistant Coaches
  • Troop or team committee chairs
  • Troop or team committee members
Learning Objectives At the end of this lesson, participants will be able to implement the seven steps to recruiting a new unit leader.
Training Format Lecture, discussion, and role-play: Recruiting New Unit Leaders
Required Materials
  • Flip chart and markers
  • For each participant:
  • Recruitment Work Sheet (two per participant)
  • Selecting Quality Leaders, No. 18-981
  • Prospect Profiles handout
  • Role-Play Script handout
  • Adult Registration Application, No. 28-501B
  • Selecting Quality Leaders (video), No. AV-02V009
  • TV and VCR for showing video
Training Resources
  • Adult Registration Application, No. 28-501B
  • Selecting Quality Leaders, No. 18-981
  • Scoutmaster Handbook, No. 33009C
  • Troop Committee Guidebook, No. 34505B
  • Varsity Scout Guidebook, No. 34827A

Recruiting New Unit Leaders

Often when we need to recruit a new leader for our units, we use one of two methods. The first method is thinking of everyone that we know who we think would fit the bill. By recruiting new unit leaders this way, we either run out of people to recruit or we start asking the same people over and over again to fill our units’ needs. The second method is simply hoping that a new Scout joins the troop and one of his family members volunteers to become a new leader.

The problem with these methods is that we either do not fill our unit’s leadership needs or we recruit people who might not be the ideal match to the position.

The process that follows outlines an effective process of finding the right person to fill your unit’s leadership needs.

Before You Begin: Develop a List of Needs

Before you can recruit new unit leaders, it is important to know what you need. Recruits will want to know their responsibilities and your expectations for them. Having the answers to those questions at hand also will help you naturally avoid a common problem; for example, a group of assistant Scoutmasters who are given no specific tasks will do exactly what they are asked to do—nothing.

Ask participants: What are some positions that you would like to fill w ithin your unit?

List answers on the flip chart. Possible answers include:

  • Scoutmaster or Coach
  • Assistant Scoutmaster or Coach
  • Troop committee chair
  • Troop treasurer
  • Outdoor/activities chair
  • Advancement chair
  • Training chair
  • Membership chair
  • Equipment chair
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Chaplain

This lesson will allow participants to take a step-by-step practice run through the seven-step recruiting process. Distribute the Recruitment Work Sheet and have participants answer question 1, listing a specific position that needs to be filled within their unit.

Tell participants: Now that you have a title, you need a position description and a list of skills that an ideal prospect would possess.

Ask: Position descriptions can be found in various BSA literature. What are some of those?

List answers given on flip chart, possible answers include:

  • The Scoutmaster Handbook
  • Troop Committee Guidebook
  • Varsity Scout Guidebook

Distribute copies of these resources, and ask the participants to review the position descriptions for the positions they want to fill. Have them list their unit needs for that position on the Recruitment Work Sheet (questions 2 and 3).

Once you have defined the position you’re looking for, you can begin the recruiting process.

Step 1: Brief the Chartered Organization and Form a Steering Committee

Critical to the success of your Scouting program is the selection of quality leaders who represent the values of the Boy Scouts of America and the chartered organization. The selection process begins with a meeting of your chartered organization representative, the troop committee chair, and the unit commissioner to define the characteristics they would like to have in a new Scoutmaster or Coach. Also at this meeting, they should select a steering committee from the troop committee.

Your district executive can provide many support materials and can share recruiting techniques and other information that will be vital to your search for a quality leader. The chartered organization representative has the ultimate responsibility for selecting and approving troop/team leadership.

After briefing the chartered organization, the chartered organization representative appoints a steering committee to recruit new leaders.

Step 2: Meet With the Steering Committee

The chair of the steering committee sets a date and time for the meeting and notifies the steering committee members.

Be prepared for the meeting with lists of chartered organization members and parent rosters. At the meeting, the committee members will

  • See part one of the Selecting Quality Leaders video.
  • Develop a list of prospects that closely fit the descriptions in the video.

Members of the steering committee are charged with choosing prospects that live up to the values of the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives. They should not make assumptions about whether prospects will accept or have time for the position. Potential unit leaders need the opportunity to make their own decision.

Next, the steering committee approves and ranks the prospects, then prioritizes the top three in preferential order. The committee then submits its list to the head of the chartered organization for approval before contacting any of the prospects.

Review part two of the Selecting Quality Leaders video, which explains the vision of Scouting. The points made in the video are helpful in recruiting any new unit leader.

Based on their knowledge of the prospect, steering committee members can answer question 7 on the Recruitment Work Sheet, listing possible objections the prospect might raise. Steering committee members should be prepared with answers to these objections when they visit the prospect.

Step 3: Make an Appointment With the Prospect

Ask participants: Who should contact the prospect and schedule the appointment?

Explain that contact should be made by a member of the steering committee who is also personally acquainted with the prospect.

The appointment usually can be made over the telephone, but do not try to recruit the prospect in this initial call. Your objective is to set a time and place to meet, preferably at the prospect’s home. Let the prospect know that his or her spouse is welcome to join the discussion. If the prospect questions the purpose of the meeting, frankly state that it is to discuss a matter important to the youth of the community. After setting the appointment, confirm the time and place with the other members who will be making the visit.

The appointment call sets the stage for the steering committee to ask the prospect to accept a leadership role within the unit. Remember to be positive and encouraging. Also, confirm the date, time, and location of the meeting, and record it on the Recruitment Work Sheet (question 8). The person making the call should be personally acquainted with the prospect, preferably a personal friend.

Role-Play: Schedule the Appointment

Distribute the Role-Play Script and have groups of participants practice making the call to a prospect. Then lead participants in a review of the role-play. Ask them:

  • How did you feel when making the call?
  • How about when you were receiving the call?
  • Was this exercise helpful? If so, in what ways?

Step 4: Call On the Prospect

The steering committee members making the call should gather at a convenient place and arrive at the meeting place as a group. No more than three members of the steering committee should make the call.

Ask the prospect to serve in the desired position. Tell the candidate that he or she is the top choice for this important position. Remember to thank prospects and their spouses for their time.

If the top prospect cannot accept the position, the committee should repeat the process with the number 2 prospect. Do not be discouraged if the prospect turns you down. If you exhaust your list of prospects, go back to Step 2.

Role-Play: Call On the Prospect

Divide the participants into groups of four and assign the following roles:

  • An acquaintance of the prospect
  • A Scouter with the troop
  • The prospect
  • An observer

Have the groups use the sample script from Selecting Quality Leaders to recruit a top prospect.

When participants have had a few minutes to practice the role-play, lead the reflection time by asking:

  • How did you feel about making the pitch?
  • How about when you were receiving the pitch?
  • Was this exercise helpful? If so, in what ways?

Hopefully, your visit to recruit the prospect will be successful. If the prospect does agree to serve as a leader, the next step is to seal the deal.

Step 5: Complete the Membership Application

Now that you have successfully recruited the prospect, a big thank-you is in order!

The next step is to have the prospect complete the Adult Registration Application form. You can help with some of the information, such as the leadership code.

Hand out the Adult Registration Application for discussion. Be sure to cover how to properly fill out the following:

  • Position code
  • Names and addresses of references
  • Signatures of committee chair and chartered organization representative

The completed application is returned to the steering committee to review. If the individual has lived in the community for three or more years and is known to the steering committee, little additional screening would be required other than to obtain the appropriate signatures. If the individual is new to the area and/or unknown to the steering committee, be sure to check references and confirm previous Scouting experience.

Demonstrate to participants how to conduct a reference-check phone call.

Step 1 Introduce yourself and explain the purpose of the call.
Step 2 Ask how long the reference has known the prospect and what kind of relationship they have (i.e., work, school, family friend, etc.)
Step 3 Ask about how the prospect’s positive attributes could help the prospect in this leadership role.
Step 4 Ask for personal observations, especially interacting with youth if this position requires it.
Step 5 Ask if the prospect has any qualities or behaviors relating to the welfare of youth about which the steering committee should be concerned.
Step 6 Ask if the reference would feel comfortable having his or her own child supervised by the prospect.
Step 7 Always thank references for their assistance.

Be sure to make notes of the reference’s responses to take back to the committee.

When the application has been approved by the chartered organization, submit it as soon as possible to the council service center.

Step 6: Welcome the New Leader

Every step should be taken to ensure that the new leader is recognized for accepting this important position.

Once the prospect has accepted the position and been approved as a leader, the chartered organization representative should personally send a welcome letter. Place an announcement in the local newspaper and the chartered organization’s publication, if applicable, and schedule a formal induction ceremony for as soon as possible at a meeting of the chartered organization and the unit. At this introduction ceremony, present the badge of office to the new leader.

Step 7: Schedule Training

As soon as possible, every new leader should receive support materials and complete Fast Start training and Youth Protection training through the council’s Web site. A council representative should invite the new leader to the next scheduled leader-specific training for the assigned position.

The BSA wants each new leader to succeed in his or her role and to feel comfortable in helping the unit achieve its goals. If we fail to explain the expectations we have for the new leader and we fail to communicate the tools to do what is expected, then the odds of the new leader succeeding are greatly reduced.


Recruiting new leaders is a continuous process. We always need to be on the lookout for opportunities to expand the Scouting family, but we need to do so by recruiting the right person for the right position. We need to be aware, though, that the person we want to serve in a leadership position may not be available to serve at that time.

By following the seven steps to recruiting new unit leaders, we can avoid recruiting people just to have them around with no specific purpose. If we do not give them a job, then we risk that they will do nothing for us since we have never asked them to do anything.

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