3 lessons from scouting that should be applied to business

By Wayne C. Hahne, Writing Intern

Effective leadership is known to be the source of success in society, but a question rarely asked is, what does it take to be an effective leader? The answer to that is different depending on whom you ask, but from the experience of an Eagle Scout, my personal answer is just that, experience.

Here are three components of leadership that can be applied to any aspect of life.

Love challenge

Besides attending school, how does one best learn something new? The easiest answer to get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself every chance you get.

Take, for example, speaking to people you don’t know; people you will see who you know are friendly but who you do not regularly talk to. It might come as a surprise, but the act of talking to a stranger and making friends is just as hard for adults as it is for kids.

In taking part in the new experience, not only will you meet more people, you will learn more about yourself. What do you do when you’re stressed? What do you do when you’re happy? What do you do when you’re angry? All of these questions eventually get answered as you interact with more new people.

In the professional world, not only is it crucial for you to know yourself, but it also helps to have various connections. I use the term connections to describe people that can help you get a job or help you in your career.

Communication is key

Whether it was in a room full of kids, a group of volunteers, or adults needing information, I noticed each shared a common trait in each situation. That trait would be that each was extremely more cooperative when I had spoken to them with respect and had given them full and undivided attention.

How I spoke to each person was simple: with my back straight, maintain clear eye contact and act professionally. Those communication tools came with plenty of examples and experience.

During my time in both scouting and other organizations, it was easy to tell the good examples from the bad. Meetings held by the good leaders involved things getting done while at the same time making it a pleasant experience. The bad leaders, however, could be characterized by the opposite, often yelling to get their point across.

The experience came with volunteer work, a focal point of scouting. Through time, taking charge was the best method to get things done. At first, I was awkward at leading and loathed the idea of doing so, but it came more and more naturally as more situations required it.

How does communication apply to the professional world? In professional establishments and relationships, it is commonplace to be respectful to one another. Being capable of speaking more effectively will you an edge that is crucial in the job search.

Research and study

In a leadership role, your memory and ability to use information at a moment’s notice will be tested. Knowing who you lead and information about potential future situations will help everything run smoothly.

Knowing the people you lead creates a more effective group than remaining ignorant of each person. Besides catching someone’s attention immeasurably quicker, showing that you know a person’s name gives the impression that you took the time to remember them.

When preparing for situations, say an interview, for example, it is important to know information ahead of time. People loath to answer questions about information easily found with a little bit of research. Asking creative questions leads to creative and unique answers that are not easily found if not widely known.

Leadership is not something that someone is born with but instead, is made through experience. Go out into the world not with the intention of leading it, but to better yourself before you do so.