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Today I coached a group of four boys ages 12 and 13 with one other adult, Mike. This group was not related to Boy Scouts. The names have been changed to avoid potential embarrassment. The purpose was to conduct a planning meeting and make assignments as needed in 15 minutes or so. Brad’s role is to take the meeting minutes. He is13. Allen is the leader of the group and is 13 years old. Allen has two assistant leaders, Dan and David to help advise and make decisions. After the typical goofing around period, they got started. Allen called the group to order, paused, looked directly at me and asked, “What are we supposed to do?” I asked him, “Do you have the sample agendas I gave you last week?” He shook his head no (the meeting had not happened twice already for various reasons). I used the opportunity to point out that an agenda is simply a plan for a meeting to keep you on track. So Mike and I talked about the purposes of the group, and what they need to accomplish. After deciding they wanted to have all 10 boys follow a particular reading program, they were ready to move on. I asked, “Who’s going to offer the challenge to the rest of the boys?” Allen looked at Mike and I quizzically and asked, “What you mean?” So we briefly talked about how if everybody thinks somebody will do it nobody will do it, and that making assignments are part of how you delegate responsibilities. They didn’t seem to get that, so Mike asked, “Who will ask them to do the reading next week?” Dan asked “what do you mean?” So I told them I would do a role-play. “We’ll pretend that Allen assigned me to offer the challenge,” I said. Then I proceeded to demonstrate how I might do that. They all seemed to be shaking their heads like they understood better what we meant. So Mike asked, “Okay, so who are you going to assign to ask everybody next week to start the reading program?” Allen said “Oh!” as his body language indicated he got what we meant. Looking at the other three boys, Allen said, “Who would like to volunteer to tell everybody what to read next week?” David volunteered. I held up the reading program, and asked, “Do you think it might help the other boys to have copies of the reading program ready to hand out when you make the challenge?” Allen said, “Yeah.” Mike prompted, “Who will you assign to do that?” With great enthusiasm, Allen pointed at me and said, “You will bring the reading program next week!” Mike patiently coached, “Instead of ordering others to do things, you could ask them by saying ‘Will you…?’” Allen showing he understood better now turned to me and said more politely, “Will you bring copies of the reading program next week?” “Yes I will,” I responded. Mike then followed up,”You see, now he just committed to the assignment.” We then moved on to other parts of the meeting. Of course with this age there were the side conversations about sports or other unrelated topics, laughing and joking around. But they started to understand how to do this and had a little bit of practice. Then Mike turned to Brad and asked, “Did you write down the assignments?” Brad protested, “But I don’t have a pen or paper!” I handed him both as Mike explained that to do his job he needs to bring paper and pencil or pen. Mike made sure that Brad wrote down the assignments as he explained to all of them, “This way next week, you can ask Brad to pull out the list of assignments so you can follow-up.” Allen saw how that could help him and he checked to be sure Brad had the list written. By now 20 minutes were up, people were knocking on the door, and we had to close the meeting. They got some coaching. We’ll see how this turns out next week to see if everyone follows through and how they will handle it if not. Keep in mind they are 12 and 13 years old. There’s only so much attention span 12 and 13-year-olds are typically going to give to “leadership stuff.”

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KW Lanham


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