A Top-Ten List for Council Commissioners

Monte Oberlee, Council Commissioner, Clinton Valley Council

Some of you may stay up til almost midnight for David Letterman's top-ten list. Those in the central time zone find it an hour earlier. Today everyone seems to have their top-ten list, even commissioners.

My top-ten list is designed to help those of us who are council commissioners look at our priorities to guarantee good commissioner service.

NO. 10—COMMISSIONERS ARE GIVING PRIORITY ATTENTION TO CUB PACKS.

Cub Scouting is our entry-level program. First impressions are important to a boy and his family. Cub Scouting is a five-year program; that's an awesome opportunity to influence a boy—so Cub Scout retention is important.

Eighty seven percent of Boy Scouts have been Cub Scouts, thus healthy packs also influence Boy Scouts. Yes, a boy's first year in the program is critical!

Commissioners make sure that dens are active and fun. Priority is given to packs that need the most help. Commissioners see that all den leaders and Cubmasters have Basic Leader Training. And this time of the year, we take steps so that packs are active all summer.

NO. 9—COUNCIL COMMISSIONERS SET A PATTERN OF SERVICE CALLED "COMMISSIONER STYLE".

Commissioner style has 4 qualities: First is "service diplomacy." Unit commissioners are truly a council's front line diplomats. They are taught skills of diplomacy as described in the Commissioner Fieldbook.

Second is what we call "exceptional service." Exceptional service exceeds unit leader expectations rather than just meeting their expectations.

The third quality of commissioner style is called "roots and wings." We have roots as the keepers of Scouting traditions and standards. We also have wings as we help unit leaders understand changes and new ideas to keep Scouting relevant to a changing world.

The fourth quality is "good service recovery." That means knowing how to right a wrong when we make mistakes. Again, the Fieldbook has great ideas to help us right a wrong.

That's commissioner style.

NO. 8—COMMISSIONER TRAINING IS A CONTINUING PROCESS FOR ALL COMMISSIONERS.

Be sure districts provide immediate orientation for new commissioners. Then new commissioners receive basic training within 2 months of being recruited.

After that they experience training topics at every meeting, every month. Upgrade the quality of your annual council commissioner conference. Do everything possible to attract a maximum attendance—pick an attractive setting and keep it close to home.

NO. 7—WORK AS PART OF THE COUNCIL KEY-3 TO BE SURE ADEQUATE COMMISSIONER SERVICE IS ONE OF THE TOP PRIORITIES IN EVERY DISTRICT IN THE COUNCIL.

Matching efforts means maximizing the results! Be sure that your council's Mission and Vision are up front all the time. Keep your Commissioner staff efforts consistent with that mission. This keeps everyone pulling the wagon in the same direction!

NO. 6—PREVENT DROPPED UNITS

Be sure each district has a commitment and a strategy to provide prompt, intensive, and persistent care when major problems occur that could threaten the life of a unit.

Develop a no-lapse/no-drop commitment in the council and each of its districts.

Some of us call it—"commissioner lifesaving"—providing prompt, intensive, and often persistent care when major problems occur. A good commissioner is prepared to respond quickly when a unit has a unit life-threatening situation.

The NO. 5 way to guarantee good commissioner service: Although a commissioner needs unit program information, his or her success depends largely on good people skills to effectively serve unit adults.

This happens when your district commissioners recruit persons with good people skills, and your people use the human relations guidelines in the Commissioner Fieldbook.

NO. 4—BE SURE EVERY DISTRICT HAS A COMPLETE STAFF.

Ensure adequate recruiting in all districts to achieve a ratio of one unit commissioner for every three units and one ADC for every five unit commissioners.

Join with the Scout executive to hold district commissioners and district executives accountable.

Teach your key people the recruiting ideas found in the Commissioner Administration manual.

NO. 3—HAVE QUALITY DISTRICT COMMISSIONERS.

Work to upgrade the quality of people serving as district commissioners and uphold a high standard for their performance.

Help district chairmen and Scout professionals understand the qualities needed for a good district commissioner. Serve on a district nominating committee in those districts where the council president believes you could help the district replace its district commissioner.

NO. 2—COMMISSIONER/PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIPS SHOULD INVOLVE THE FINEST FRATERNAL QUALITIES. THEY BOTH SHARE THE WREATH OF SERVICE.

Good volunteer-professional relationships are characterized by mutual trust, mutual respect, and mutual recognition of each other's role and competency.

When the partnership is working well, both partners are aware of their interdependence, they have complete confidence in each other, and they share the same objectives.

If partners have complete confidence in each other, they will seek each other's counsel. Neither partner has a monopoly on wisdom, judgment, or experience. When the full resources of both parties are applied to decision making, the combination is unbeatable.

AND—DRUM ROLL—THE NO. 1 WAY TO GUARANTEE GOOD COMMISSIONER SERVICE: BE A PERSON OF VISION.

Give all commissioners a vision of what it means to provide exceptional commissioner service to Scout units throughout the council.

The only reason for having commissioners is to help units succeed. People need a vision of the great things that they can accomplish. Good commissioner leadership projects such a vision.

These top 10 are our priorities as a council commissioner. In like manner, you and your district commissioners help unit commissioners set their priorities. Unit commissioners should not fall into the trap of doing everything except their appointed job—helping units succeed.

  • They visit units as Wayne Bishop shared earlier.
  • Then they help improve unit program and solve problems.
  • And they see that each unit gets rechartered as Steve Bradley shared with us a few minutes ago.

Good luck my fellow council commissioners and thank you for all you do for youth.