Leadership Approaches

How your group functions will depend on the personalities leadership styles of individual volunteers, and on how you agree to work together to make the group function. It is a very good idea to spend time as a group thinking about these factors and develop a shared understanding and agreement about how responsibilities are divided up. While many volunteers might share responsibility for a task, it is wise to make one person accountable for ensuring that important things, such as taking a group register, happen when they need to.
 
Styles of individual leaders 

Within Woodcraft Folk groups there are a wide range of different leadership styles. Everyone will have their own style of leadership. It is helpful to think of your own leadership style as a set of preferences about how you work with a group, acknowledging that you can vary how you actually behave as a leader to suit the situation and meet the needs of the group.
 
Different individuals might approach a situation in very different ways, but more than one approach can be successful. A diversity of leadership styles within a group may work well, with leaders complementing each other’s approach. If your group has a rota of leaders running sessions each week, you may consider managing your rota so that leaders whose preferred styles complement each other work together, or matching people’s leadership style to the nature of the activity.
 
A group agreement can help ensure that, regardless of differences in personal styles, leaders achieve some consistency about what behaviour is encouraged and what will be challenged. This can avoid young people becoming confused about what different leaders expect or tolerate, which can be disruptive to the group as a whole.
 
As a Woodcraft Folk leader you may find yourself demonstrating any or all of these styles while volunteering with children and young people:
 
Funny
Calm
Enthusiastic
Serious
Creative
Silly
Physical
Relaxed
Energetic
Strict
Knowledgeable
Coaching
Authoritative
Reflective
Inspiring
Outgoing
Thoughtful
Reassuring
 
Research with groups of volunteers about what skills, knowledge and attributes our volunteers need has helped generate this word cloud – the larger a word appears the more times it was mentioned in volunteers’ responses. It is clear from this that to find all of these in one individual would be truly exceptional – our groups thrive on the breadth of experience that different volunteers from a range of backgrounds bring with them:
 
 
Leaders & helpers
 
Every team of volunteers will find its own way to work together to run the group. Many groups make a distinction between ‘leaders’ and ‘helpers’. Others will consider every volunteer to be a ‘leader’.
 
In general terms, ‘leaders’ will be accountable for ensuring that the activity is run effectively, safely and in accordance with Woodcraft Folk’s principles and policies. ‘Helpers’ will provide support to the leaders to help the session run smoothly.
 
Possible approaches that your group could adopt include:
 
Regular Leaders, Regular Helpers
 
The group’s activities are led by the same two or three leaders each week. These leaders may have more experience than other volunteers in the group, or have completed a leader training programme. The same two or three volunteers normally attend the group as helpers, supporting the leaders, helping to manage behaviour and looking out for children who need some extra help. They may be newer volunteers, or DFs who are looking to gain more experience of supporting groups.
 
Regular Leaders, Helpers Rota
 
As above, but the helpers vary from week to week on a rota basis. They may be parents of children in the group, newer volunteers or DFs. This ensures that the children experience continuity from week to week, but lessens the burden on the leaders 
 
Regular Leaders, Drop-in Helpers
 
The group’s activities are led by the same two or three leaders each week. Other adults help for part of the session by doing particular tasks, e.g. attending at the start to collect subs and health forms, or coming at the end to get the snack ready. This means that the leaders are able to concentrate on the children and on running the activity safely, knowing that other tasks are taken care of.
 
Collective Leadership
 
The group does not divide its volunteers into ‘leaders’ and ‘helpers’, instead considering ‘leading’ and ‘helping’ as roles that they all play at different times. Different members of a team of volunteers take responsibility for leading the session, or part of a session, each week, while others support them by helping to manage behaviour etc. This approach can feel more co-operative, but it is important to ensure that all volunteers are clear about who is taking responsibility for which aspect of the session.
 
Key accountabilities
 
However the group’s volunteers choose to work together, they need to ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of what is expected of them before, during and after sessions.
 
Volunteer Responsibilities
 
Every volunteer shares in a responsibility to work together effectively and ensure the safety of children and young people in the group. All volunteers engaged in work with children and young people should at all times:
 
actively participate in the group
be reliable and trustworthy
be punctual
follow Safeguarding policy and procedures
follow the Woodcraft Folk Code of Conduct
respond positively to children and young people
seek to involve children and young people when planning activities
provide activities that are safe
ensure they are familiar with the plan for the session, and the risk assessment for the activity/venue
know the emergency procedures (e.g. evacuation in case of fire)
communicate clearly and professionally with other volunteers, children and parents/carers
follow Woodcraft’s equal opportunities policy
be clear about what’s expected of themselves, and be clear if this is too much for them
follow the Aims & Principles of Woodcraft Folk
be prepared to work co-operatively with others, regardless of age, gender, etc.
 
Leadership Accountabilities
 
The person leading a given session or activity is accountable for the smooth running and safety of the session. Tasks can be delegated to other volunteers as required – for example, a helper may take the register, but the session leader should make sure that this has been done. The session leader is accountable for ensuring:
 
the register is kept, and is up to date with the correct contact details
there are sufficient volunteers, enough of whom are Woodcraft members with DBS clearance, to run the activity safely
any supervised members are being supported by their named supervisor
there is a plan for the session, which has been risk assessed and correctly resourced
the session is accessible to all group members, making any reasonable adjustments for known additional needs
there is adequate provision for first aid, appropriate to the activity being undertaken
emergency procedures are known and understood
basic food hygiene practices are followed where appropriate
any money is handled appropriately and records are kept
any issues arising in the session are resolved, handed over or escalated as appropriate
 
Shared tasks to ensure sustainability
 
Planning beyond the short term is vital to ensure that the group continues to thrive. If these tasks fall on the same people who are leading every session, volunteers can burn out and jobs can go undone. Everyone supporting a group can play a part in:
 
organising training for other helpers and volunteers
sharing information from district/region
fundraising and financial planning
recruiting new volunteers to support groups
recruiting new children and young people
ensuring their programme explores Woodcraft’s Aims & Principles
managing the transition of children and young people to the next age group
review practices and procedures to keep up to date with good practice