In leadership, they say assumption is the mother of confusion. If that’s true, discovering how to avoid those pitfalls is critical to effective Pathfinder leadership.As the wife of a retired retired Navy chief, I would often hear stories about leadership and overcoming obstacles. Now my husband is a pastor and often talks about how he has a seemingly simpler mission: taking 50 young adults on mission trips.
On one mission trip, he went over rules and schedules with his co-leaders. He assumed they understood that not only were they responsible for getting their group back on time, but they also needed to report to him as well. As they were boarding the bus, he noticed one of the co-leaders was missing. After hours of searching, the co-leader called to say she was not taking the bus.
Leadership guru John Maxwell says, “If you think you’re a leader, but no one’s following you, you’re only taking a walk.” You can never assume the people following your direction fully understand everything you want them to know. My husband learned that he should never assume the co-leaders understood they were also expected to report to him.
As a leader, make sure to ask yourself these key questions:
Do I have a plan for when something unexpected happens?
Have I provided effective training for my assigned leaders?
Did I set and communicate expectations for my assigned leaders?
- Planning and Communication: You may have developed a good plan, but have you shared it with clarity with your Pathfinder staff? Who will communicate it with your Pathfinders and, most importantly, with the parents? Even when an event has no pitfalls, have you considered holding a post-event meeting to discuss what worked well and what can be improved?
- Protecting Our Children: Have you done background screening with your volunteers? Have you checked if your volunteers went through the training part of the background check? Training is imperative to help avoid exposing children to neglect or abuse. Visit the Club ministries page on the Adventist Risk Management, Inc. (ARM) website for more information. A sample child protection plan is available from ARM as well.
- Providing Supervision: According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, supervision is “the action, process, or occupation of supervising, especially a critical watching and directing (as of activities or a course of action).” Supervision aims to provide accountability for both the supervisor and supervisee. Appropriate supervision into account for both the quality and quantity for your trainees. Learn more about supervision guidelines in ARM’s Youth Supervision Guidelines info-sheet.
- Starting Early: Do not wait until the last minute to train volunteers and give assignments. As the event gets closer, schedule a review of what you have already planned and communicated. Include a Q&A in your schedule. In our work at Adventist Risk Management, we have noticed that complacency regarding risk management is one of the greatest threats we face. As leaders, we can remedy this by making risk management a key priority at all levels of our organizations and by providing more intentional educational resources for our leaders, staff, and local volunteers. Protecting our organizations is something we can accomplish together.
- Arranging Parental Waivers: Why are waivers important for your volunteers to understand? What are the limitations of the waiver? Why do you need to use a waiver and what does it do? Here are a few things to consider:
- Waivers should be written in clear language.
- The waiver should clearly describe each specific activity.
- Sufficient time should be given for parents and guardians to review the waiver and ask questions.
- Action should be taken based on the responses and information shared.
ARM’s new Risk Training Center is an exciting way to offer safety and risk management training to employees and volunteers. We offer courses in English and Spanish, including Risk Management for Pastors, Risk Management for Safety Officers, and Guidance for Outbreaks of Communicable Disease. Later this year, ARM is bringing a new set of training modules forPathfinder leaders and educators. These courses are completely free of charge, and learners will receive a certificate of completion after finishing each course.
Remember, do not hesitate to reach out to account executives assigned in your area. ARM is ready to assist you with training your volunteers. Contact your conference for more information.
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