Perhaps no other members of the unit service team have a more important or demanding responsibility. As friends and counselors of unit leaders, unit commissioners operate quietly, generally in the background. They are effective communicators, providing the resources of the district and council to the units they serve. They aid the chartered organizations that operate the units through charters from the Boy Scouts of America.
Occasionally, unit commissioners find it necessary to recommend changes in personnel or in the way a unit is operating. Such action is taken with good judgment and tact and involves the chartered organization. Units are people. To help units succeed, today's commissioners must be people-oriented more than procedures-oriented. They are truly a council's front-line diplomats. Because Scouting operates mostly by persuasion rather than by legislation, commissioners must exercise the highest degree of diplomacy.
What are the qualities of Scouting's diplomat? Perhaps no single description
fits all situations. So, consider the following qualities, and apply them as
you recruit and assign commissioners to fit the needs of your district and its
Be an effective communicator.
Be a good listener.
Have sound judgment.
Have a Scouting background or be a fast-track learner.
Be persistent and patient.
Know and practice Scouting ideals.
Be a team player.
Unit Commissioner Responsibilities. Unit commissioners go about their duties in many ways. Their methods of service vary from telephone contacts to group meetings, from "hit-and-run" visits to planned personal conferences. All are important avenues that lead to the fulfillment of their mission, but the main "freeway" to successful service is the personal conference.
Much has been written and said about the job of unit commissioners, and no list can encompass all the tasks they may be called to perform. The following services, however, are top priority:
Maintain a close liaison with the chartered organization of the units they serve. This requires a working relationship with the chartered organization representative to strengthen Scouting's chartered organization concept.
Work to assure effective and active unit committees.
Facilitate the on-time annual charter renewal of all assigned units.
Help select and recruit unit leaders. Though the actual appointment is approved by the chartered organization, with help and action on the part of the chartered organization representative and the unit committee, the unit commissioner plays a key role in the process, making certain that proper techniques are used to locate and enlist the best possible leaders.
Because unit leaders are the key people through which Scouting objectives are carried out, commissioners must recognize the important qualities that make up successful unit leaders. Simply said, a good unit leader is a person of quality, high moral standards, dedication, and enthusiasm, a person who is well informed and who understands and puts into action the objectives of Scouting.
The process by which such a person is selected and the care with which we help that person be successful are unquestionably the most important responsibilities of the commissioner.
See that unit leadership gets adequate training.
Cultivate and maintain the best possible ongoing relationship with the unit leader.
See the Commissioner Fieldbook for Unit Service for a complete list of responsibilities.
Recruiting Cautions. Commissioners must not be registered as unit leaders. Although some commissioners may be registered on a unit committee because they have a son in the unit or because of previous personal history in the unit, their principal Scouting obligation should be with commissioner responsibilities.
Please don't assign unit commissioners to their own units or chartered organizations. A commissioner needs an objective view as an arm of the district and council. Avoid potential conflicts of interest.
Commissioners may be registered in only one commissioner position.
Commissioner Priorities. Unit commissioners should not fall into the trap of doing everything except their appointed job—unit service. Because of the many programs and activities of Scouting, unit commissioners might find themselves promoting projects, carrying messages, acting as judges, running Friends of Scouting campaigns, etc. While all these activities are unquestionably important, they are not the primary responsibilities of unit commissioners. Unit commissioners are expected to cooperate with other Scouting personnel related to specific programs but should not be responsible for them. Their job is to help units succeed!
Unit commissioners should never feel that "all is well" simply because they have casually contacted their packs and troops since the last report meeting. When units are moving steadily toward completing the BSA criteria for "quality units," the unit service plan is successful.
The total job of the unit commissioner is described in the Commissioner Fieldbook for Unit Service.