Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corporation.
Sam Walton, founder of Walmart and Sam’s Club.
Rex Tillerson, 69th Secretary of State.
You’re probably familiar with these names. But do you know where they got their start? Chances are, you don’t. But it’s from the same group where I was able to get my start. That group is called the Boy Scouts of America.
These are all people who have made a major impact and society and one can say their early upbringings dictate who they are today. The Eagle Scout rank is the highest rank in Boy Scouts. Reaching this rank earns you high regards that will accompany you for the rest of your life. You become a distinguished individual, cut from a rich cloth stitched together by the founders of this program, which is based on ethics, code of conduct and interpersonal development.
I became an Eagle Scout a few months ago. That accomplishment taught me lessons I use in the corporate world on a daily basis. It arms me with skills that common individuals develop from years of experience, trial, and error.
Some of the most influential individuals in history got their starts from the scouting program. So what gives an Eagle Scout the edge and ability to climb so high? Here are six traits ingrained in every Eagle Scout which sets them apart.
#1 Knowledge of Teamwork and the Skills Necessary to Bring the Best out in People
Forming teams can be the hardest part of any company or organization. You have all kinds of personalities coming together, often boxed in by a rigid time frame and strict rules. Eagle Scouts understand the power of a team because of the experiences they’ve had as Boy Scouts. When you are out in the middle of nowhere, all you have is your team. So not working together isn’t an option. Eagle Scouts know the team building stages: forming, storming, norming and performing. They also realize what it takes to create a good environment for all of this to take place in.
#2 Ability to Lead by Example, Not by Orders
It is very easy for a someone in charge to stand on a desk and scream orders. That doesn’t mean their team will obey, and it doesn’t make them a leader. Eagle Scouts do not lead by fear. They lead by example. It’s a skill they learn using the guidelines in the acronym EDGE. To lead by example, you must:
- Educate a person
- Demonstrate, to teach that person how it is done
- Guide them through the challenges, and
- Enable them to do more with positive reinforcement.
Another important leadership trait Eagle Scouts learn is to never delegate work they don’t want to do themselves.
#3 Master Listening and Communication Skills
The basics of any human interaction is creating and maintaining a conversation. It is how you lead, follow and learn. Eagle Scouts understand the power of maintaining a presence that is subtle but structured. Eagle Scouts fully understand the power of enabling people and allowing them to grow instead of being on top of a person at all times. That’s only possible when you are willing to listen to a person’s concerns or struggles, and effectively communicate back to them.
#4 A Powerful Code of Conduct
The Scout Oath and Law is the moral guiding compass for a scout. It is the baseline to scouting and builds in significance as one goes through the scouting program. It challenges Scouts to help others and be their best physically and mentally. It inspires them to cultivate virtues like loyalty, kindness, bravery, and cheerfulness. One cannot achieve the rank of Eagle Scout without taking the Oath and Law seriously and without exemplifying them. Societal norms are no match for the power of the Scout Oath and Law.
#5 Unshakable Confidence
From day one in the scouting program, you understand you are a leader and are pushed to communicate your thoughts. You’re thrown into the public speaking world in the process. To rank up in the program, you must hold a leadership position. This allows scouts to absorb the conduct of a confident person. It helps them become better leaders and operate with confidence.
#6 the Ability to Lead Well and Follow Even Better
In scouting, you are leading or being led. You get to work with many people with different personalities in an environment that mimics the real world. You can lead with confidence and follow with humility, and you can use any situation to further your growth and personal development.
Overall, I have enjoyed growing up in Boy Scouts and becoming an Eagle Scout. Today, I am proud to share my scouting experience with some very impressive alumni and notable Boy Scouts, including:
- Rex Tillerson—CEO of Exxon Mobil/US Secretary of State
- Neil Alden Armstrong—American astronaut and the first person to walk on the Moon.
- Hank Paulson—Former U.S. Treasury Secretary and CEO of Goldman Sachs
- W. Marriott Jr.—Chairman and CEO of Marriott International
- Charles F. Dolan—Founder of HBO and Cablevision
- Ross Perot—Founder of Perot Systems and former U.S. presidential candidate
- Michael Bloomberg—Mayor of New York City and founder of Bloomberg LP,
- Sam Walton—Founder of Wal-Mart
- Bill Gates—Co-Founder of Microsoft
The scouting program is something I would encourage any child to become involved in, and I would encourage any Boy Scout to aim for the rank of Eagle. The life lessons you’ll encounter on your journey will be invaluable.