Whether you’ve known your co-leader-to-be for years, or you two just met at a troop formation event, it’s important for you and your fellow troop leaders to become better acquainted before jumping feet-first into all things troop. Working with someone in a new capacity (i.e. troop leading) can shift the dynamics of even the steadiest relationship. Read on for four tips on building a great working relationship with your co-leader and tactics to set yourselves up for a successful Girl Scout year (And hopefully many more years to come!)
Make a Coffee Date
Pencil in some time to sit down with your co-leader before you meet with your girls or families. Making an effort to get to know your co-leader builds camaraderie and fosters strong bonds—both helpful when you’re tag-teaming troop leading! Bring a list of questions to go over together—a mix of fun and serious is always a good place to start. Need some conversation prompts?
- Why did you sign up to become a troop leader?
- What do you like to do in your free time?
- Where did you grow up?
- What holidays do you and your family celebrate?
- Where was the last place you vacationed?
- What’s one thing you hope our troop will be able to do this year?
- Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Define Your Role and Responsibilities
You and your co-leader bring different skills to the table as volunteers. Review your responsibilities as a troop leader (you can also find this list in the New Leader Guide), then talk about your strengths and expertise, and agree who will be responsible for what. Be sure to also discuss the division of labor—are you splitting duties 50/50? If not and one person is taking on more responsibilities than the other, are you both okay with that arrangement? Remember that this can and should be an on-going process—if a few months into your year, you decide that you’d like to step back a little, or your co-leader would like to play a bigger part in the troop leading, re-evaluate and re-tool.
Set Some Ground Rules
When your girls meet, one of the first things we recommend they do is create a troop agreement because it makes for more harmonious troop relationships. You can probably guess where I’m going with this—it’s not a bad idea for you and your co-leader to draft an agreement, too! It’s much easier to decide how you’ll handle conflict when you’re both clearheaded rather than in the heat of the moment. A few things you might want to discuss:
- How do you handle conflict? (Do you avoid it or do you prefer to address it directly?)
- If there was an issue with the troop (e.g., an issue with a girl’s behavior, an issue with a family, etc.), how would you like to have that issue brought up?
- What’s the best way to communicate with you? Do you prefer phone calls, emails, texts, carrier pigeons (just kidding about that last one)?
Schedule Regular Check-ins
We know, everyone’s calendar is already full to the brim, but try to reserve a few days throughout the year to check in with your co-leader. Use this opportunity not just to hash out troop meeting details, but also to find out how you’re both doing. Share recent challenges, questions, and anything else that’s happening in your life that might have an impact on your role as co-leader. Having these regular check-ins builds in set times throughout the year for you and your co-leader to take a breather to listen and offer support and guidance to each other. This also prevents issues from being pushed to the back burner and potentially snowballing into bigger problems.
Every relationship is an investment—as co-leaders, you’ll build from one another’s strengths, share in the fun, and learn from each other’s perspectives, so take some time to put these tips into place because they’ll pay off in the long run!
Lily Yu –Lily is a Program Resource Specialist at River Valleys. She earned her BA in comparative literature and Japanese from Hamilton College and has a background in publishing and advertising. Though she wasn’t a Girl Scout growing up, Lily is making up for lost time as a volunteer and troop cookie manager for her daughter’s Brownie troop. In her free time, she enjoys going for long walks, reading, and spending time with her family (and rescue dog, Neil!).