Everyday Leadership

I used to think that being a leader meant being the head of an organization or a group. The experience of working as a Girl Scout leader for 10 years changed that thinking. I learned that leadership for me was more about finding ways of empowering others and creating an environment for them to be more of who they are.

One year, in the spring a mother of one of the girls from my troop was organizing a court of awards ceremony at a large community event. Our troop was to provide Girl Scouts and flags from our troop for the ceremony. One of the Junior Girl Scouts named Mariam came to me and said she would like to be in the ceremony. She would like to carry a flag. When I mentioned this to the mother who was organizing the ceremony, her reaction was no because Mariam was too loud and boisterous and would never settle down for this serious ceremony. The mother said that Mariam would embarrass our troop.

I disagreed with her. She was right about Mariam’s energy. Mariam had a big personality and she liked to push this limits. She all of this power within her and was learning to channel it into creativity. She was a very talented artist and was full of life. For five years I had watched her grow into her personal power. I believed that if she said she wanted to do it, that she would be able to focus on the job. I knew my job was to support her in becoming more of who she was as a powerful young woman. It was not to create a perfect ceremony. I stood up for Mariam, talked to the mother about giving each of the girls a chance to develop leadership skills and this was an opportunity for Mariam to stretch herself into a new situation. The mother reluctantly agreed.

I talked with Mariam. I let her know that I believed in her and I that I stood up for her. I let her know that it was up to her to show us what she could do. This was her opportunity to be a leader.

On the day of the ceremony Mariam was excited and nervous. I gave her a hug, told her I believed in her and to enjoy the experience. I was so proud of Mariam as I watched her stand up straight and proudly carrying the flag. There was a moment when Mariam’s friend Katie, carrying a flag in the ceremony and walking next to Mariam began to giggle. No one ever imagined that Katie would be the one to disrupt the seriousness of the ceremony. Mariam did not react. She stayed focused on honoring the flag, the ceremony and herself. She led the way and demonstrated a new leadership.

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