Leadership is a word we hear a lot in Girl Scouting. For 100 years, Girl Scouts has been helping girls discover, and fulfill, their leadership potential.
Yet how often do we have conversations about leadership -- especially the sometimes sensitive issues around women and leadership?
In early February, Girl Scouts of the USA launched its Year of the Girl campaign and the "ToGetHerThere" cause -- a multiyear effort to bring attention to and change the fact that too few women serve in leadership positions. One aspect of the campaign encourages learning and talking openly about what holds girls back, as well as what helps them succeed.
So, on the afternoon of February 7, 2012, that's exactly what we did.
Girl Scouts of Alaska invited the members of "Troop 49," an honorary Girl Scout troop comprised of Alaska's women legislators, commissioners, and the first lady, to join a small group of Juneau Girl Scouts for a dialogue about women and leadership.
With the help of facilitators Sharon Gaiptman and Sally Saddler, who themselves are successful women leaders in the Juneau community, a lively discussion took place for over an hour.
The legislators began by telling personal stories about what motivated them to run for office. They were then joined by the commissioners as they explained what routes each took to get where they are today.
Then, the Girl Scouts were given a chance to weigh in, responding to questions such as "What do you think it takes to be a leader?" with answers like "courage" and "determination."
Before leaving to return to their busy lives as leaders, the members of Troop 49, along with the other adults in the room, signed the ToGetHerThere pledge, a commitment to become informed, to speak up, and to invest in girls. Already, Troop 49 members' willingness to attend the event and speak so openly with girls has made a difference. Because, as we know in Girl Scouts, sometimes the real lessons aren't the ones that you can talk about or put into words.