6. Support each other

Part 6 of my series on developing great leadership skills based on Girlguiding’s article here:

12 steps to becoming a great leader

“Sometimes, guiding means leading from behind the scenes, providing support and reassurance. On those occasions, try to listen carefully and respectfully, give constructive feedback, facilitate rather than direct, and provide pep talks when needed. Enabling others – both fellow volunteers and young group members – to take on responsibility is an important part of being a great leader.”

In our unit we have two Adult Leaders and four Young Leaders. Technically one becomes an Adult Leader in Training this month, and another later this year. Three of these four have been with us now for four years, and one has been with us nearly two. Supporting these young people through their Young Leadership has been a difficult task for me but I try my best to offer them every opportunity to complete it.

Each term we have one session where the Brownies give us their list of activities they’d like to do this term. Following that the whole leadership team sits down and discusses how we turn that into a termly plan, and at this point I offer out evenings for the Young Leaders to take over. As Young Leaders they need to complete one activity on the promise, and another couple on the Brownie programme. I make sure they pick activities that are from a different aspect to what they have already done, but aside from that they choose whatever they wish to do.

As they do one activity a term it takes them about two years to complete everything in their qualification. I try to set aside time during term to sit with each Young Leader and check how things are going, and try to help them plan what they should do next towards their qualification.

This year our two eldest Young Leaders completed their awards and I am so happy for them. They worked so hard for it both in the unit and at home.

Again, this is an aspect of leading I find difficult, it doesn’t come naturally to me to mentor these girls through this. I’m unsure if I come across as pushy or demanding, or expecting too much from them. But they have also proved very capable of leading successful activities.

You may look at our numbers and think having four Young Leaders is a lot. In all honesty when the fourth came to us and asked if she could join I felt it difficult to say ‘no’ to a young person wishing to volunteer. But actually having four Young Leaders works in both our favour and the young leaders. It allows them time in the unit to sit out and write up some aspects of the award. They take it in turns to use a meeting to plan their own upcoming meeting. It is rare that all four are able to join us for trips and holiday, but we know it is likely we will have one or two supporting us.

I’ve since had two more Guides wishing to join as Brownie Helpers and it is such a shame we cannot take them. They are directed to the right people to make more enquiries but I think for many joining the group that meets before their own is much easier on them and their parents.

I think moving forward with this I will try to make the arrival time at Brownies, except when speaking with parents, as a time to check in with the Young Leaders.