How Do You Lead...

. . . by Jeff Haltrecht

Jeff Haltrecht is a principal Leadership Coach at the Polaris Learning Academy and the Facilitator of the Polaris Alumni; he is a regular contributor to Polaris Digest.

How do you lead when your followers are 6 years old?

A typical unit has 15 girls; this one had to be capped at 30.  Most units struggle to find moms as volunteer leaders; this one has 6 with a waiting list.  Most parents want to shuttle their daughter(s) a short distance to the meeting; for this one they willingly drive across town.

Why is this Sparks unit one of the most successful in Guiding?

Sparks, the pre-curser to Brownies, is the place for 5 and 6 year-old girls to both socialize and expand their knowledge through real life experiences.  Like any group, the results are only as good as the leader, and this one has one of the best.

On first blush, you would think Sally (not her real name) is just like any suburban mom with multiple jobs, shuttling kids, and putting food on the table.  But she is not like the others.

Sally has this unique ability to both inspire little girls to explore, while creating the desire to contribute from the other moms.  In the lead role, she knows an open atmosphere of sharing has to come from a team of moms, not just herself.

Every week the 1-hour program runs like clockwork.  Each mom takes a turn executing an event they have created, while another mom backs them up in a support position.  They rotate their roles over the course of the winter program, ensuring the load is carried evenly and the ideas stay fresh.

By sharing the responsibility, the group-of-6 collectively feel accountable to the 30 Sparks.  Each week their mandate is to give them an experience that is ‘over-the-top’.  Based on participation, smiles, and stories, you know they are achieving their goal!

For the key to inspiring 30 girls is actually to create a place where other moms can be their best.