Scouting Out Future Leaders

SaveMoneyGoal setting; sound decision making; problem solving; networking, embracing diversity…these factors have more in common than their presence across worldwide competency models. The preceding competencies are some of the many skills acquired by a girl scout. As many may be aware, Girl Scouts of America is dedicated to the development and empowerment of girls through experiences, friendships, and learning opportunities. Although I’m fairly familiar with the organization — I was a brownie myself and my Aunt recently retired from her position as CEO of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma — after further research, I was impressed to learn about the organization’s continual improvement efforts. Since its inception almost 100 years ago, the organization has progressed in conjunction with the issues facing young girls and with the evolution of women in business and leadership.

Last week, Fast Company released an article about the addition of an innovation component as part of the Girl Scouts’ curriculum. Young girls will be introduced to fields like web design and product development, and will work to obtain such honors as the “inventor” and “social innovation” badges. In today’s business environment, innovation is a key component of successful leadership. By providing these skills, the Girl Scouts are working to build strong female leaders for the future.

Beyond innovation, the Girl Scouts are offering programs focused on financial management, including “good credit,” “money manager,” and “budgeting” badges.

The new badges are among 136 unveiled in the Girl Scouts’ first program redesign in 25 years, the result of a years-long process in which scouts themselves laid out a list of skills they would like to learn. If it’s any indication how much things have changed, nearly 100 years ago, girl scouts were working toward “telegrapher” and “matron housekeeper” badges.

There’s something to be said about the balance maintained by the Girl Scouts. It’s essential for the organization to maintain the fun and flare that’s always been associated with being a Girl Scout, but also to remain forward-thinking and relevant. After reading about the organization’s program redesign, I was pleased to learn that such a balance is being achieved. Young girls will continue to enjoy Girl Scout traditions such as cookie sales, camping, and field trips, yet through these new programs, will become stronger students, community contributors, and eventually, leaders.