The recent shift in language at Girlguiding means that Leaders should be calling themselves just that, Leaders. However, I have encountered (and keep encountering) Leaders who either can’t or won’t embrace this change in particular.
As I understand it, Leaders still identify as Guiders for the following reasons:
It’s what they know
For many, they started out with the title of Guider and for them it’s either from force of habit and old habits die hard or, they have been in that role for so long that it has become a part of how they identify. Because those parts of us are hard to change sometimes they don’t feel comfortable with this new title.
They don’t understand the change
I think that this particular change maybe did not get communicated in full (or as much as some people needed it to be). I certainly was not emailed, phoned or spoken to about this change in any formal setting. Maybe some people needed that to wrap heir heads round why this change happened.
‘Girls in the lead’ still rings true to their approach
I personally think this is a good way to approach any meeting/event with girls so I don’t want people I stop doing that. What I mean by this is that I think some Leaders feel guilt in calling themselves a Leader out of fear that they are taking some of the ownership of the leadership role away from the girls. While this concern comes from a good place, it could have damaging consequences…
So, here is why I need you to stop calling me, you, your peers and other adult members of the guiding community ‘Guiders’.
1.Leadership comes in many forms.
If that guilt/fear I mentioned earlier is what is holding you back, take a moment to appreciate that leadership and leaders can take many forms. Just because you call yourself a Leader (and ask others to do the same) does not in anyway take the leadership roles the girls hold away from them.
A leader is some one who does just that; leads. Leadership involves the action of leading a group of people or an organisation, or the ability to do this. Synonyms of this include; guidance, direction and supervision. I don’t know about you but those three words sum up my regular meetings to a T.
2. When we call our selves Leaders, we are filling our communities and the girl’s immediate networks and relationships with a diverse range of female leaders as role models.
This representation of community level leaders is vital to ensure that girls have exposure to relatable female role models and exposure to the idea that they too can be leaders.
“When it comes to motivating young women, lead by example. A recent study co-authored by MIT economist Esther Duflo, underscores just how important female leaders are for the attitudes and ambitions of young women.” Eva Pereira – Forbes Woman
When you embrace your leadership title, you are reinforcing the idea that girls and women can be leaders.
3. I worked hard to gain my Adult Leader Qualification and I work hard to run my unit and contribute to Girlguiding locally.
When you don’t acknowledge my role, capacity, skills and ability as a leader, you are disempowering me as a leader. Remember that you and the women you work with are amazing leaders and you deserve to acknowledge that among yourselves.
I end this with one ask. Please embrace your title of Leader. Encourage others to do the same and encourage the girls to start seeing the leadership role they play now and how they are the leaders (guiding and other wise) of the future.