This article was previously published on 3/08/2019.
Experience tells us strong female leaders aren’t born, they’re made. At Boys & Girls Clubs, we teach girls, young women and all youth to dream big. We offer a safe, supporting space where they can explore and develop skills they need to become problem-solvers, innovators and leaders. In doing so, Boys & Girls Clubs are helping build our next generation of leaders.
In honor of Women’s History Month, here are some proven strategies to empower the female leaders in your life.
- Help girls develop social and emotional skills. Leadership is a process, not a destination. Through social and emotional learning, girls can better understand the feelings of others, control their own emotions and behaviors, and build meaningful relationships—all essential leadership skills. Discuss these skills with the young women in your life. Use teachable moments to lead by example and reinforce these values.
- Inspire girls to take healthy risks. When girls aren’t confident, they don’t take risks for fear of messing up. Kids need to know failure is a natural part of growing and learning. Communicate personal stories about healthy risks you’ve taken, even when you were scared to do so. Tell them about times when you tried, failed, then tried again. By sharing moments of growth and failure, you can help build their confidence and courage.
- Use service learning to reveal their passions. Service learning puts kids at the center of their own learning. That can be discovering a personal passion, identifying a community need, designing a service project or affecting meaningful change in their community. In addition, research shows girls are especially motivated by helping others. They’ll also get the immediate satisfaction of building a better world in their own backyard.
- Spread the word. Representation matters. Elevating stories of female leaders can build girls’ interest and confidence to develop their own leadership skills. When you see a female leader in action, talk about it with your child. Whether it’s stories of women breaking barriers or people in your own world, seeing leaders as every-day people can inspire girls to be trailblazers, too.
Jennifer Bateman is National Vice President of Youth Development for Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
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