I have had the pleasure of being a troop leader for my daughter’s girl scout troop for the past five years. The mission statement of the girl scouts is, “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place (Girl Scouts, 2019).” While reading about servant Leadership in class, I could not help but relate this approach to how assistant leaders and I lead out the troop. Servant Leadership is based on the idea that servant leaders place the good of followers over their self-interests and emphasize follower’s development (Northouse, 2016, p. 226). Our troop, like many troops, is led by volunteers who are there to help empower the girls to be the best that they can be.
Servant Leadership is based on Robert Greenleaf’s seminal works (Northouse, 2016, p. 226). In his works, he advocated using communication to build consensus in groups, and that servant leaders have a social responsibility to help those less privileged than themselves (Northouse, 2016, p. 227). From these early writings, the first model, which identified ten characteristics, was developed by Spears (Northouse, 2016, p. 227). The characteristics identified were; listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship. Commitment to the growth of people, and building community (Northouse, 2016, pp. 227-229). From this first model, many other models have been developed, including the one by Liden, Wayne, Zhao, and Hederson (2008) and Liden, Pannaccio, Hu, and Meuser (2014) (Northouse, 2016, p. 231). This model best describes the Leadership of my Girl Scout troop. The model has three main components antecedent conditions, servant leader behaviors, and leadership outcomes (Northouse, 2016, p. 231).
Three antecedent conditions impact servant L\leadership. These are context and culture, leader attributes, and follower receptivity (Northouse, 2016, p. 231). The context and culture of the girl scouts are one the fosters a caring atmosphere for the girls to be able to grow. In our troop, all the power is shared equally. Everyone is involved in all the decision making, whether it be what badges we go for, what charities we donate time and money too, or what trips we enjoy. Servant leaders must have the right attributes to help it succeed. Our troop is very lucky that all our leaders are very motivated to help the girls. The final antecedent condition is follower receptivity. Many of the girls in our troop have been with us for years and have seemed to benefit and enjoy our leadership style.
There are seven leader behaviors that core of servant Leadership (Northouse, 2016, p. 233). The first behavior is conceptualizing; this refers to the leaders through an understanding of the organization its purpose, complexities, and mission (Northouse, 2016, p. 233). All troop leaders have to do training before they can become a leader. In this training, you learn what the girl scout mission is, why Juliette Low started the girl scouts and why it is important for the girls. The next behavior servant leaders should practice emotional healing (Northouse, 2016, p. 234). Emotional healing means that the leader is sensitive to personal concerns and well being of others (Northouse, 2016, p. 234). In our troop, we have taken time every meeting to talk as a group about anything that is happening lately with us and how we are feeling. It could be about the problems we are having at school, in the troop, or at home. Putting followers first is another important behavior in servant Leadership (Northouse, 2016, p. 234). As troop leaders, we always put our followers first; if a girl needs something and cannot afford it, we as a troop try to provide it for them. We also will reschedule meetings if the girls cannot be there due to other obligations such as sports or school activities. Another important behavior is helping followers grow and succeed. A servant leader knows their follower’s goals and helps them accomplish those aspirations (Northouse, 2016, p. 234). Our girls decided they wanted to earn their silver award. We, as leaders, facilitated, there take action project. Behaving ethically means that servant leaders do the right thing in the right way (Northouse, 2016, p. 235). As a troop, we share our space for cookie sales because it is the right thing to do. Empowering followers is an important leader behavior (Northouse, 2016, p. 235). This means that you let your followers make their own decisions and be self-sufficient. Our girls make many decisions, including what to do with the money they earn. They decided what reward trip they get and have decided to go to beach jam the past few years. The final behavior is creating value for the community (Northouse, 2016, p. 235). We create value for our community by volunteering at the retirement home, donating cookies to Ronald McDonald house, and cleaning up litter.
Outcomes are the final component of servant Leadership. These outcomes are follower performance, organizational growth performance, and societal impact (Northouse, 2016, p. 236). Follower performance and growth means that followers will realize their full capabilities and gain control (Northouse, 2016, p. 236). Our girl scouts did not think that they would be able to make enough money to be able to rent a beach condo. They decided how many boxes of cookies we needed to sell to get what they wanted. They also decided the best way to reach the goal. Organizational performance is also important (Northouse, 2016, p. 238). Our troop has been very successful, with all five girls receiving a silver star award. Societal impacts are also another important outcome of servant Leadership. Our troop has been very active in our community and helped older adults by volunteering at their retirement community.
Servant Leadership has benefited my troop and me. As the years have gone by, the troop has become more and more independent. It has been a joy to watch them grow into themselves.
Girl Scouts. (2019, November 10). Who We Are. Retrieved from Girl Scouts: https://www.girlscouts.org/en/about-girl-scouts/who-we-are.html
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.