Risk, Failure and Lessons in Leadership for Girls

Print Share on LinkedIn More

February 4, 2012; Source: BBC | At the all-female Wimbledon High School in London, there is a lot of attention being paid to failure this week. The BBC reports that “workshops, activities and assemblies” on the single subject of failure will be available to girls at this independent school as a way to emphasize the sheer “value of having a go, rather than playing it safe and perhaps achieving less.” Whether giving girls a week to fail will have lasting positive results or not, the activity offers an opportunity to consider the complexity of communicating the concept of leadership to girls in a world that is quickly changing.

Last week, The Girl Scouts launched a one-year, $76 million campaign to promote leadership for girls that combines print and video advertisements with a new website, www.togetherthere.org. According to a recent story in the Philadelphia Inquirer, CEO Anna Maria Chavez pointed out that the effort is in response to a recent study of 1,000 girls between the ages of eight and 17 which revealed that girls frequently lack the confidence necessary to take on leadership roles. Chavez elaborated, “We see that they have the potential to step into leadership roles.” She added, “They just currently don’t have the support system in place to take the next step.”

The New York Times recently profiled one female leader who did take that next step: Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who has become a hero to young women by encouraging them to have high standards and to “keep your foot on the gas pedal.” While an exciting end goal, the mechanics of how to get more women to that point still seem a little unclear. –Anne Eigeman