Cultivating Leadership

by Healmyvoice on July 19, 2014

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There was a period in my life where I discovered the rich experience of cultivating leaders vs being the person in charge who had all the answers.  The experience of working as a Girl Scout leader for 10 years changed the way I saw my role as a leader and expanded me as a person. I learned that my style of leadership was to find ways of empowering others and create an environment for them grow into being more of who they are. I learned when to stand on the stage and when to stand quietly in the background. I learned how to hold a space for someone’s leadership skills to emerge.

One year, a mother of one of the girls from my troop was organizing a court of awards ceremony at a large community event. Our troop was to provide Girl Scouts and flags from our troop for the ceremony. One of the Junior Girl Scouts named Mariam came to me and said she would like to be in the ceremony. She would like to carry a flag. When I mentioned this to the mother who was organizing the ceremony her immediate response was no because Mariam was too loud and boisterous and would never settle down for this serious ceremony. The mother said that Mariam would embarrass our troop by joking and laughing.

I disagreed with her. She was right about Mariam’s energy being loud and boisterous. Mariam had a big personality and she liked to push this limits. She was oozing with power and enthusiasm and was still learning how to channel it into creativity. She was a very talented artist and was full of life. For five years, I had watched her grow as she learned how to harness and use and direct her personal power. I believed that if she said she wanted be a part of this ceremony she would be able to focus and do the job. I knew my role was to support her and provide another experience that would lead her to become a powerful young woman. It was not to create a perfect ceremony. I stood up for Mariam, talked to the mother about giving each of the girls a chance to develop leadership skills and told her this was an opportunity for Mariam to stretch herself into a new situation. The mother reluctantly agreed.

I talked with Mariam about her desire. I let her know that I believed in her and that I stood up for her. I let her know that it was up to her to show us what she could do. This was her opportunity to be a leader for our troop and in the community.

On the day of the ceremony Mariam was excited and nervous. I gave her a hug, looked her in the eyes, told her I believed in her and encouraged her to enjoy the experience. Serious did not mean she couldn’t have fun and enjoy it. I was so proud of Mariam as I watched her stand up straight and proudly carry the flag. There was a moment when Mariam’s friend Katie, who was carrying a flag in the ceremony and walking next to Mariam, began to giggle. No one ever imagined that Katie would be the one to disrupt the ceremony during a moment of silence in the room. Mariam did not react. She stayed focused on honoring the flag, the ceremony and herself. She led the way and demonstrated a new leadership.

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 8.38.25 AMExperiences with the Girl Scouts is what helped me to form the structure for Heal My Voice programs and the Board of Directors for Heal My Voice. Creating environments for women to be leaders in the same space. Excavating desire and fanning the flames of that desire. Witnessing the emergence of a fuller expression of their leadership through writing, speaking and greater visibility on social media. Knowing when to listen, when to speak and when to shout my message from the mountaintop. Being inspired by the brilliant shining lights of women and receiving their inspiration.
(Photo of Authors of Heal My Voice project: Fearless Voices: True Stories by Courageous Women. )
I am grateful to all of the Girl Scouts and parents who provided such a rich learning experience for my own leadership to emerge. I am grateful to the women in Heal My Voice programs (over 100 women now!) who have trusted me to hold some of their most vulnerable, precious thoughts as they write a story to heal. In August, I am taking all of those experiences as I travel to Sweden and meet with Heal My Voice Sweden women in person.
What are you noticing with your leadership style? What is shifting and changing? What are your experiences? Post in the comments. We want to hear Your Voice!

To connect with Andrea and learn about current projects go to:

 IMG_1306Andrea Hylen believes in the power of a woman’s voice to usher in a new world. She is the founder of Heal My Voice, a Writing and Transition Coach, Orgasmic Meditation Teacher and co- author of Conscious Choices: An Evolutionary Woman’s Guide to Life. Andrea has discovered her unique gifts while parenting three daughters and learning to celebrate life after the deaths of her brother, son and husband. She currently lives in Los Angeles following the inspiration to collaborate with women in organizations and to travel around the world speaking and leading workshops. Her passion is connecting women to support each other in the full expression of who they are.

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