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Leadership from Alongside

Yesterday I finally made it to Girls' Brigade for a normal evening.  It was fun, and good to be back among girls as they enjoyed playing and learning together.

Working with the Explorers (age 5 - 8) is always fun and necessitates its own unqiue model of leadership - that as 'from among.'  It is, I suppose, a kind of mothering model of leadership, whereby you sit on the floor with them and join in the activity they are doing.  Yes, you guide, direct and suggest; inevitably you help with skills they don't yet have; ultimately you decide when the activity is over and it is time to move on to the next one.

So, as you sit cross-legged on the floor to play 'Duck, Duck, Goose' you know that sooner or later some little girl will delightedly shout 'goose' as she pats your head forcing you to jump up (hmm) and run around the circle to try to catch her.  This kind of leader, the leader who comes alongside, who participates with, doesn't appear in any leadership courses/models I have come across, but it is a model that works really well in some circumstances and is probably not unlike 'facilitation.'  It is, perhaps almost a mentoring model, except that the leader will always determine the direction of travel.

The one big difference between working with Explorers and working with unruly adults of course is that with Explorers you simply stand still, stop speaking and put your hand up until they all do the same (ask any GB/BB/Guide/Scout leader!); adults would probably just ignore you!


  • As a Guider (sorry!) we were taught that with Brownies you led 'from in front', with Guides 'alongside' and Rangers 'from behind' - as a minister I guess sometimes you do all of these models at some point.

    As for raising your hand to get silence I did it on Sunday as my church sec struggled to be heard in the din at the start of the service and it worked. Well it went quiet anyway!

  • Hi Julie,
    don't apologise for being a Guider, Guides are a good thing and many of my friends are/were Guiders of various kinds.

    Impressed hand raising worked with your church - mine would probably think 'oh no, she's gone all charismatic on us...' ;-)

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