My friend Martha Mayhood Mertz, who founded the Athena Foundation in the United States, has studied the thousands of women that have moved through her Athena program to develop their business and leadership acumen. She has identified eight recurring things these women all have in common:
- Live authentically
- Learn constantly
- Advocate fiercely
- Act courageously
- Foster collaboration
- Build relationships
- Give back
Confirming Martha’s internal survey, author John Gerzema studied 64,000 men and women for his newly released book Athena Doctrine. Mr. Gerzema ‘discovered’ what we already knew as women – that our collaborating, nurturing, synergistic styles are highly prized.
You may be surprised to know that many of the traits in Martha’s list are not things to be learned - many of us know or have these traits innately – but to be DONE in order for these traits to be manifested in leadership success.
I often reflect on how I came to know the things I know. Do you? As a Girl Scout at the age of six, I discovered learning different things was fun, became competitive as I sought to have the most badges or sell the most cookies, and perhaps most importantly of all, unconsciously grounded myself in the very principles I hold today. It is astonishing now to look back and realize how the very simple words of the Girl Scout Law have influenced my path for so long:
“I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and to respect myself and others, respect authority,
use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout”
Today, the Girl Scouting experience is defined as being leadership-focused and is grounded on three simple core concepts: discover, connect and take action. These principles are timeless to leaders of every age. When we understand ourselves and have a clear internal compass, we are ready to DISCOVER new paradigms. The more we experience, we learn that caring, serving, and inspiring others is how we CONNECT in our immediate local circle, but also in our community and world at large. As we learn about other cultures around us and in the world, we know that embracing those that are different from us is not only the right thing to do, but the only way to breed mutual understanding, respect, and good will. If we couple our tools of discovering and connecting, we will TAKE ACTION to better ourselves, others, and the world.
Discover, connect and take action. I can’t think of a better way to start than to join TIAW.
Lisa Kaiser Hickey