Developing Girls' Leadership

Girls’ leadership can and should be an important part of programme design. Developing the leadership abilities and opportunities within a programme for the adolescent girl participants creates a pool of potential coaches, facilitators and female leaders for your sport programmes. This, in turn, increases the potential for these girls to grow as leaders in their communities. For more information on how Women Win understands the leadership of adolescent girls and our theory of change, go to the Empowering Adolescent Girls Through Sport section of this guide.

One of the most powerful ways to build leadership qualities in girls is to put girls in leadership roles. When girls are expected to lead others, they find power within themselves they might not know existed. This can come in the form of formal positions or informal relationships between girls. Creative programme leaders and coaches find subtle ways to facilitate this process and support all forms of leadership.

Tips for Developing Leadership:

  • Be patient. Leadership is a skill that is developed over time. Ask girls what they are good at and how they want to build their skills and confidence. Encourage them to lead their own development.
  • Allow girls to elect their own leaders.
  • Highlight examples of good leadership on and off the playing field.
  • Let girls train others in sport-specific, practical and life skills.
  • Show girls you value their opinions.
  • Explicitly talk about and encourage discussions about leadership values to girls regularly.
  • Lead by example as a coach or programme leader.
  • Support positive role modelling.
  • Allow girls to choose if they want to fill leadership roles.
  • Encourage girls to go out in community and be recognised.
  • Reward acts of leadership with outward praise and formal honours.
  • Create standards of what it takes to be a leader from both girls with and without disabilities.
  • Reward exceptional performance with leadership roles.
  • Give all girls opportunities to lead during practice, not just older, talented, non-disabled or more natural leaders.
  • Constantly encourage goal setting and evaluation.
  • Target inhibitors of leadership and address them, such as lack of confidence, peer pressure or poor mentoring.
  • Seek to help every girl develop to her highest personal potential, as opposed to constantly criticizing or comparing girls to one another.
  • Recognise quiet leadership in girls, those who are not outspoken or loud, but rather, those who will always run the extra lap with the slowest girl on the team.

Girl-Led Design

Personal empowerment and control are closely linked. Programme partners report that when a girl feels like she has control over her body, her future and her environment, she...

The Power of Role Models

Girls are exposed to both positive and negative role models every day: a strong mother who stands up against domestic abuse or a female celebrity that uses her sex appeal to be...

Tracking Individual Development

If a girl sees measurable indications of her movement towards personal empowerment, she will be more motivated to continue putting time and effort into a sport programme. An...