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Follow the Collaborative Leader

October 4, 2012

This week our Atlanta Girls on Track teams learned the importance of collaborative leadership. This Fulton GOT group’s day began with the human knot challenge.  Throughout the tangled task, many of the girls unknowingly portrayed collaborative leadership qualities, including providing direction and listening to everyone. After the activity, the coaches informed the girls of the leadership traits that emerged within the group; thus, some discovered that they possess the makings of a collaborative leader. Ultimately, the girls did “knot” let this activity get the best of them, as they solved the tricky test together.

When asked to list famous females who possess leadership qualities, the girls named women such as Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, and Robin Roberts. The group shared why they believed these women exemplify collaborative leaders. For example, Oprah and Ellen listen to others and have perspective on their talk shows. Both use their leadership strengths to motivate their guests and viewers while simultaneously acting as role models for American girls and women. As for Robin, she provides an example and encouragement for others through her health struggles, including her battle with breast cancer.

Another collaborative leader is Kathy Betty, the 2010 owner of the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream. Within this podcast, Kathy explains why she bought the Atlanta Dream—“with the thought of inspiring young girls”—and shares these statistics: “If young girls play sports, there’s a 20% higher graduation rate, not only in high school but college as well. And if you look at women employment between the age[s] of twenty five and thirty five, there’s a 40% higher employment rate if the woman played sports growing up. And if you go all the way to the top, to the Fortune 500 female executives, 80% played sports growing up.” In addition to her desire to guide and inspire, Kathy displays other leadership traits as well. In a separate interview, one of the Dream’s players declared, “[Kathy] really cares… She’s not just the owner, she’s part of the team.” This player’s statement both highlights Kathy’s care for the group and exemplifies her collaborative leadership qualities.

In reference to their own leadership traits, the girls celebrated themselves and their fellow Girls on Track teammates throughout the afternoon. First, the girls were encouraged to posit the attributes they believed they brought to a group or team. These qualities ranged from making others laugh or being a good listener, to taking charge or uplifting others.

Later, the girls collaboratively chose a positive quality that each Girls on Track teammate possessed. For instance, certain girls were commended for their positive attitudes or artistic talents, while others were praised for their creativity or ability make everyone feel included. Overall, every girl discovered that the qualities of a leader are numerous and that she possesses certain leadership traits herself.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” –John Quincy Adams

Article and images by Darlene Vincent, GOTR Atlanta’s fall intern from Georgia Gwinnett College

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