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Leadership Philosophy

Leadership in Action

Girl Scouts is transforming the way the general public views leadership. It also is transforming the way it delivers its own program thanks, in part, to insights from girls and extensive research on current youth development models and best practices.

In 2008, the Girl Scout Research Institute based in New York released an original study, Change It Up! What Girls Say About Redefining Leadership. The study was based on research conducted with nearly 4,000 girls and boys around the country.

Some important findings of the study:

  • Girls embrace a leadership style that focuses on ethics, personal principles, and social change values.
  • Sixty-eight percent of survey respondents said they want to be a leader who "stands up for their beliefs and values," and 59 percent said they want to be a leader "who tries to change the world for the better." Girls are clearly telling us that we need to "change it up" in how we define and think about leadership.
  • Thirty-nine percent of girls say they want to be leaders. Despite this, girls face barriers that include a lack of self-confidence in their own skill set and competencies, stress, fear of speaking in front of others, peer pressure, and stereotypes about what it means to be a girl in today's society.
  • The desire for leadership is higher among African American (53 percent), Hispanic (50 percent) and Asian American (59 percent) girls compared to Caucasian girls (34 percent).
  • Girls' mothers are their main source of support in terms of leadership.
  • Girls feel that places for them to develop their leadership skills are scarce.
  • Girls feel that the power to change things or teach/help others in many environments is the kind of leadership most appealing to them.

This important study reaffirms Girl Scouting's commitment to providing a wide range of activities, workshops, camps, and interactive learning opportunities that encourage girls to develop their own leadership style. Most importantly, Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana invests in the development of local programming and resources that encourage girls to put their leadership into action to make the world a better place.

The Leadership Experience

Age-appropriate activities in Girl Scouting introduce girls to new concepts. Through these activities, caring adults encourage girls to explore a variety of related topics, empower them with the ability to choose the directions they will take to accomplish a goal, and then support them as they put their ideas into action. The experience often illuminates a girl's personal skills and interests and gives them the confidence to make an impact with their words and actions.

The New Girl Scout Leadership Experience represents a leap forward in how Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character.

In Girl Scouting, Discover + Connect + Take Action=Leadership. All Girl Scout experiences are intentionally designed to tie to one or more of the 15 national leadership outcomes, or benefits, categorized under the three keys to leadership.

Discover: Girls understand themselves and their values and use their knowledge and skills to explore the world. For example, girls in grades 4 and 5 learn to be better able to recognize how situations, attitudes, and the behaviors of others affect their sense of self.

Connect: Girls care about, inspire, and team with others locally and globally. In the Connect leadership key, girls in grades 2 – 3 are better able to show empathy toward others and can apply basic strategies for conflict resolution when conflicts arise.

Take Action: Girls act to make the world a better place. As an example, high-school-age girls can use their advocacy skills and knowledge to be more active on behalf of a cause, issue, or person, locally or globally.

The following 15 outcomes outline the specific knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviors, and values girls gain in Girl Scouting.


  • Girls develop a strong sense of self
  • Girls develop positive values
  • Girls gain practical life skills
  • Girls seek challenges in the world
  • Girls develop critical thinking


  • Girls develop healthy relationships
  • Girls promote cooperation and team building
  • Girls resolve conflicts
  • Girls advance diversity in a multicultural world
  • Girls feel connected to their communities locally and globally

Take Action

  • Girls identify community needs
  • Girls become resourceful problem solvers
  • Girls advocate for themselves and others, locally and globally
  • Girls educate and inspire others
  • Girls feel empowered to make a difference in the world

Girl Scout Research

Girls have a lot to say. And the Girl Scout Research Institute is their voice.

More than half of America's girls hope to have an effect on the world beyond the communities where they live. How do we know? We listen.

The Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) is the premier research organization devoted to the development and well-being of girls: not just Girl Scouts, but all girls.

GSRI informs adults about girls' issues and guides program development to make sure we are succeeding for every girl. Insights from GSRI have enabled us to map every step of the leadership journey as a girl discovers herself and her world, learns to connect to others, and takes action to improve the world around her.

Read on to learn more about the research and specific findings which shape our current dialogue about girls and the issues that impact them … as they grow to be strong girls, both inside and out.

What Girls are Saying …

More Youth Today Say They Would Make Responsible Choices than 20 Years Ago

More American teenagers say they would make responsible decisions on a range of issues from lying and cheating to smoking and drinking than young people just a generation ago.

Good Intentions: The Beliefs and Values of Teens and Tweens Today, reports the results of a nationwide survey of 3,263 girls and boys from the 3rd through 12th grades that queried them on issues ranging from ethics and diversity to civic involvement and peer pressure.

Conducted by the Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) and Harris Interactive, the survey is nearly identical to one Girl Scouts commissioned in 1989. A comparison of the two studies shows a marked shift toward more ethical and responsible beliefs and values and civic involvement among teens and tweens.

View the results:
· Press release -Download PDF
· Summary - Download PDF
· Tip Sheet for Parents - Download PDF
· Tip Sheet for Volunteers - Download PDF
· GSUSA Web site to Girl Scout Research Institute page here