Girl Scouts of America: Leadership and Entrepreneurship Beyond Just Cookies

National president Connie Lindsey talks girl power she took straight to the boardroom

Connie Lindsey, national president, Girl Scouts of America (Image: File)

Courage. Honor. Honesty. Fairness. Respect. Responsibility.

These are all values that have been instilled in young girls since March 12, 1912, when the Girl Scouts of the United States of America was founded solely to instill pride, citizenship and skills development that had been previously only reserved only for boys.

This month, Girl Scouts celebrated its centennial with events and volunteer initiatives across the nation. The organization’s impact was so great that President Barrack Obama signed the Girl Scouts of the USA Commemorative Coin Act, authorizing the minting of 350,000 silver dollar coins and acknowledging the achievements of the millions of women influenced by Girl Scouting during the past 100 years.

One of those women is Connie Lindsey, executive vice president and head of corporate social responsibility at Northern Trust, Chicago. Lindsey has taken the leadership skills and confidence learned as a Girl Scout with her throughout her climb to the top in her career, and finds the experience to have been vital in her success. She now serves as the organization’s national president, carrying the torch passed to her by predecessors in empowering more girls and young women to compete in today’s fast-pace and competitive world.

To close out Women’s History Month, caught up with Lindsey on how the Girl Scouts has remained viable for 100 years, the leadership lessons she still uses today and how young women can reach greatness. Girl Scouts has reached its 100th year mark. How has it remain relevant in the lives of today’s girls?

Lindsey: Our organization, with 3.2 million members, ensures that girls can find who they are and practice healthy behaviors in an environment that makes sense. Today, girls need a place where they can learn about themselves, engage with one another and be empowered. Only 1 in 5 girls, [according to studies], believe they have what it takes to be leaders. [The Girl Scouts] provide a venue to develop confidence and leadership skills for women to pursue their dreams.

You hold a top position at Northern Trust, a leading wealth management firm. How have you been able to take what you learned being a Girl Scout with you in your career success?

I was a Girl Scout in Milwaukee at my church growing up, and it was there where I built confidence. In my career at Northern Trust, I was the first African American woman in history to become EVP, and courage, confidence, and character has flowed through my life in achieving that.

What are some tips you’d give someone on how to tap into that confidence and capture their dreams?

Connect your soul with your role. Use your gifts in your career. Also, really make sure as you do the work that you are prepared to do. It’s about continuous learning, education, preparation and listening.

What are five things girls/women can learn from Girl Scouts that relates to career or business?

Lindsey: Courage: Being able to find your voice wrapped in a set of values to have positive contribution.

Confidence: Using that voice in a way to engage in today’s issues; making a platform.

Character: Being aware of how we do the things we do and how we present ourselves to world and others.

Acceptance: Knowing here’s no one type of person who’s better than anyone else.

Leadership: A collaborative leadership, teamwork, and emotional intelligence that drives success.

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  • Diana Loiewski

    I am a former girl scout and I was a Daisy Scout Leader when my children were younger. Over the last ten years, I have worked as a teacher at the high school level and I am surprised at teen girls inability to develop healthy dating relationships. I believe that adults assume that their daughters know how to develop and maintain healthy relationships. The truth is that they don’t. Unfortunately, the role models (TV/ magazines) that teens have are not teaching that relationships take time and need to be investigated.

    I watch in horror as many teen girls suffer drama and pain because they have not paid attention to pink and red flags. They generally feel that sex is something that they should get involved with and that it is okay. I find my self walking through our campus and saying to couples who are engaged in lip locking: “If I took a picture and sent it to your mother , would she be pleased?” The latest research from the CDC shows that 1 of every 5 teen girls nation wide has experienced some sort of abuse (physical, sexual, mental) while attempting to experience dating relationships. In San Diego the statistics are even more grim, with 1 in every 3 teen girls reporting experiencing some sort of abuse. Healthy dating relationships is no longer a topic that we can assume young girls know how to have. Consequently, I have written a book and developed a program that I would love an opportunity to share with the Girl Scouts of America. Please respond and together let us further discuss this pressing need to ensure the safety of our teen girls.
    Diana Loiewski

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