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The I's Have It!

Julia Keeling
Toronto Ontario Canada
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 38 No. 4, August-September 2002 p. 82.

“My Group Series Meetings are large. There are lots of enthusiastic Group workers. The mothers are keen to take jobs and help out at the meetings. I thought I’d have a co-Leader by now. Why isn’t anybody interested in leadership?” Does this sound familiar?

One of a Leader’s basic responsibilities is to take an active role in helping other mothers find out about LLL leadership and to help Leader Applicants prepare to become LLL Leaders. But how can you fulfill this if there is no member interested in applying? How do you find a Leader Applicant? The I’s have it! These four springboards to success are: Inform, Intuit, Inspire, Invite.


Interested Group members may not know how to go about becoming an LLL Leader. Others may feel they need to be asked first. Still others see no need for more Leaders when you are doing such a fine job yourself! There may be members who are concerned that leadership will take too much time on top of what they already contribute to the Group. Some women may think they lack the qualifications for leadership. You can address all of these situations when you provide information about becoming a Leader. Consider making “About LLL Leadership” an enrichment discussion at your next Group Evaluation Meeting. Hand out copies of “Becoming a La Leche League Leader” (No. 166-13).

Introduce a discussion of the sections on LLL philosophy, the prerequisites to applying for leadership, and the five basic responsibilities of a Leader. Remember to talk about the personal fulfillment and learning opportunities that leadership provides. Leave time during the meeting for the mothers to ask questions. You increase understanding when you provide information on becoming a Leader. You may find that some women will want to discuss leadership further.


Is there a particular Group worker who reflects a “picture” of a Leader? You know the one: she responds lovingly to her children; listens carefully and speaks thoughtfully during meeting discussions; projects a warm, caring attitude toward other women; and supports the Group faithfully—you “just know” she’d be a great Leader! As Leaders, we encourage mothers to listen to their instincts. Listen to your instinct—approach her! You may find that she is interested in leadership.
It’s easy to look only for mothers who are like you. Besides relying on intuition, look for mothers who use LLL philosophy. Take notice of the mothers who attend meetings regularly and offer help to other mothers rather than always asking for help. They are exhibiting some of the personal traits prerequisites. Do some “repeaters” offer to help tidy up after meetings, bring refreshments, or host the next series? These people are demonstrating support for the Group. They may be thinking about leadership.


Are the Group Members inspired by your leading style enough to want to be Leaders themselves? Be inspired to inspire others! Make leadership look rewarding by positive responses and behavior. Your enthusiasm is catching. Arrive at meetings well organized, calm, and ready to interact with the people there. Use visual aids and offer technical information appropriately. Remember to use the meeting guides from the Leader’s Handbook. Pick an opening question that encompasses many of the topics from your outline. With this approach, the mothers’ introductions can deliver much of the meeting information, showing the Leader’s role as facilitator, not lecturer (you will interject when necessary to ensure LLL information is presented clearly and accurately).


Having put information, intuition, and inspiration into action, you may be ready to invite one or more Group members to talk with you about leadership. Ask the member if she has ever thought about being a Leader. This approach can avoid either pressuring her into applying or promising her an application. Make a date to meet privately with her so she can ask questions, express concerns, and explore her understanding of LLL leadership.

Written resources provide effective background for what you will want to talk about. Bring the “Leader Application Packet” (No. 485-22) to your meeting as one of your resources and in case the interested member would like to see it. Besides “Becoming a La Leche League Leader,” it contains Appendix 18 (LLL Prerequisites to Applying for LLL Leadership—Guidelines for Leaders and the accreditation criteria) from the Policies and Standing Rules Notebook and the “Overview of Training Curriculum for Leader Accreditation.” The “Overview” can be a guide for discussion of the components of the application, the prerequisites for applying, and the responsibilities of LLL leadership. The Leader’s Handbook (1998) has guides for discussing each of the concepts of LLL philosophy on pages 230-33 and a checklist of topics for discussion during an application on pages 243-44.

Once you have both decided that an application is the next move, give the prospective Applicant her part of the Application Packet. Inform, Intuit, Inspire, and Invite. Soon you may be working with one or more Leader Applicants!

Julia Keeling was accredited in 1982 and led Series Meetings with LLL Canada for 10 years. In 1985 she began working in the Leader Accreditation Department. Presently she is the Administrator of Leader Accreditation (ALA) for LLL Canada. She is employed with the Toronto Public Library and sings in a chamber choir. Julia and her husband, David, have four children. Julia’s article first appeared in LLL Canada Affiliate Leader newsletter, Canadian Collage, November 2001. “Preparing for Leadership” is edited by Deb Roberts, Contributing Editor. Articles may be submitted to Deb at 2327 Benjamin Street NE, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA or robertsd at (email).

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