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Preparing for Leadership: Getting Involved in Leader Accreditation: Here’s What You Can Do!

From: LEAVEN, Vol. 37 No. 6, December 2001-January 2002, pp. 129-130.
Nancy Spahr, LLLI Director
Leader Accreditation Department
Peru, IN US

Encourage interest in LLL leadership. What would work for you?

*Make sure the “Becoming a La Leche League Leader” brochure (No. 166-13) is available in a prominent place at meetings for interested mothers to peruse and/or take home. Show your enthusiasm for and pleasure in your Leader work.

*Make membership attractive and available; future Leader Applicants come from the ranks of our members.

Involve mothers in the Group by holding Evaluation/Enrichment Meetings and inviting them to take Group jobs. Some of these mothers may become interested in doing even more.

*Keep your eyes open for mothers who enjoy mothering through breastfeeding and who offer information and suggestions consistent with LLL’s. Ask them if they are interested in learning about what Leaders do. If they are, you can arrange individual meetings to discuss Leader responsibilities, LLL philosophy, and the prerequisites to applying. See “In Preparation for an Application: Leader’s Guide” (No. 120-11) in the LLLI Application Packet for more specifics.

*Hold an Interested Mothers Workshop and invite all mothers you believe may meet the prerequisites. Follow up with interested individuals, as above.

Feeling uncertain? Perhaps yours is one of these situations.

I have never worked with an Applicant before (or I haven’t worked with an Applicant for many years) and am unsure what to do.

The basic information you need is in Chapter 5 of the Leader’s Handbook and the “Leader Application Packet.” For supplementary published information, check back issues of Leaven and your Area Leaders’ Letter. Also, don’t forget your people resources. Other Leaders who are experienced in working with Applicants may be thrilled to recommend their favorite articles and/or successful ideas. Your local Leader Accreditation Department (LAD) representative will be happy to answer your questions, suggest specific resources, and offer ideas.

I’m no longer leading a Group. I’d like to help a Leader Applicant but don’t have the opportunity to do so.

Consider contacting a Group Leader in your locale and offering to help. Applicants can benefit from working with different Leaders, who have different strengths, styles, experiences, and areas of expertise. You, the other Leader(s), and the Applicant could develop a work plan that will take advantage of your particular skills and interests and accommodate your individual schedules.

You also (or instead) might be able to help an isolated candidate or Applicant—one who is not able to attend meetings (because of distance or other difficulties). If the isolated candidate/Applicant lives near you, you could meet with her in person; if she lives a distance from you, you can correspond with her by postal mail or email (and perhaps phone her occasionally). Your job will be to conduct the preliminary discussions that precede writing a recommendation for the candidate or to work with the Applicant on leadership topics and skills. Contact a LAD representative to pursue this rewarding work.

If you have specific experience or a particular area of interest or expertise (e.g., working with challenging breastfeeding situations, organizing materials, or communication skills and techniques), you might want to volunteer to help Leader Applicants in a workshop setting. Let Leaders who are planning these events know about your good ideas.

A mother in our Group would like to be a Leader, and she’s moving in about six months. Wouldn’t it be better for her to apply after her move?

Perhaps not! If you are certain that she meets the prerequisites and her interest and enthusiasm are high, please consider inviting her to apply now. Perhaps she could complete her application before moving and be ready to represent LLL in her new community! Or, if she is still an Applicant when she moves, her motivation, energy, and commitment to LLL can be part of what she brings to her new home and community. If you are not certain that she meets the prerequisites, talk with her about them and her experience; learn more about what she brings along with her interest in LLL leadership. The outcome of your discussions (and consultation with a LAD representative, if necessary) could lead to starting the application before she moves. Most Leaders are delighted when a Leader Applicant moves in and are eager to help her finish the application.

If there isn’t enough time to begin an application, your preliminary discussions with a member can acquaint her with Leader responsibilities and help her understand how her experiences fit with LLLI philosophy and fulfill the prerequisites. She will then be better prepared for discussions with other Leaders. You can help Leaders in an interested mother’s new community by writing a letter summarizing the discussions you’ve had with her and the outcome. Knowing the work you’ve already done and your suggestions can help them focus their discussions with her and may be further support for an application.

Our Group already has enough Leaders, and we really don’t need more.

More Leaders mean more ways and places to help more mothers. More Leader power can give you opportunities to diversify. Some of you might want to concentrate on outreach or volunteer to work at the Area, Affiliate, Division, or International level. Think about splitting your Group to offer mothers in your community more meeting options. And don’t forget that Leaders can unexpectedly retire or move; you can be thankful for the potential of a new Leader in the Group.

I know a mother who would make a wonderful Leader, but I just don’t have the time to work with a Leader Applicant.

Would your co-Leader or another Leader in your community be able to help work with her? Try combining your work with an Applicant with the Leader work you’re already doing. For example, explain about reporting while filling out your meeting report (or as she fills out the report); role-play some phone calls while traveling together to a workshop. Role-play hypothetical helping telephone calls or challenging meeting situations at an Evaluation/Enrichment Meeting. (Other Group members may be interested in what a Leader does; as they role-play different situations, they will be exploring ways they can contribute to Series Meetings discussions that are inviting, informative, and supportive for all mothers.) Encourage the Applicant to lead an enrichment discussion (for example, about an aspect of LLLI philosophy, about LLL beyond the Group and local community, or about an issue in your community, such as nursing in public). Invite her to plan the next Series Meeting, which you will lead; discuss how it went at the next Evaluation Meeting.

Working with a Leader Applicant can multiply the pleasure you receive from your other Leader work. It can be fun to discuss aspects of the Leader’s job and work on skills together. (You may see your knowledge and skills base expand too!) An Applicant’s energy and enthusiasm can be contagious; she may have some fresh new ideas or approaches your Group can consider.

I want to help mothers breastfeed their babies. I want to help others find the joy I did in mothering through breastfeeding. I want to bring LLL information and support to our community.

Chances are that you wrote something similar when you were a Leader Applicant. Today as a Leader you probably achieve your goals in a variety of ways. You may lead Series Meeting and help mothers one-to-one-in person, by telephone, and/or by email. You may lead special meetings, speak to professional or lay groups, work with peer counselors, or promote breastfeeding in other creative ways. As a Leader, you make a difference in your community. When you help a mother find out about LLL leadership and prepare to become a Leader, you expand LLL’s potential further. And should the new Leader you’ve helped accredit move, she can take LLL with her—perhaps to a place that has not had a Leader!

Nancy Spahr has been a La Leche League Leader for 24 years and is the mother of Tim, 28; Kimberly, 25; Tony, 21; and Emily, 15. She currently serves as LLLI LAD Director and is also enjoying working as sponsoring Leader for an isolated Leader Applicant in her locale. “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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