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Co-Managing the Group

from LEAVEN, Vol. 34 No. 1, February - March 1998, pp. 9-10
by Rachael VerNooy
Media, Pennsylvania, USA

How do you and your co-Leader(s) split Leader jobs? Do you think of Leader responsibilities in terms of "jobs"? What communication systems do you and your co-Leader(s) have in place? Is your communication planned or does it just happen?

In our Group, Leaders use two distinct styles of co-managing: consensus and divided responsibility. Each has worked well for us, depending on the circumstances.

When I was first accredited, I had two co-Leaders. We fell into a pattern of getting together monthly for Leaders Meetings. These meetings were our primary tool for managing by consensus. At the meetings we:

  • decided who would lead upcoming Series Meetings (each Leader planned and presented her own);
  • filled out the monthly meeting report, discussing any concerns we had about the last meeting;
  • decided who we might ask to fill a Group job opening and which Leader would contact that mother;
  • discussed who might be a candidate for leadership and which Leader would approach her about it;
  • decided what to cover at Planning Meetings, whom to invite and how to split the list of mothers to ask them to attend;
  • planned fundraisers, publicity, extra meetings and Chapter Meetings;
  • discussed other concerns or questions.

When we decided to take on a project that was beyond our basic Leader responsibilities, we worked as a team, each Leader doing her part. For example, for a special meeting one Leader would arrange for a time and place, one would make up and distribute announcements, one would lead the meeting discussion.

These Leaders Meetings worked well for us because they were an efficient way to manage the Group. At that time, we all had lots of energy to devote to the Group and we enjoyed meeting with each other frequently.

Now our Group situation is different so we co-manage differently. We have four Leaders who have less time and energy to devote to basic Leader responsibilities. We all want more time for our families, additional LLL work or other volunteer activities. We devised a new plan: divided responsibility.

We held one big Leaders Meeting a few months ago. I drew up a list of Leader jobs and we split them up. At first the list looked long and scary, but we soon realized that many of the jobs require minimal effort.

Leader One:

act as Listed Leader (receive and share LLLI mailings)
maintain mailing list
supervise Group Treasury
supervise meeting refreshments
arrive early to set up Series Meetings
lead Planning Meetings

Leader Two:

copy and distribute meeting notices
buy office supplies in bulk and distribute
develop and implement ideas to keep older toddlers busy and quiet during meetings
stay after Series Meetings to check on clean up
arrange for Planning Meetings, inform attendees

Leader Three:

bring sign-in book to meeting and make sure everyone signs in
make follow-up calls to new mothers
fill out monthly meeting reports
supervise new mother packets and nametags
supervise sales items (books and slings)

Leader Four:

reserve meeting room for regular and special meetings
place orders to LLLI
supervise Group Library
supervise publicity
plan fundraisers

Where "supervise" is listed, a Group member usually is responsible for the job; the Leader acts as a resource and support.

Using this list, each of us can relax and focus on our assigned jobs. For example, since I'm not "Leader Four," I don't need to think about publicity.

Some Leaders are interested in optional Leader activities including planning Chapter Meetings, applying for grants, etc. We agreed that any Leader can do these things; she keeps the other Leaders informed and may ask them for ideas or advice.

At this same Leaders Meeting, we set up a schedule of who would lead Series Meetings for the next six months and who would make opening remarks and ending announcements.

The system of divided responsibilities is working well so far. We're all committed Leaders who do our assigned jobs effectively. This makes it easy to stop worrying about jobs that are assigned to someone else. There have been no major disagreements about how the Group functions and we allow minor disagreements to be decided by the Leader with responsibility for that area.

Our Group has had success with both the consensus and divided responsibility styles of co-managing. There may be other successful co-managing styles but they all have a common thread: they all include communication. Our Group has used Leaders Meetings - regular or occasional - to communicate. Other ways to keep in contact include phone conversations, email, postcards and getting together for Leader playgroups or other social activities.

Co-Leader communication is essential. If your Group could be managed more effectively, use these ideas as a springboard for discussion. Get all the Leaders together to discuss Group management. A smoothly running Group is an asset to LLL and the mothers we serve.

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