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I Need a Co-Leader, but I'm Too Busy to Work with an Applicant!

Karin Gausman
Billings, Montana, USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 37 No. 3, June-July 2001, p. 57

It's been a long time since there has been an Applicant in your Group. At last your efforts have paid off, and a mother is interested in LLL leadership and ready to apply. Hooray! Now you are wondering how you will do all you want to do. You know the Applicant deserves and counts on your help with her preparation, and you already feel stretched to your limit. You know her accreditation will lighten your workload, but that is in the future. How will you ever find time now?

You might begin by prioritizing your LLL work. Could you cut back on extra Leader work, such as participating in outside speaking, organizing fundraisers, or leading Toddler Meetings? Going back to basics is a good recommendation for the Leader who feels overwhelmed. One of the basics (LEADER'S HANDBOOK, p. 4) is "helping other mothers... prepare to become LLL Leaders."

Perhaps you've taken on outside commitments. Some Leaders, recognizing that their expertise is unique and that others can help at school or in the community, have decided to focus on their LLL work for now. They plan to volunteer outside LLL in the future, when they have more time.

Do you have a co-Leader already? The two of you might take turns meeting with the Applicant. Perhaps each of you could take responsibility for different topics on the checklist in the LEADER'S HANDBOOK (pages 243-44). Maybe one of you would like to focus on discussions while the other helps more with "hands-on" preparation, such as planning a meeting, ordering from LLLI, and role-playing phone calls. You and your co-Leader will want to let your expertise and individual interests guide you in deciding how to divide the topics for discussion and practice. Collaborating this way can give the Applicant opportunities to observe different ways to organize materials and present information, and can contribute to her future co-leading relationship with each of you.

"But wait," you say. "My co-Leader is about to have a baby, has just accepted full-time employment, has five children, is going to move ... (You fill in the blank)...Maybe you feel like (or are) an overburdened lone Leader right now. How about finding ways to do more than one thing at a time? Could you meet at a park or playground or at a restaurant that has a children's play area? Combining an outing you've promised your children with a Leader Applicant meeting can be an efficient use of your time.

Is travel a problem for you? Perhaps you and the Applicant can "meet" by phone, or the Applicant might be able to come to your home. This could be a good opportunity to demonstrate how you organize your LLL materials and weave Leader responsibilities into your life. Showing something can be more efficient and effective than describing it. For your meeting day, you might plan a special children's activity that doesn't need your direct involvement. When your children are entertained, you can focus on your discussions about leadership preparation.

Perhaps more than one woman has applied and the prospect of double the meetings is daunting. One way to streamline is to meet with both Applicants at the same time. This will also provide an opportunity for them to learn from each other. Enthusiasm can be contagious!

You might find Evaluation/Enrichment Meetings a good time and place to combine your Leader work with helping the Applicant. You can explain relevant aspects of Group management while you conduct Group business. You could ask the Applicant to fill out the meeting report for the District Advisor. Group workers could explain how they do their jobs. Perhaps you and the Applicant could also arrive early or stay after others have left to discuss relevant topics.

Leader Applicant Workshops can be a wonderful place for Applicants to do some of the necessary learning, as well as to meet other Applicants in your area. One Leader can discuss a checklist topic with a number of Applicants, and working together can help keep enthusiasm high. District Workshops and Area Conferences can also help your future co-Leader to stay enthusiastic and focused on her preparation for leadership. When you receive a conference brochure, go over it with the Applicant, pointing out sessions that could most benefit her now or as a new Leader. Suggest that you carpool to a workshop, or ride the bus or train together. You can put travel time to good use talking about subjects that will benefit leadership preparation.

The Associate/Coordinator of Leader Accreditation (A/CLA) can be a great resource for you. She can suggest a variety of activities and exercises for you and the Applicant to choose from. The two of you can decide which will best fit with your schedules and available time as well as which will be most beneficial.

The time and efforts you make show the Applicant that you place high importance on her preparation. That message can inspire her. Before long you may be introducing a new Leader to your Group! You can be confident in her ability to help you manage and lead the Group because you know that with your help, she has prepared herself well for this new role.

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