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When I'd Rather Not Recommend

Trudy Hart
Transition Director of the Leader Accreditation Department
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 30 No. 2, March-April 1994, p. 28

A signed recommendation form is usually considered a Leader's endorsement of an application. But what does a Leader do if she doesn't endorse the application? What can she do if she has reservations about a mother's philosophy or approach? There isn't a "no-recommendation form" in the Application Packet. Does that mean the Leader Accreditation Department isn't interested in anything but approving comments?

In addition to "endorse," recommend also means to "advise." You can use the recommendation form to advise us of your support of an application or that you do not endorse it, or of concerns you think need to be addressed during an application.

If you find yourself in a position of objecting to an application, your objections are important. Voice them first to the sponsoring Leader. She might not have observed what you have and will return to the potential Applicant to discuss it. They might decide not to go forward with the application or to consult with the A/CLA, or they could decide to proceed and will explain their decision to you. Another possibility is that the sponsoring Leader and the mother already realize that there's a problem and, on their own or after consulting with the A/CLA, have decided that it shouldn't threaten an application. Perhaps they have planned how they will work during the application to remove the cause for concern and/or they'll invite your suggestions and assistance.

Suppose you've voiced your concern and the sponsoring Leader isn't interested, or that you've discussed your objections and even after listening to her explanation, you have reservations about the application. Tell the A/CLA. Use the recommendation form and a letter or note attached to it. Be specific: identify and describe your reasons for not supporting the application or the item(s)--information, approach, skills--that you believe need specific focus for the mother to be ready to be a Leader. If your objections relate to the Prerequisites to Applying for Leadership, we will consider them immediately. Even though we would rather work through these questions when we're still exploring possibilities, before a formal application is submitted, we can address them at any time. If your concerns relate to requirements for accreditation or an individual's ability to carry out one or another responsibility of LLL leadership, we will address them as part of the application. We might ask you to talk with the Leader and/or Applicant, or we might ask for your suggestions as we work with them.

When we talk about our observations and express our concerns, we help to clarify issues. Sometimes agreeing or disagreeing with an application derives from personal preference. But we have an obligation, as representatives of LLLI, to assess an individual's suitability for leadership in terms of the organization's prerequisites and requirements. Whether they relate to a decision to invest time in helping a mother through a breastfeeding problem or to our support for an application for leadership, we need to put our preferences, assumptions, and expectations in the open where they can be examined. Talking or writing about your concerns can help you to decide whether they're personal or professional. Personal considerations might confine you to a working relationship (rather than a friendship connection) with another Leader. It can be a relief to realize that. And when you express professional concerns, you are taking an active interest in potential Leaders, fulfilling one of your primary LLL Leader responsibilities.

There are many ways to help another person achieve her goals. An individual who is thinking about or working toward La Leche League leadership deserves to know what is expected and how this relates to her past experience or current endeavors. If she does not have the prerequisites to applying for accreditation as an LLL Leader, our best service to her is to identify other roles. If she has the prerequisites but there are other hindrances to her accreditation (for instance, if she needs to develop an information base, communication or organization skills, or approaches and attitudes conducive of mother-to-mother help), she deserves to know about them and that she can count on the assistance of Leaders and their resources, and the A/CLA, to help her to overcome them. Our shared goal is to accredit Leaders who have the experience, knowledge, and skills they will need to do their job with confidence and pleasure. Whether an application is in the discussion stage or has been going on for a while, if you have apprehensions, voice them.

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