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What Do I Say?

Karin Gausman, RALA USWD
Billings, Montana, USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 36 No. 5, October-November 2000, pp. 97-98.

You've probably heard this before - the Leader's continued input to the Leader Accreditation Department (LAD) is important to an application. But what does that mean? What does the LAD want to know? Why is your input important? Read on!

Why do we need information from you? Because the three of us, Leader, LAD, and Applicant, are working together to design and implement an individualized plan to help the Applicant prepare for LLL leadership and to assess the Applicant's readiness for accreditation. Each of us does both of these things; each of us needs adequate information to do both effectively.

Perhaps you can't think of anything to write to the Associate/Coordinator of Leader Accreditation (A/CLA). Actually, you begin your communication by filling out a current Leader Recommendation form (June 1999). The kind of detail you provide when you answer the questions on the form describing "what and how" is an example of helpful communication with the A/CLA throughout the application.

A very important part of leadership preparation happens during Series and Evaluation Meetings. Your observations can be a guide to what needs and doesn't need to be emphasized, you can suggest resources the A/CLA might have, and can bring up important topics that might not otherwise be discussed. Following are some examples of helpful information and how it could benefit all application partners:

"I'm really excited by the way (Applicant) helps at meetings! I know I can count on her to show examples of how LLLI philosophy has worked in her life. She's moved from needing information to helping other mothers. It's great to see the way she makes an effort to help mothers feel comfortable, and to include them."

"(Applicant) has taken over the job of publicity, including meeting flyers and newspaper announcements. What a difference that has made to our Group! In addition to meeting flyers and newspaper announcements, she's also looking into making a Group web site."

Since we each assess the Applicant's readiness for accreditation, we need to know that she understands how to help mothers and how to contribute to an effective meeting and that she's learning about what happens behind the scenes at meetings and is gaining some skills that will help her manage the Group. The A/CLA can tell you when the Applicant's writing confirms what you are seeing. With your input, the LAD representative knows that the Applicant is learning what she needs. Perhaps you mentioned in your recommendation that the Applicant needed to develop her skills in a certain area. The A/CLA might have suggested ways to do this. Let the A/CLA know as you see the Applicant acquiring those skills:

"Earlier I said that I was concerned about (Applicant's) comments at the meeting, when she promoted her own religious beliefs. Thanks for sending the article. We used it to talk about the reasons why Leaders don't mix causes, and I've seen how (Applicant) has changed what she says at meetings to reflect her new understanding."

Your report lets the A/CLA know that your concern has been resolved and that the Applicant's behavior at meetings reflects her new understanding. Writing about this might remind you to comment to the Applicant about it too, if you haven't already.

Another important aspect of preparation happens when you meet with the Applicant outside the Series Meeting. What are you and the Applicant doing to increase the knowledge and skills she will need for leadership? How can the A/CLA reinforce or add to what you are doing? Here are some examples of the kinds of things you might write to the A/CLA:

"We have been meeting twice a month, to talk about sections of the handbook checklist. Last time, we discussed "Planning/Evaluation Meetings." (Applicant) took responsibility for promoting an enrichment topic about children's dental health. (Applicant) did a great job organizing her materials and after a little initial nervousness, opened up well to the group."

"We made arrangements to visit another Group meeting, where we did the listening exercise together. Afterwards, we talked about why the Leader did what she did. We also discussed the different style that Leader had (from me), and how Leaders do not all lead in exactly the same way. We talked about ways to organize materials, and I showed (Applicant) how I keep everything straight."

The A/CLA can reinforce and, from her experience and resources, add to the information you've given the Applicant. For instance, the A/CLA might add tips about organization, knowing that such information would be relevant to what the Applicant is thinking about now.

When the A/CLA hasn't heard from either one of you, she may wonder why. A short note can keep her informed:

"Just wanted to let you know that (Applicant) has been very sick with the flu, and we haven't been able to get together. When she feels better, you'll be hearing from me again."

The A/CLA can be a resource for you, as you help an Applicant prepare for leadership. She can help the most when you let her know what you need. Consider these comments:

"My co-Leader and I are very much alike in the personal choices we've made. We manage the Group, organize materials, and lead meetings in similar ways too. We are a remote Group, with no others nearby. How can I help (Applicant) expand her knowledge of what we look for in a Leader, so she will know how to identify potential Leaders?"

"(Applicant) is really nervous about telephone helping. She's afraid she won't know the information she needs to help mothers. Do you have any ideas for ways to help her feel more confident?"

"(Applicant) is feeling a little apprehensive about how she will lead and watch her toddler at the same time. My children are older and aren't with me at meetings. Can you recommend any resources that would help (Applicant)?"

The A/CLA can recommend helpful exercises and useful articles. She may have access to publications not available to you, and thus have more references to choose from. The A/CLA may also be able to offer information and insights that will contribute to the Applicant's expanding knowledge base and developing confidence.

The A/CLA is eager to be a resource for you. She also counts on you, based on your face-to-face relationship, to add another dimension to the picture she has of the Applicant. She looks forward to hearing from you by letter or postcard (whether handwritten, typed, or email). Contact your A/CLA today, and let her know what you and the Applicant have been doing, and how the A/CLA can help.

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