Thinking About LLL Leadership?
We hope the following frequently asked questions will answer some of your own and aid your understanding of what LLL leadership involves. If you have any other questions, please talk to your supporting Leader.
Leaders represent La Leche League, so it is important to know what the organization believes and does.
The purpose of LLL is:
- to help mothers learn to breastfeed their babies,
- to encourage mothering through breastfeeding, and
- to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding and related subjects.
LLL is an international, educational, non-sectarian, non-discriminatory service organization with a strict policy of not mixing causes. We have that policy in order to offer help to people with a variety of personal beliefs.
Leaders know the importance of mother-to-mother and peer-to-peer support to help others discover the joy and satisfaction of breastfeeding. Leaders pass on what they have learned about this simple act of breastfeeding, so that mothers and parents can make decisions which are best for their families.
These are the basic responsibilities of a La Leche League Leader:
- Helps one-to-one by telephone, text, email, social media or in person
- Plans and leads Series Meetings
- Supervises the management of an LLL Group
- Keeps up-to-date on breastfeeding information
- Helps others find out about leadership and prepare to become LLL Leaders
Leaders can choose the work which suits them best! Teamwork, identifying priorities and being realistic will help you to enjoy being an LLL Leader.
Definition of an Active Leader
“An active Leader pursues the La Leche League mission through basic Leader responsibilities as defined in the Policies and Standing Rules Notebook and/or other service to LLL. An active Leader’s fees are current, she keeps up to date with Leader education, and she communicates regularly with the organization.”
Leader responsibilities are shared when there is more than one Leader in a Group. Many Leaders find it beneficial to concentrate on the basic responsibilities for a period of time before considering expanding or changing their service to LLL. Leaders often find other or additional ways to serve the organisation as an active Leader. Here are some possibilities:
- Offer prenatal breastfeeding classes
- Raise funds for the Group
- Talk to school students studying child development
- Meet with teenage mothers
- Attend networking meetings for breastfeeding support organizations and health professionals to plan joint projects and events
- Write articles for LLL publications
- Help plan and organize LLL workshops, study days and conferences
- Lead a session at a workshop or Leader Day
- Do research or administrative work for LLL
- Work on translation of LLL resources
Most of an LLL Leader’s work is voluntary; you can claim expenses from your Group. If you give a talk or offer breastfeeding classes, or do work for LLL in which you have special expertise, such as translations or legal work, you may be able to receive payment and still be covered by LLLI liability insurance.
As this question suggests, there is the deep satisfaction gained from knowing that you are helping mothers and babies experience the benefits and the joy of breastfeeding.
Many Leaders would add that there are huge benefits in terms of:
- Friendship with other Leaders and their families;
- Access to LLLI as well as Area resources which are available to Leaders, such as Leader Today and Area Leaders’ Letter, the Leader pages of the LLLI website, and online Leader chats;
- Attending LLL workshops, conferences and/or webinars as a Leader (usually at reduced prices for Leaders);
- Developing skills and interests at the local or international level;
- The continued opportunity to learn about breastfeeding and parenting with others who share LLL philosophy;
- The positive effect of learning on family life;
- Developing transferable skills that can be of immeasurable use within the family or when applied to other work.
It is a balancing act! Just as you wondered how you would cope with a baby, and then perhaps a second baby and toddler, you discover how to juggle many different things in your life. If LLL is important to you, it can become one of those balls in the air.
You may already be sharing in the work of your local Group. Perhaps you have a Group job, such as Librarian or Treasurer. Maybe you have hosted meetings or provided refreshments. Your involvement will help to give you an insight into this aspect of leadership responsibilities.
There are many aspects of LLL work: planning meetings, answering queries, getting together with your co-Leaders to plan for and make decisions related to your LLL Group, attending workshops and conferences, etc. We hope you will find that these activities enrich your life, providing a wonderful network of friends and support for your breastfeeding and parenting choices, both now and as your children grow older.
During your application you will be working with a representative of the Leader Accreditation Department (LAD), as well as your supporting Leader, who is usually the Leader who wrote a recommendation for you.
With the LAD representative, you will:
- Correspond about LLL philosophy and Leader responsibilities.
- Explore your understanding of LLL philosophy.
With your supporting Leader, you will
- Discuss aspects of Leader work and practice responding to helping questions.
- Learn about LLL as an organization and about leading meetings and fulfilling other Leader responsibilities.
On your own, you will
- Become familiar with breastfeeding topics and learn about resources available to parents and Leaders.
- Read required books and other publications.
- Attend LLL events, where available.
Yes, it is possible to apply and work as an isolated Applicant.
- There may be an LLL Group near you that you are unaware of. Find your nearest Group by contacting a local LLL Leader.
- If your nearest Group is too far away for you to attend meetings regularly, perhaps you can arrange to borrow books from the Group Library, or attend a few meetings so that you become familiar with how LLL meetings are organized.
- Perhaps a Group in your city or country is holding virtual meetings that you could attend.
- If there is no Group where you are, you can contact the LLLI Leader Accreditation Department. A Director will refer you to a LAD representative who can help you.
An isolated Applicant is someone who does not have a local Leader or LLL Group within a reasonable distance. The person may have attended LLL Series Meetings when living somewhere else or may only know about LLL from reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, looking at an LLL website and/or talking with other mothers or parents.
If there is no local Leader or LLL Group where you live, contact the LLLI Leader Accreditation Department or look on the LLL website for your country to find a Leader Accreditation Department (LAD) contact.
A LAD representative, usually the Coordinator of Leader Accreditation (CLA) for the LLL Area, will respond to your interest in becoming a Leader and initiate a pre-application discussion to see if you meet the LLLI Prerequisites to Applying for LLL Leadership. With this person you will also discuss LLL philosophy, the work of a Leader, application requirements and the cost of applying. This discussion may take place via phone, online video calls, or in writing.
If, after having a thorough pre-application discussion, you and the LAD representative both agree to proceed with your application, the LAD representative will write a recommendation for you and initiate your application. Sometimes this person will also fulfill the role of supporting Leader. Often the LAD representative will recruit another Leader to be your supporting Leader during the application period.
Some Groups find that having another co-Leader is a help when Leaders have another baby or move to a new house, which can make it difficult for them to do everything they would like to do.
Other Groups find they can maximize their impact by holding meetings in different locations, especially if they live in a big city or cover a large rural area.
A Group can split and become two separate Groups in order to reach more mothers.
Having several Leaders can sometimes offer more opportunities for reaching mothers and parents in the wider community. In other words, they can then go beyond the basic responsibilities of a Leader. For instance:
- Some Groups with several Leaders decide to offer evening as well as daytime Series Meetings.
- Other meetings, such as Toddler Meetings, are sometimes more viable when there is more than one Leader to run them.
- The Leaders can take it in turns to attend meetings with healthcare professionals or share responsibility for running prenatal breastfeeding classes at the local hospital.
Each Group of co-Leaders can work out what will suit everyone best and meet the needs of the local community.
It can be different for each individual, depending on factors such as your organizational skills, the number and ages of your children, other commitments, and time available.
Many applications are completed within six months to a year. You are welcome to proceed at the pace that enables you to prepare yourself of leadership actively and effectively.
Volunteer Leaders represent La Leche League (LLL). Central to our organization is our philosophy. Leaders demonstrate LLL philosophy in action.
Before applying you will need to meet the La Leche League International (LLLI) Prerequisites to Applying for Leadership. These include prerequisites about your personal breastfeeding experience, your experience with the organization and your personal skills related to communication. You may decide you meet all the prerequisites, or there may be one or more which you feel you do not meet. Talking with a Group Leader or member of the Leader Accreditation Department will help you explore whether you meet the prerequisites and the extent to which your experience and ideas are a ‘good match’ with LLL philosophy. This pre-application discussion will help you and the Group Leader or LAD representative decide whether to proceed with your application.
If you do not meet the prerequisites, there are other ways you can help breastfeeding mothers and stay involved in LLL (see other FAQs).
You may have to pay a LLL membership fee and/or application fee. There may also be a fee for application materials. These fees vary according to where you live.
A requirement of application work is to be familiar with the current edition of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, if available in an accessible language and format. This resource is central to Leader work and answers many of the questions often asked by mothers and parents about breastfeeding. You may want to have your own copy of this resource.
Most resources needed for Leader work are available online.
At the end of an application there may be an accreditation fee, which covers the administrative costs involved with accreditation.
So to summarize, the cost of becoming an LLL Leader may include:
- Membership fee
- Application fee
- Application materials
- Purchase of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
- Accreditation fee
Once a Leader is accredited, there are annual Leader dues, which include LLL membership and Leader liability insurance with LLLI. The payment system can vary, depending on your location. Please check with your local LLL.
During your application you complete some requirements with a representative of the Leader Accreditation Department (LAD); others with your supporting Leader; and others on your own. Here are some of the things you can expect to do during the application period:
- Discuss with the LAD representative your personal experience of breastfeeding and mothering.
- Explore your understanding of and experience with LLL philosophy through ongoing dialogue with the LAD representative.
- Learn how to support the normal course of breastfeeding and help mothers and parents cope with common concerns.
- Learn how to access relevant resources to support mothers facing specific breastfeeding challenges.
- Read books and other publications about breastfeeding management, childbirth and Leader work.
- Practise active listening and counselling skills with your supporting Leader.
- Learn about La Leche League as an organisation at local, national and international levels.
- Learn about leading LLL Series Meetings and about fulfilling other Leader responsibilities.
- If possible, attend LLL workshops (including those run by LLL Communication Skills Facilitators) and Leader/study days which are open to Leaders and Leader Applicants.
The application aims to help you prepare to meet the LLLI Criteria for Leader Accreditation. For more information, see Steps to Accreditation.
You will not need to attend a class or take a test to be accredited as an LLL Leader.
You will need to complete application requirements which consist of reading, writing, discussion and self-study. These requirements include:
- Personal History of Breastfeeding and Mothering: Writing about your experience with the ten concepts that describe LLL philosophy and dialoguing about this philosophy with a member of the Leader Accreditation Department.
- Breastfeeding Resources Guide: Learning about breastfeeding management by completing this self-study exercise.
- Checklist of Topics to Discuss in Preparation for Leadership: Learning leadership skills by discussing the topics on this checklist with a supporting Leader.
- Background reading and learning: Reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and Leader’s Handbook. Learning about childbirth options and their effect on the initiation of breastfeeding.
- Preview of Helping Questions and Group Management: Discussing situations that might arise at an LLL meeting and practicing responding to helping questions with a supporting Leader.
To find out more about these requirements, see Steps to Accreditation.
During the application period, the Applicant, supporting Leader and LAD representative work together until all feel confident that the Applicant has met the LLLI Criteria for Accreditation and is well prepared for leadership.
All Applicants need to complete the LLLI Criteria for Leader Accreditation. Applicants who are members of an LLL Group meet regularly, usually in person, with their supporting Leader and continue to learn about Leader work by attending Series Meetings and helping the Group Leaders prepare for these meetings.
As an isolated Applicant:
- You will be bringing LLL to your community, or restarting an LLL Group that closed months or years ago.
- You will likely be supported by a Leader whom you have only met long-distance.
- You will be communicating primarily in writing, by phone or via online video with the supporting Leader and LAD representative.
- You will need to learn about LLL Series Meetings, if you haven’t previously attended any.
Tips for isolated Applicants:
- Be very familiar with the Leader’s Handbook. It can become your “best friend” in helping you prepare to fulfill leadership responsibilities.
- Find ways to learn about Series Meetings.
- When visiting friends or family, check to see if an LLL Group exists there, and if a meeting is scheduled during your visit.
- Find a Group in you entity and ask the Group Leader if you can attend the meeting via online video.
- Some Groups hold virtual meetings. Consider attending.
- Discuss with your supporting Leader how an LLL meeting is different from a breastfeeding class.
- In some Areas, Applicants can participate in online groups which include Leaders and Applicants. Your Area newsletter may provide information about this, or you can ask your LAD representative.
- Some Areas offer online Leader Applicant groups, working together with the same LAD representatives on particular aspects of leadership preparation. Find out more from your LAD representative.
- Attend LLL workshops, study days, conferences and webinars, whenever possible.
- Make use of online resources on this website or other LLL websites.
- Prior to accreditation, learn what you will need to do to start, or re-open, an LLL Group in your community.
An accredited La Leche League Leader has:
- Met the LLLI Prerequisites to Applying for Leadership.
- Demonstrated understanding and practice of LLLI philosophy.
- Completed all steps of the LLL Leader application work as described in Breastfeeding Management Skills and Leadership Skills described in the LLLI policy Applying for Leadership.
- Signed the LLLI Leader Statement of Commitment.
La Leche League carries general liability and professional services insurance for all volunteer Leaders. A Leader pays annual Leader dues in order to be covered by this insurance. Some LLL entities may have different arrangements regarding payment.
There is a great deal you can do to support your local Group. Perhaps you could take on a Group job, such as Librarian or Treasurer, or offer to help with publicity or fundraising. Your Group Leader may be able to suggest ways in which your support would be especially helpful.
Ask your Group Leader about Evaluation Meetings. Taking part in these meetings is an excellent way to stay involved in your Group and gain an insight into the role of an LLL Leader.
You can attend workshops which are open to those interested in leadership as well as Leaders and Applicants.
Read as many books and LLL publications as you can about breastfeeding and parenting. Ask your Group Leader to recommend publications, which may be available from your Group Library or local public library. This can be very worthwhile preparation before applying for LLL leadership at a later time.
Talk to your Group Leader who will be happy to discuss any questions you might have.
Might there come a time when you would meet the LLLI Prerequisites to Applying for Leadership? Perhaps you could delay making your application until a later date.
LLL recognises that mothers in your position have a great deal to offer others who are breastfeeding. LLL Groups are organized on the basis of mother-to-mother and peer-to-peer support. We hope you will stay involved in your local LLL Group and know that we value the contribution you make.
You can still be a tremendous support by being active in your LLL Group perhaps by:
- Taking on a Group job, such as Librarian or Treasurer.
- Attending LLL Series Meetings and sharing your experience with other attendees.
- Offering to host a Series Meeting or other meetings.
- Helping to publicizing your Group or distributing meeting notices to clinics and surgeries.
- Helping to raise funds for your Group could help provide more leaflets, information sheets and books for your Group Library.
Perhaps you are interested in becoming a paid lactation consultant and setting up a private practice, or being employed by a hospital, a physician, or other healthcare provider. Many of these consultants are International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC). They are certified through the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE).
For information about becoming certified as an IBCLC, please visit the The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners website.
You may find that you are drawn to breastfeeding counseling, but LLL leadership is not the way to reach your goal. LLL recognizes and values your desire to help all who are breastfeeding. Training with another breastfeeding support organization might best enable you to become a breastfeeding counselor. Many breastfeeding counselors affiliated with other organizations remain members of their local LLL Group and work cooperatively with LLL Leaders at both a local and national level.
It is important that you talk to your Group Leader before making an application. You might want to write down your questions while they are fresh in your mind, and then contact your Group Leader in order to arrange a pre-application meeting.