Lori Bryan, Lodi, California, USA
Has it been a number of years since your Group’s Leaders worked with an Applicant?
Do you want to help mothers become Leaders yet find it challenging to do so?
Are you wondering, “How can I find someone interested in La Leche League leadership?”
Do you need some ideas to promote interest in leadership?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this article is for you!
The first place to look for a mother interested in leadership is at Series Meetings so it is helpful to have an active Group with a diversity of participants. Try to publicize the Group meetings to attract as many mothers as possible. This can be as simple as asking those who attend to bring a friend to the next meeting or as professional as printing a flyer or meeting notice for doctors’ offices, libraries, women’s centers, and mother and baby group notice boards, to name a few. Then provide a comfortable and welcoming meeting atmosphere so those attending want to return. Do you use a sign-in sheet and ask if attendees can bring refreshments? If someone indicates yes, a reminder call to ask her to bring refreshments is also an invitation to return to the meeting. Does the Group have a lending library? You could point out what books are available and/or recommend specific titles. If an attendee takes a book home to read, she’s likely to attend a future meeting to return the book.
Now look at the possibility that every mother who walks through the door to a meeting has potential for leadership. Listen to how she answers questions and what comments she makes. Is she demonstrating or developing effective communication skills while supporting LLL purpose and philosophy? Watch for the mother who shows sensitivity to her baby’s needs and those of others. Is she tolerant of all kinds of ideas and people while exhibiting warmth and empathy toward others? Do you see her interacting with others in the Group, making them feel at ease, and welcoming them if they are new to the meeting? Does she get along with other attendees and listen to what they are saying? Do you see someone you can talk more with about leadership?
If your country/Area has LLL memberships, encourage attendees to become members. This shows a commitment to LLL. Those who are members often become the “core members” who attend meetings regularly, supporting the cause of breastfeeding, mothering and all LLL stands for. Enrichment Meetings, Couples Meetings, family events/meals, and participating in fundraisers such as a Live, Love, Latch! event, World Walk or similar event in your country, provide additional opportunities for mothers to learn more about and support LLL.
Involve mothers in running the Group by asking them to take responsibility for all non-Leader jobs such as Group librarian, Group treasurer, publicity, fundraising, greeter, refreshment coordinator, hostess for meetings, setting up/child proofing, and cleaning up after meetings. Remember to thank members who attend regularly for sharing their experiences with the new mothers. Appreciating how they contribute to the Group may prompt some to consider doing more—as a Leader.
Interested mothers meetings
Take a look at the mothers who are actively involved in the Group. You might want to hold an Enrichment or Interested Mothers Meeting and talk about leadership with all of them. OR you and your co-Leaders might want to decide which mothers you think meet the prerequisites for leadership and hold the Interested Mothers Meeting via invitation only. Start with the sheet Thinking About LLL Leadership (compact pdf version) llli.org/lad/tall/talll.html, which you can give to each mother before the meeting.
Review Chapter Five in the Leader’s Handbook prior to holding your meeting for ideas of what to cover and share with the mothers. Remember, a mother doesn’t have to be exactly like you or have made the same choices you have. She just needs to meet the prerequisites as listed in Thinking About LLL Leadership.
At the meeting with mothers interested in leadership, you may find it helpful to use Pre-Application Guidelines for Leaders available at: llli.org/docs/lll_leadership/3_pre-app_guidelines_for_l.pdf (LLLID and password required). You’ll want to cover the LLLI prerequisites to applying for leadership, LLL philosophy, the work of a Leader, the application work and the cost of becoming a Leader. For detailed information about the application work, the Overview of Application Work for Leader Accreditation—llli.org/leaderpages/lad/applicationpacket.html (LLLID and password required)—will have helpful information you can use during the meeting.
Leadership is fun
As a Leader you can show that leadership is rewarding and often fun. Remember that enthusiasm and gloom are equally contagious. Share your enjoyment of LLL work and how LLL has helped you as a mother and Leader. Mothers may not be aware that LLL jobs are mother-sized until you tell them. They also might not be aware that having more Leaders in the Group means more resources available in the community for breastfeeding information and support. When a mother realizes this, then, she may be interested in pursuing leadership!
Just think how exciting it will be if one of the mothers says “yes” to pursuing leadership. Her accreditation will help ensure the future of the organization while also making the Group work more manageable for you.