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Working with the Draft Principles

Susan Penrod
Ft. Wayne IN USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 40 No. 2, April-May 2004, pp. 30-31.

Editor’s Note: The Renewal Initiative draft principles are currently being explored and applied by the LLLI Board of Directors as well as a number of Leaders and support Leaders. The September 29, 2003 edition of LLLINews highlighted, “Questions and Answers about the LLLI Renewal, October 2003” and offered the following clarification. “The Board has agreed to use the core meanings of the Renewal Initiative draft principle set—leaving open the possibility that some word choices might be improved in the future. You might want to consider doing that too.” It was also stated, “There is nothing that requires you to accept the full principles as written.”
The following article offers an example of how the ideas behind the draft principles might be used and applied when working with and supporting a Leader Applicant. If you choose to use the draft principles when helping a mother to become an LLL Leader, please consider sharing your ideas with the Leader Accreditation Department representative in your Area or Affiliate so that others might benefit from your experiences.


There are many ways in which the proposed principles apply to the work of Leader Applicants, Leaders, and Leader Accreditation Department representatives. You may see where you are already using some and where you might incorporate others. The ideas below are examples; you will probably think of many more.
Note, too, that although it can be enlightening to explore each principle individually, they are designed to be used as a set, in balance with each other.


Participants honor each other’s right and responsibility to:

Determine their own identity and needs, and follow their own judgment and instincts. Help the Leader Applicant customize her application to her needs and experience, suggest a variety of ways to learn, different ways to complete a requirement, and provide a variety of resources and exercises for the Applicant to choose from.

Protect what belongs to them, what is important to them, and their privacy. All application correspondence is confidential in order to help you and the Applicant feel comfortable to reveal experiences, thoughts, and feelings related to the goals of the application.

Inform their choices considering scientific knowledge, experience, and intuition. Offer information and suggest resources the Applicant can use to inform herself. Support her decision-making in regard to her learning and her future goals as a Leader.

Voluntarily connect with others to pursue their goals. Encourage the Applicant to participate in workshops, Chapter Meetings, Conferences, Evaluation Meetings, and other LLL gatherings that will help her further her goal of leadership preparation.

Create new parts of the system. Invite the Applicant to explore how she wishes to pursue LLL’s purpose in relation to the definition of an active Leader. An active LLL 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 (March 2001). This current definition of an active Leader offers her more options than in the past.

Participants, when working with others:

Make room for family. Suggest creative ways the Leader Applicant can make room for her family while also fulfilling her responsibilities.

Honor obligations. Help the Applicant see the importance of reporting and deadlines by explaining their purposes and checking, when appropriate, to see if she agrees.

Educe, not compel. Give the Applicant space to learn at her own pace. During pre-application discussion, explain LLL’s purpose, goals, and the benefits of leadership, check for understanding and agreement, and dialogue about any differences.

Are open to and look for opportunities for generosity and joy. Display a volunteer spirit, freely giving of yourself and your time and resources. Offer appropriate affirmation, and encourage the Applicant’s good ideas.

Work through and resolve conflict without threats, coercion, or intimidation. If there is conflict, try to facilitate respectful responses (e.g., offer information, help people clarify issues, suggest respectful approaches).

Freely and fully exchange information. Share resources, knowledge, and experience (as appropriate) freely with the Applicant.

Are explicit about values. Clearly communicate about LLL’s breastfeeding/parenting philosophy and philosophy of helping, LLL’s expectations for Leaders, and the necessary personal traits for a Leader.

Are mutually affirming, supporting, and accountable. Help the Applicant see that she is an important part of LLL and that we value the time and energy she is giving. Be prompt and keep to deadlines.

Deliberate and make decisions in ways that reasonably represent those affected without any one dominating. Include Applicant, LAD representative, and co-Leaders in decisions that will affect them; involve them in problem-solving.

Entrust only sufficient authority and power as necessary to accomplish common work. Establish a partnership relationship with both the Applicant and LAD representative, with each of you contributing toward a common goal of helping the Applicant learn what she needs to know and be able to do to represent LLL.

Participants work as a system to:

Remain open and welcoming to new participants and parts. Recognize that there are many examples of LLL philosophy and many ways to serve the organization, and encourage interested mothers who meet the prerequisites and are willing and able to follow the other policies.

Ensure diversity and health. Be sure to talk about fiscal responsibility for the Group and the importance of communication and reporting. Consider the potential sources and effects of bias and plan for how to deal with it. Discuss projecting a positive image.

Create conditions that foster learning, development, and growth. Discuss the importance of ongoing learning. Invite the Leader Applicant’s ideas for how she would like to learn, and offer resources and learning opportunities that might appeal to her.

Keep or shift power, authority, and resources to the smallest or most local part that includes those affected. Provide information about co-Leader relationships and the attitudes and approaches that underlie a respectful, effective working relationship.

Create no built-in advantage or disadvantage for any part or participant. Welcome your new co-Leader as an equal.

Remain coherent and disciplined as a whole. Clarify LLL’s mission and how Leaders fulfill it; help the Applicant understand the importance of each Leader’s responsibility.

Protect, not undermine, breastfeeding, mothering and family. Through words and work that reflect our attitude and approach, convey to the Applicant the value we place on breastfeeding, mothering, and family.

Susan Penrod leads with the busy Fort Wayne, Indiana Group and is CLA for Indiana, USA. Susan has attended LLL meetings while living in Maryland, Wisconsin, Arkansas, and Indiana, and now lives in Fort Wayne with her husband and two sons, ages 11 and 5. This article was adapted from an International Mastery Symposium handout by Eileen Harrison and Esmé Nel.

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