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The Series Meeting: Practical Ways the Leader and Applicant Can Work Together

Jeanette Wachtel
Carmel, Indiana, USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 35, No. 4, August-September 1999 p. 80

Congratulations, there's a Leader Applicant in your Group! You're eager to take an active role in helping her prepare for leadership and you want to know more about how you can help. Reading Chapter 5, "Helping Mothers Become Leaders," in the LEADER'S HANDBOOK 1998 edition, is a good place to start. This chapter includes the five basic Leader responsibilities on page 229.

The responsibilities begin with planning and leading the monthly Series Meetings. That's a place you and the Applicant can begin, too. Let's look at some ways you can combine the important responsibilities of leading meetings and helping mothers prepare for LLL leadership.

Applicants Can Attend Planning Meetings

Do you and your co-Leaders meet to discuss Group activities and upcoming events as well as coordinate the Series Meetings? Many Leaders have found that Planning/Evaluation Meetings enhance camaraderie while they help organize Group responsibilities. If you don't have Planning Meetings, now may be a good time to try them. Invite the Leader Applicant to attend and help. She will see how Leaders work together to keep Group work manageable and learn what is involved in planning a Series Meeting.

An Applicant can contribute fresh perspectives and ideas. This participation can reinforce her enthusiasm to work on her application. At these meetings, Leaders and Applicants can enhance their working relationship.

Applicants Can Help Plan Series Meetings

Working with a Leader to plan a Series Meeting has several benefits for a Leader Applicant. When helping plan a meeting, an Applicant will discover that it isn't necessary for Leaders to keep track of everything in their heads or come up with a meeting format on their own. Looking through the meeting guides in the LEADER'S HANDBOOK will help her become familiar with this valuable resource. Helping choose the meeting focus and introduction, as well as the opening and follow-up questions will give her opportunities to explore other available resources for ideas and information. You can talk about tailoring a meeting plan to participants' interests and needs (perhaps making more than one plan), anticipating the kinds of questions and comments that may come up during the discussion, perhaps even creating visuals that can help make information more meaningful.

Working together provides opportunities for the Leader and Applicant to learn from each other while increasing a Leader Applicant's confidence. The Leader Applicant can contribute to discussions about upcoming Series Meetings by offering insights from observations at previous meetings. Together you can develop plans to deal with challenges to Group dynamics, such as handling side conversations or noisy toddlers and children.

Applicants Can Practice Leader skills

When an Applicant helps plan a Series Meeting, she can prepare a few thoughts or pieces of information to share during the discussion if needed. She will also come to understand why the Leader chooses certain topics and begin to help keep the conversation on track. An Applicant can also practice sharing information and options rather than relating personal experiences, an important step in developing effective leadership skills.

The Leader Applicant who is thoroughly familiar with the Group Library can highlight this valuable resource by recommending books relevant to the discussion topic as well as pointing mothers to LLL reading materials after the meeting.

Applicants Can Practice Communication Skills

The Applicant can be aware of mothers' body language and facial expressions and take note of how the Leader responds to them. She can also put her HRE skills to use, helping with challenges at Series Meetings. If side conversations are a concern, the Applicant can seat herself next to the mother and gently direct her conversation back to the discussion or ask if she'd like to share her insights with the whole Group. An Applicant can help offer other points of view if a mother is very vocal about her choices.

There are many aspects involved in leading meetings, and a Leader Applicant may feel more comfortable with some than others. Attending regular Planning Meetings can help her identify the skills necessary for leading effective Series Meetings. Participating in Series Meetings gives her the opportunity to practice those skills. Working together, the Leader and Applicant can design and conduct productive, successful meetings.

Lucky is the Leader who works with an Applicant and lucky is the Applicant who works with a Leader from whom she can learn effective leading methods in a practical setting.

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