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Shaping the Future of LLL: Helping Mothers Become Leaders

Amy Shaw
Cranberry PA USA
Monique Kitts
Ringgold GA USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 41 No. 1, February-March 2005, p. 10.

Every LLL Leader has an incredible opportunity to shape the future of La Leche League by helping mothers become Leaders. New Leaders provide a continued flow of energy, enthusiasm, and passion to the organization—locally and internationally. Helping mothers become Leaders also ensures that LLL information and philosophy will be around for our children and their children to benefit from in the future.

Leaders are living examples of LLL philosophy. We represent LLL to each mother who chooses to explore, apply, and prepare to be a Leader. We share the joys of leadership with mothers, and we recommend mothers who meet the LLLI prerequisites to apply for leadership so that they will represent LLL of the future. These Leaders will then go on to shape the future of LLL by helping other mothers become Leaders.

One of the basic responsibilities of being a Leader, as stated in the LEADER'S HANDBOOK, is, "Helping other mothers find out about leadership and prepare to become LLL Leaders." How can you take an active role in promoting leadership within your community and local Group? What are some of the ways in which you can you help a mother as she prepares for leadership?

Consider each mother who attends a Series Meeting a prospective candidate for leadership. By observing the mother with her child or children, listening to what she says, seeing how she reaches out to the other mothers in the Group, and providing her with resources to expand her knowledge, you open the door to the possibility of leadership. Getting to know the mothers who attend the Group meetings helps you see how LLL philosophy is becoming a natural part of their lives. When you openly discuss what we, as an organization, believe, you may help a mother articulate many of the things she feels in her heart.

Encourage a prospective Leader Applicant to read THE WOMANLY ART OF BREASTFEEDINGand together talk about the inspiration, information, and sense of identity in this resource. Provide the mother with copies of Leaven and your local Area Leaders’ Letter to look through to help her see LLL beyond the local Group. Bring her along to Chapter Meetings, Area Conferences, or workshops as appropriate. Show her the LEADER'S HANDBOOK and other publications so she is well informed of the primary resources available to Leaders. Take time together to discuss the joys and responsibilities of LLL leadership as well as each of the ten concepts.

The LLLI Board of Directors has established prerequisites to applying for LLL leadership and criteria for Leader accreditation (Policies and Standing Rules, Appendix 18). Share them openly with any mother interested in finding out more about La Leche League. The prerequisites are a great springboard for discussion about the experience and qualities necessary for a representative of the organization. Do you see a match between the experiences a mother brings to leadership and the prerequisites? Do you see LLL philosophy represented in her words and the choices she makes for herself and her family? Talk about the ways you see leadership fitting with her personal goals and philosophy. Make the commitment to work with her, to be a mentor, to be a resource, and to invest in the future of your local Group and La Leche League. The support, encouragement, and enrichment you provide help to accredit confident, capable, and committed new Leaders.

Your role in Leader accreditation is a pivotal one. You see a mother in action with her children and within the local LLL community. You have a unique perspective as to how others receive her. You are able to identify the areas to help round out a mother’s experience and to provide her with the knowledge and skills to help other mothers. By coordinating your efforts with those of a Leader Accreditation Department (LAD) representative, you provide a mother with every opportunity to become a successful Leader. Exploration of LLL philosophy, resources, and responsibilities of leadership, as well as a commitment of your time and energy to work in partnership, are the greatest gifts you can give a mother. They will help to shape the future of LLL.

Receiving mother-to-mother support at Series Meetings and during helping calls can give mothers an opportunity to see exactly what a Leader does. They may imagine themselves helping other mothers this way, too. During Series Meetings, mothers may try on the leadership role when taking an active part in the meeting. Observe these mothers in action with their children and how they relate to other mothers in the Group. Keep an open mind and an attentive eye. Your next co-Leader may be sitting right next to you.

Amy Shaw has been a Leader since 1982 and is currently serving as Associate Director for Regional Administrators of Leader Accreditation for the Eastern United States Division. She and her husband live in Cranberry, Pennsylvania, USA, and have three sons ages 25, 23, and 20. Monique Kitts has been a Leader for eight years, previously served as Regional Administrator of Leader Accreditation for the Southern Region, EUS, and is currently the Associate Coordinator of Leader Accreditation (ACLA) for LLL of Georgia, USA. She lives in Ringgold, Georgia, USA, with her husband, Aaron, and three children; Molly and fraternal twins Andrew and Logan. Article submissions or ideas for "Preparing for Leadership" may be sent to Monique Kitts at 3777 Cherokee Valley Road, Ringgold, Georgia, 30736, USA; moniquek at fastemailer dot com (email); or faxed to 253-645-2230.

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