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Lights, Camera, Action!

Karin Gausman
Gillette WY USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 43 No. 1, January-February-March 2007, p.8

A movie actress waits to begin acting until the lights are on and the camera is rolling. Before an application starts, you focus on the Prerequisites to Applying for LLL Leadership and on LLL philosophy and on how the candidate's experiences relate to them. You illuminate the responsibilities of leadership and what is involved in an application. You don't use a camera, but you do send a "picture" of the candidate's experiences, skills, and readiness to apply for leadership by filling out the Leader Recommendation.

Effective preapplication dialogue has many benefits and you will want to talk with the mother about a number of topics. You may be familiar with "In Preparation for an Application: Leader's Guide" (www.lalecheleague.org/leaderpages/LAD/leaderguide.html). Using this guide can help you ensure that you cover important parts of preapplication dialogue before giving the Application Form to an interested mother.

Your conversations might include something like this:

How exciting, Sarah, that you want to help other breastfeeding mothers! Becoming an LLL Leader is certainly one way of doing that. Would you like to hear more about what Leaders do and what is expected of them? That can help you decide if leadership is for you.

These are the basic responsibilities of leadership...when there are several Leaders in a Group, responsibilities may be shared. You've seen me lead meetings, so you're well aware of that responsibility. Did you know that Leaders have to be careful at meetings to keep to the topic of breastfeeding and not mix it with other topics or causes? That is because we don't want mothers to reject our information or philosophy because they perceive it to be linked to something they disagree with.

There are also Leaders who represent LLL in other ways. This is the definition of an active Leader. Sarah, have you thought about what your goals would be as a Leader? How do you see them furthering LLL's mission? (See the LEADER'S HANDBOOK, 2004, page xvii.)

Leaders use all of LLL philosophy in their own lives. This philosophy is broad, and there are many ways to use it. Let's take a look at the 10 concepts that summarize LLL philosophy. Let's talk about how each relates to your own mothering experience, plans, and goals.

LLLI is a global organization, with Groups and/or Leaders in 65 countries. It's important for us all to stay connected and for the organization to know what we all are doing to further its mission. Leaders communicate with the organization in various ways. The Leaders in our Group, for example....

Leaders each pay yearly dues to the organization; the accreditation fee at the completion of an application pays those dues for the first year. Here is a list of the costs during an application and what each covers....We don't want these costs to deter anyone from pursuing leadership, however. Let me know if you'd like information about financial help....

The interested mother needs to know that preparation to become an LLL Leader is comprehensive and requires a commitment of both time and energy. Knowing what will be expected can help the Applicant plan how she will fit the work into her life, so she can approach the application requirements with eagerness. For example, in the Eastern United States Division, an emphasis on thorough pre-application dialogue resulted in more efficient application times (from an average of 17 months, to about 10 months).

You might go on to say:

An application involves comprehensive preparation for leadership. Let me explain each of the required parts, listed on this "Overview of Training Curriculum for Leader Accreditation" [http://lalecheleague.org/LAD/overview.html], and how each relates to the work Leaders do....

Does that sound like a lot of work? Learning how to fit the added work into her other commitments is an important skill for a Leader. The application work provides a way for an Applicant to see if leadership will indeed fit into her life. Does this preparation sound workable to you? If you have doubts about accomplishing any parts of the application, we can brainstorm ways to address that. For example, some of the ways I've found to organize my LLL work so that it meshes with my other responsibilities....

Although you may be sure that a mother will make an excellent Leader and that she meets the Prerequisites to Applying for Leadership, the Coordinator of Leader Accreditation (CLA) also needs to have a clear understanding of both of these before starting the application. How does she learn this when often she has never met the candidate? The CLA is able to do so through your comprehensive Leader Recommendation and by asking any questions she has after reading. Your pre-application discussion can provide the necessary information to help you write a Leader Recommendation that will be useful to the CLA (or her Associate) as she helps the Applicant prepare. In addition, taking the time to have thorough preapplication dialogue demonstrates to the interested mother that you support her in this endeavor. Congratulations -- you can now feel confident that you have fulfilled an important responsibility of leadership! Thank you for setting in motion a ripple that will touch many mothers and babies.

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