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Who Shares Your Group?

from LEAVEN, Vol. 31 No. 3, May-June 1995, p. 40
by Terrell Graham
Lawrence, Kansas, USA

"When Leaders work together as a team, the Group is strengthened by their cooperation."
THE NEW LEADER'S HANDBOOK, p. 174

At some point in a Group led by co-Leaders, decisions were made about how responsibilities would be shared. Those decisions may have been made before you even attended LLL meetings! Tradition abounds in LLL and it may play a big role in how your Group functions. In addition to tradition, Leader dynamics and division of responsibility determine how a Leader feels about her role in the Group. A sense of teamwork can make leadership pleasurable and enhance a Leader's commitment.

Think about how Group responsibilities are shared by you and your Co- Leader(s):

Has the same system of sharing responsibility been in place since your Group was founded?

How do you feel about your contributions to the Group? Would you like to do more? Less?

How do you feel about the other Leaders' roles and their commitment to the Group?

Is it time for a Leaders' Planning Meeting to re-evaluate the Group's division of work?

It is important to be honest with your co-Leader(s). Let her know if you are uncomfortable with your current LLL workload. Ask her how she is feeling about what she does for the Group. Discussing your feelings honestly and accepting each other's individual "interest and activity levels" helps set the stage for positive and productive planning.

Many Groups have regular Leaders' Meetings where all Leaders discuss the division of work and how they feel about it. These meetings might be annual or held once a Series. Scheduling a Leaders' Meeting to evaluate Group responsibilities can dispel the uncomfortable feeling a Leader might have about suggesting such a meeting to co-Leaders.

If all the Leaders in a Group expect to have a Leaders' Planning Meeting and all approach it with the goal of enhancing the productivity of the Group, the result is shared leading. Shared leading gives responsibility to all Leaders in the Group.

Just as Area Council and Division Staff positions have terms, it may he helpful to determine terms for Leader jobs in the Group. Each Leader knows how long she is responsible for a particular aspect of Group management. At the end of a term the division of work can be re-evaluated. This is a tradition that can promote growth and productivity in a Group.

In some Groups each Leader leads one complete Series including setting up the meeting room, leading the meeting, arranging for and leading the Evaluation/Enrichment Meeting, and writing to the District Advisor. In other Groups one Leader leads the Series Meeting and a co-Leader leads the Evaluation/Enrichment Meeting. Still other Groups divide the work according to each Leader's interests and talents.

Since each Group is different the workload to maintain each is different. The needs of the Group should be balanced with the Leaders' time and energy. Flexibility is essential as well.

THE NEW LEADER'S HANDBOOK (p. 173) tells us that effective sharing of Group responsibilities hinges on several factors:

All Leaders know who is responsible for each job.

All Leaders agree to and follow through on their appointed jobs.

Jobs rotate in an agreed manner among Leaders.

Although we are all accredited with a common understanding of LLL philosophy and goals, some Leaders are surprised how differently we each live our lives. What one Leader may assume of another Leader may simply be that - just an assumption.

A new Leader with very young children may assume that a Leader with children in school all day has more time than she does. While that may be true during school hours, the time from 3 PM until bedtime can be incredibly hectic and stressful.

A Leader with older children may compare her busy life to the slower pace of a Leader with a very young family. She may have forgotten the demands of meeting the needs of young babies and children. In both sets of circumstances the Leader may feel her time and energy is stretched to its limit and that "surely she (the co-Leader) could do more for the Group."

What interests a Leader of ten years experience may be different from that of a newly accredited Leader. To keep Group work stimulating, challenging and fun assess each Leader's strengths, talents and goals as they continually change. Remembering our common goal, helping mothers breastfeed, can bring Leaders of all ages and experiences together. Mutual conviction gives each Leader a feeling of equal responsibility for a Group.

As your next Series Meeting approaches and the opportunity for a Leaders' Meeting arises, suggest that it be a planning meeting for sharing Group work. Perhaps this article can be a springboard for your discussion.

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