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Journey To LLL Leadership::
Moving Through The Application

Julia Keeling
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 38 No. 5, October-November 2002 pp. 104-105.

You are sponsoring a Leader Applicant. Congratulations! You and the Applicant have begun a journey toward LLL leadership for the Applicant and co-leadership for you and the Group.

But wait, what is happening? Nothing? Is the Applicant too busy and not making time to read, work on the Breastfeeding Resource Guide (BRG), attend meetings, and write to her Associate/Coordinator of Leader Accreditation (A/CLA)? Are you too busy and not making time to make and keep regular appointments with the Applicant to go over the checklist items, practice telephone helping, and answer her questions and concerns about leadership?

Why do applications slow down? How do you regain lost momentum?

Commitment

The Applicant can review these questions from her personal history: "What inspired you to become a Leader?" "What do you hope to accomplish as a Leader?" Remind yourself what inspired you to invite this special woman to begin an application. Why do you hope to work with her as a co-Leader? Answers to these key questions can inspire both of you to put ideas into actions and move forward to accreditation. What does leadership and the organization mean to you and the Applicant? Commitment means giving time as well as interest and passion. It means implementing plans and turning dreams into reality.

Connection

There are two relationships each of you will forge during an application—one with each other, the other with your A/CLA. Effective rapport involves communication among and between you, the Applicant, and the LAD representative. An important part of leadership and thus of preparation for this role is to keep lines of communication open. If an application gets stuck, one or both of these relationships may need attention.

Are you concerned about putting too much pressure on the Applicant by setting meeting dates or asking her how her writing is progressing? If you say nothing, will she think you have lost interest in her preparation? Let her know you are interested. Ask her what she needs from you to keep her motivated. When and how often would she like to meet? Has she a problem or block with what she perceives you are expecting of her? Talk with her about your common goal to help mothers breastfeed as co-Leaders. Encourage her to express her ideas during your discussion sessions. Could the Applicant be worried that she has to be "like you" to be a Leader? If so, discuss the value of diversity among LLL Leaders. Is she concerned about retrieving answers to mothers’ questions "on the spot"? Let her know that LLL provides Leaders with the resources—both written and people—to give mothers up-to-date, accurate breastfeeding help. The application forms part of her orientation to that learning.

Is the Applicant challenged by the written requirements of an application? Would she like regular reminders to write or help in getting started? Could you offer to spend time with her toddler while she writes? Let her know that letters can be sent in point form (lists, an outline, or note format rather than complete sentences), typed or hand-written, by surface or possibly electronic mail, and that the letters don’t need to be of professional caliber.

Sometimes the Applicant’s problem is with her A/CLA. Was there a comment or a request in a letter that halted the Applicant? Encourage her to let the A/CLA know how she is feeling and to explore with the A/CLA what is troubling her. It may be that what the A/CLA wrote touched a nerve for the Applicant and, as a result, she feels judged. Developing and maintaining rapport—whether it’s with the A/CLA now or co-Leaders later—often involves expressing feelings and checking with the other person about what she intended to say.

You can develop good rapport with the A/CLA by communicating with her about what you and the Applicant have been discussing. Contact your LAD representative any time with questions, comments, or concerns you have about the Applicant’s preparation for leadership.

Task Management

Task and time management are about setting priorities. Does the Applicant attend meetings regularly and is she reading? Encourage her to put some of her time and energy into writing as well. Is writing difficult? Do meetings get put off? It may be time to re-order your activities so that what is important to the Applicant (and to you) rises to the top of your "to do" list.

Many Leader Applicants are absorbed by mothering a baby and/or a toddler; uninterrupted hours to work on an application may never become available. But an Applicant can accomplish her writing and reading in small chunks. Suggest to her that she jot down thoughts as they occur. This can mean keeping paper and pen in the kitchen, by a nursing chair, beside the bed, in the car, or her purse or backpack. If the Applicant’s toddler likes to write every time mother does, the Applicant can keep extra blank sheets handy for her toddler. Some Applicants who use a computer like to keep an (old) extra keyboard and mouse nearby for the toddler to "type" too. An Applicant can also capitalize on times her spouse is available to entertain the children while she works on her preparation.

Are you or the Applicant too busy? Perhaps it is time to let some activities drop out of your life. Has a temporary challenge, change, or crisis developed for the Applicant? It may be appropriate to take a short formal break (up to three months) from application work (please let your A/CLA know). Have the Applicant’s priorities changed? She may not want to become a Leader after all but thinks she will be letting you or LLL down by stopping. Encourage her to be honest about her feelings. If leadership preparation is not important any longer, discontinuing her application removes pressure from everyone involved.

Momentum

Do you or the Applicant need a push? Encourage the Applicant to set time lines for sending her letters to the A/CLA (or ask the A/CLA to suggest them). With the Applicant, set several dates right away, to meet over the coming months—and stick to them. Suggest the Applicant put aside time segments in which she will read a pamphlet, part of a book, or an article in a Leader publication. Make a decision to write to update your A/CLA at times that work for you, for instance each week; monthly when you send your meeting report; or on the 1st and 15th of each month. The Applicant can set goals such as these for herself too.

Keeping an application moving requires commitment, effective communication, time management, and momentum. Your A/CLA has a wealth of tips and resources to help and inspire you and the Applicant to achieve your goals. When you work with a Leader Applicant who reaches accreditation, you invest important time in LLL’s future.

Julia Keeling was accredited in 1982 and led Series Meetings with LLL Canada for 10 years. In 1985 she began working in the LAD. Presently she is the Administrator of Leader Accreditation (ALA) for LLL Canada. Julia and her husband, David, live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and have four children. This article first appeared in LLL Canada’s Leader newsletter, Canadian Collage February 2002 issue. Send articles for "Preparing for Leadership" to Contributing Editor, Deb Roberts at: 86 Castle Ridge Court, Chanhassen, Minnesota, USA, or robertsd at tcfreenet.org (email).

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