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Connecting with Potential Leader Applicants Located in Isolated Areas

Karin Gausman
Calgary Alberta Canada
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 40 No. 5, October-November 2004, p. 108.

Have you ever thought about locations that have no LLL Group or Leader? What might you do to help make LLL available to mothers in isolated locations? An isolated mother who is interested in leadership can participate in pre-application dialogue by postal mail, telephone, or email. She might do this with the Associate/Coordinator of Leader Accreditation (A/CLA), or she can do it with you!

How can you connect with an isolated, interested mother? One place to look is in your own Group. There might be a mother who commutes to attend meetings, or perhaps she only comes occasionally if the distance is great. Based on her comments and what you’ve observed in her relationship with her own child, you see a potential Applicant. You may not have considered approaching her about leadership, however, because her meeting attendance has been sporadic. Attending a series of meetings is a prerequisite if available. That means that an isolated candidate might not have attended a whole series before applying for leadership.

If working with an isolated Applicant sounds intriguing to you and you aren’t aware of any such mother, let the A/CLA know of your interest. She may be able to put you in touch with an isolated candidate who has contacted her.

In order to apply for leadership, a member needs the recommendation of a Leader. This applies to isolated potential Applicants as well as those in a Group. This is where you come in. You can correspond with an isolated candidate using In "Preparation for an Application: Leader’s Guide" (located in the Application Packet or through your LAD representative). In addition to explaining LLL purpose and philosophy along with the prerequisites to applying for leadership, you can talk about what a Leader does and what an application involves. Your goal in this pre-application dialogue is to help her decide if leadership is for her, and if so, to get to know her well enough to write a thorough Leader Recommendation.

Once the application has begun, you can use postal mail, telephone, or email to discuss topics on the checklist in the Leader’s Handbook, to be available for any questions she has about the Breastfeeding Resource Guide, and to help her locate background reading materials (to borrow or purchase). The two of you can also do the "Preview of Mothers’ Questions/Problems and Group Dynamics/Management," even if you’re geographically distant. In addition to the above methods used for checklist discussions, you might consider using a private email chat (such as AOL Instant Messenger) for the Preview. Why not save the letters you write to an isolated candidate/Applicant? You can reread and personalize these for use later with another potential Applicant.

Perhaps you were an isolated Applicant yourself. One Leader says:

Being a sponsoring Leader of another isolated Applicant is like coming full circle. It gives me an opportunity to share with her how I have tried to build and publicize my Group—what has worked, what hasn’t, what I’ve observed. I honestly feel like I can say, "I can imagine how you must be feeling...I remember when...."

Although she wasn’t an isolated Applicant herself, another Leader says:

There is tremendous satisfaction in knowing that you have helped bring LLL to a new location. In addition, the detailed explanations of LLL that are helpful to an isolated Applicant who isn’t observing a Leader in action in her Group can have benefits for you, too. She may ask questions that prompt you to look at what you do from a new perspective. What a great way to refresh your own leadership.

Corresponding with an isolated Applicant requires a commitment of time and energy that is well worth your while. Contact your A/CLA if you need ideas, information, or help in working with a mother who is not part of a Group. When you take the role of sponsoring Leader for an isolated Applicant, you become a vital third partner in the Applicant-A/CLA-Leader relationship. Isolated candidates/Applicants are out there waiting for a Leader to help them learn about and prepare for leadership. When accredited, the former isolated Applicant often starts a new Group where she is. Perhaps that new Leader will soon be sponsoring Applicants, too, and the ripples you set in motion will spread. Make a commitment today to help an isolated mother learn about leadership!

Karin Gausman has been a Leader since 1975 and is currently Associate Director for Regional Administrators of Leader Accreditation. She and her husband have three adult children and three grandchildren.

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