What is our purpose as LLL Leaders?
Leaders represent La Leche League, so it is important to know what the organization believes and does.
The general purpose of LLL is to help the mother learn to breastfeed her baby, to encourage good mothering through breastfeeding, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding and related subjects.
LLL is an international, educational, non-sectarian, non-discriminatory service organization with a strict policy of not mixing causes. We have that policy in order to offer breastfeeding help to mothers with a variety of personal beliefs.
Leaders know the importance of one mother helping another to recognize and understand the needs of her child and to find the best means of fulfilling those needs. Leaders provide information and support so that each mother can make the decisions which are best for her family.
What does an LLL Leader do?
These are the basic responsibilities of a La Leche League Leader:
· Leads Series Meetings
· Manages an LLL Group
· Keeps up-to-date with breastfeeding information
· Helps mothers over the phone
· Answers mothers’ questions by post or email
· Works with Leader Applicants and mothers thinking about LLL leadership
· Communicates regularly with the organization
Leaders can choose the work which suits them best! Teamwork, identifying priorities and being realistic will help you to enjoy being an LLL Leader.
Definition of an active Leader
An active Leader pursues the La Leche League mission through basic Leader responsibilities as defined in the Policies and Standing Rules Notebook and/or other service to LLL. An active Leader’s fees are current, she keeps up to date with Leader education, and she communicates regularly with the organization.
(LLLI Policies and Standing Rules Notebook, Oct 91, Mar 01)
Leader responsibilities are shared when there is more than one Leader in a Group. Many Leaders find it beneficial to concentrate on the basic responsibilities for a period of time before considering expanding or changing their service to LLL. Leaders often find other or additional ways to serve the organisation as an active Leader. Here are some possibilities:
· Offer prenatal breastfeeding classes
· Raise funds for the Group
· Talk to school children studying child development
· Meet with teenage mothers
· Attend meetings for breastfeeding support organizations and health professionals to plan joint programs and events
· Write articles for LLL publications
· Help plan and organize LLL workshops, study days and conferences
· Lead a session at a workshop or Leader Day
· Do research or administrative work for LLL
· Work on translation of LLL resources
Most of an LLL Leader’s work is voluntary; you can claim expenses from your Group. If you give a talk or offer breastfeeding classes, or do work for LLL in which you have special expertise, such as translations or legal work, you may be able to receive payment and still be covered by LLLI liability insurance. “Do LLL Leaders have liability insurance?”
Are there benefits to being a Leader, besides satisfaction in knowing that you're helping women with something this important?
As this question suggests, there is the deep satisfaction gained from knowing that you are helping mothers and babies experience the benefits and the joy of breastfeeding.
Many Leaders would add that there are huge benefits in terms of:
· friendship with other Leaders and their families;
· access to LLLI as well as Area resources which are available to Leaders, such as Leaven and Area Leaders' letter, the Leader pages of the LLLI Web site, online Leader chats, and the Community Network, which is an online resource for Leaders only;
· Leader discounts on LLL publications;
· attending LLL workshops and conferences as a Leader (usually at reduced prices for Leaders);
· developing skills and interests at the national or international level;
· the continued opportunity to learn about breastfeeding and parenting with others who share LLL philosophy;
· the positive effect of learning on family life;
· developing transferable skills that can be of immeasurable use within the family or when applied to other work.
How can I fit LLL leadership into my life?
It is a balancing act! Just as you wondered how you would cope with a baby, and then perhaps a second baby and toddler, you discover how to juggle many different things in your life. If LLL is important to you, it can become one of those balls in the air.
You may already be sharing in the work of your local Group. Perhaps you have a Group job, such as Librarian or Treasurer. Maybe you have hosted meetings or provided refreshments. Your involvement will help to give you an insight into this aspect of leadership responsibilities.
There are many aspects of LLL work: planning meetings, answering queries, getting together with your co-Leaders to plan for and make decisions related to your LLL Group, attending workshops and conferences, etc. We hope you will find that these activities enrich your life, providing a wonderful network of friends and support for your breastfeeding and parenting choices, both now and as your children grow older.
What does leadership preparation involve?
· Corresponding with a member of the Leader Accreditation Department (LAD). She is called a Coordinator of Leader Accreditation (CLA) or Associate Coordinator of Leader Accreditation (ACLA).
o You and the A/CLA will be corresponding about the different aspects of the application.
o Your A/CLA may ask you to explore some areas of work more fully. She may share extra reading material with you to enlarge your understanding of some aspects of the application. She wants to work with you as flexibly as possible, taking account of your preferred learning style. Each leadership application is unique.
· Work with your supporting Leader in the Group, who recommends you and helps you through your application. Together you will discuss aspects of LLL leadership and practice how to help mothers who will contact you for information and support. You will learn about breastfeeding management and using LLL resources.
· Complete required background reading (the A/CLA will explain this in more detail if you apply).
I don’t have an LLL Group near me. Can I still apply?
It is possible to work through the application with only the support of a Leader Accreditation Department (LAD) representative. Please read our isolated members section for more information on what to do without a local Group. However, if at all possible we recommend you contact a local LLL Group and Leader in order to discuss your situation with her.
· Find your nearest Group by contacting LLL where you live or using the Find a La Leche League Leader online directory.
· If your nearest Group is too far away for you to attend meetings regularly, perhaps you can arrange to borrow books from its Group Library, or attend a few meetings so that you become familiar with how LLL meetings are organized.
· If there is no Group where you are, you can contact the LAD on the LLLI Web site, or by postal mail. A Director will refer you to a LAD representative who can help you. Contact information is at the end of these FAQs.
My LLL Group already has three Leaders. Does that mean there is no need for another Leader?
Some Groups find that having another co-Leader is a help when Leaders have another baby or move to a new house, which can make it difficult for them to do everything they would like to do.
Other Groups find they can maximize their impact by holding meetings in different locations, especially if they live in a big city or cover a large rural area.
A Group can split and become two separate Groups in order to reach more mothers.
Having several Leaders can sometimes offer more opportunities for reaching mothers in the wider community. In other words, they can then go beyond the basic responsibilities of a Leader. For instance:
· Some Groups with several Leaders decide to offer evening as well as daytime Series Meetings;
· Other meetings, such as Toddler Meetings, are sometimes more viable when there is more than one Leader to run them.
· The Leaders can take it in turns to attend meetings with health care professionals or share responsibility for running prenatal breastfeeding classes at the local hospital.
Each Group of co-Leaders can work out what will suit everyone best and meet the needs of the local community.
How long does the application take?
The average length of an application is about a year– some more, some less. Some applications have been completed in a few months.
It is not a race – we want you to go at your own pace. We are also there to help you keep up the momentum and enable you to reach your goal of LLL leadership.
Each mother’s situation is unique – you may have a very active toddler – or maybe twins! Or you may be expecting another baby. Or there may be other events, such as a house move or illness, that can prolong the application period.
Communicating with your A/CLA is key to progressing at a pace that suits you. She will be happy to discuss it if you need more time to respond.
Are there any requirements I must meet before I can apply?
· LLL Leaders represent the organisation, La Leche League. Central to LLL is its philosophy and Leaders demonstrate LLL philosophy in action.
· Talking with you about your breastfeeding and mothering experience, your supporting Leader will help you explore the extent to which your experience and ideas are a ‘good match’ with LLL philosophy. There may be areas where you disagree or have questions. It is important to discuss these with your supporting Leader beforehand so that together you can work out whether you meet the ‘LLLI Prerequisites to Applying for LLL Leadership’ (given below) to represent La Leche League.
· If you do not meet the prerequisites, there are other ways you can help breastfeeding mothers and stay involved in LLL (see other FAQs).
LLLI Prerequisites to Applying for LLL Leadership
1. Personal Breastfeeding Experience
o Mother has breastfed her baby for at least nine months when she applies for leadership.
o Her baby was nourished with mother’s milk until there was a nutritional need for other foods (i.e. about the middle of the first year for a healthy, full-term baby).
o If her baby has weaned, he or she was nursed for about a year and the transition from breastfeeding respected the baby’s needs.
Note: Special consideration may be given to a woman whose personal breastfeeding experience is outside the realm of a normal course of breastfeeding.
2. Mothering Experience
o Mother values nursing at the breast as the optimal way to nourish, nurture and comfort her baby.
o She recognizes, understands and responds to her baby’s need for her presence as well as for her milk.
o She manages any separation from her baby with sensitivity and respect for the baby’s needs.
3. Organizational Experience
o Is a current member of LLL.
o Supports LLL purpose and philosophy.
o Has attended at least one series of meetings (where available) and has demonstrated a commitment to LLL.
o Owns and is familiar with the contents of the most recent edition of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, if available in her language, as a primary resource for LLL Leaders.
o Has a recommendation from an LLL Leader.
4. Personal Traits
o Has sufficient command of language to complete the application and preparation for accreditation and to fulfil the responsibilities of LLL leadership.
o Has an accepting and respectful attitude toward others.
o Exhibits warmth and empathy towards others.
o Demonstrates or is willing to develop effective communication skills.
Every mother in LLL brings her unique experience, her warmth and empathy and other skills to her LLL work, whether she has had one baby or several.
There may be one or more areas where you feel you do not meet the prerequisites to applying for leadership. You are not alone! Many Leaders have had similar concerns. The important thing is to talk over your situation with your Group Leader. If it turns out that you are unable to proceed with an application at this time, you might consider some of the options in “I don’t think LLL leadership is for me, but I still want to help breastfeeding mothers.”
Is there a cost involved?
In order to apply for leadership, a mother must have paid the LLL membership fee. She would then need to pay the application fee and the cost of the Leader's Handbook. LLL membership and application fees vary according to where a mother lives. A requirement of the application is to own and be familiar with the current edition of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, which is central to La Leche League and answers many of the questions often asked by mothers about breastfeeding. At the end of an application there is an accreditation fee, which covers the administrative costs involved with accreditation. So to summarize:
· Membership fee
· Application fee
· Leader's Handbook
· Current edition of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
· Accreditation fee
Once a Leader is accredited, she no longer pays a membership fee; instead she pays annual Leader dues, which include an LLL membership and pay her liability insurance with LLLI, and, depending on her location, may include subscriptions toNew Beginnings and Leaven (our Leader publication).
What will I do during the application?
· Discuss with the A/CLA your personal experience of breastfeeding and mothering.
· Explore your understanding of and experience with LLL philosophy through ongoing dialogue with the A/CLA.
· Learn how to support the normal course of breastfeeding and help mothers cope with common concerns.
· Learn how to access relevant resources to support mothers facing specific breastfeeding challenges.
· Read a range of books and other publications about breastfeeding and mothering.
· Practise active listening and counselling skills with your sponsoring Leader.
· Learn about La Leche League as an organisation at local, national and international levels.
· Learn about leading LLL Series Meetings and about fulfilling other Leader responsibilities.
· If possible, attend LLL workshops (including those run by LLL Communication Skills Facilitators) and Leader/study days which are open to Leaders, Leader Applicants and mothers interested in becoming LLL Leaders.
The application aims to prepare you to meet the LLLI Criteria for Leader Accreditation. For more information, read on, especially read Steps to accreditation.
Is there a class or test to become an LLL Leader, or is it just doing the required reading?
There is no test involved in becoming a La Leche League Leader. The Leader Applicant, her supporting Leader and the Leader Accreditation Department representative work together until all feel confident that the Applicant has met the LLLI Criteria for Accreditation and is well prepared for leadership.
Leader accreditation – what is it?
To be accredited as an LLL Leader, a woman will meet the criteria below, outlined more fully in the LLLI Criteria for Leader Accreditation.
· She has met the LLLI Prerequisites to Applying for Leadership.
· She has nursed her baby for about a year.
· She has demonstrated understanding of LLLI philosophy.
· She has conveyed her knowledge of basic breastfeeding management, outlined in Breastfeeding Management Skills Criteria in the Policies and Standing Rules Notebook (PSR): Appendix 18 "Applying for Leadership".
· She has demonstrated leadership skills and attitudes, outlined in Leadership Skills Criteria in the Policies and Standing Rules Notebook (PSR) Appendix 18 "Applying for Leadership".
· She has completed the LLL Leader accreditation process.
· She has signed the LLL Leader Statement of Commitment. (Ask your supporting Leader to show you a copy of this if you wish.)
· She has paid her Leader accreditation fee.
Do LLL Leaders have liability insurance?
La Leche League carries general liability and professional services insurance for all volunteer Leaders. A Leader must pay her Leader dues in order to be covered by this insurance.
Liability insurance is a complex issue. For more information, we recommend the LEAVEN article, “FAQs about LLLI Liability Insurance”, February-March 2006, Vol. 42 No. 1.
I am interested, but do not think the time is right for me.
There is a great deal you can do to support your local Group. Perhaps you could take on a Group job, such as Librarian or Treasurer, or offer to help with publicity or fund-raising. Your Group Leader may be able to suggest ways in which your support would be especially helpful.
Ask your Group Leader about Evaluation Meetings. Taking part in these meetings is an excellent way to stay involved in your Group and gain an insight into the role of an LLL Leader.
You can attend workshops which are open to interested mothers as well as Leaders and Applicants.
Read as many books and LLL publications as you can about breastfeeding and parenting. Ask your Group Leader to recommend publications, which may be available from your Group Library or ordered from the online LLL bookstore. This can be very worthwhile preparation before applying for LLL leadership at a later time.
I don’t think I meet the prerequisites to applying for leadership.
Talk to your Group Leader. She will be happy to discuss any questions you might have.
Might there come a time when you would meet the LLLI Prerequisites to Applying for Leadership? Perhaps you could delay making your application until a later date.
LLL recognises that women in your position have a great deal to offer other breastfeeding women. The success of an LLL Group is based on mother-to-mother support. We hope you will stay involved in your local LLL Group and know that we value the contribution you make.
I don’t think LLL leadership is for me, but I still want to help breastfeeding mothers.
You can still be a tremendous support by being active in your LLL Group perhaps by:
· Taking on a Group job, such as Librarian or Treasurer.
· Attending LLL Series Meetings and offering your experience are of enormous help to a new mother.
· Offering to host a Series Meeting or other meetings.
· Helping to publicizing your Group, distributing meeting notices to clinics and surgeries.
· Helping to raise funds for your Group could help provide more leaflets, information sheets and books for your Group Library.
Some of you, especially if you are also health care providers, may want to take out a Professional Breastfeeding Resource Center (BRC) Membership. This gives access to bulk ordering of LLL materials.
Perhaps you are interested in becoming a paid lactation consultant (setting up a private practice, or being employed by a hospital, a physician, or other health care provider). Many of these consultants are International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC). They are certified through the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE). For information about the IBCLC program, read LLLI's FAQ "What are some pathways to becoming a Board Certified Lactation Consultant - IBCLC?" or the The International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners Web site.
You may find that you are drawn to breastfeeding counseling, but LLL leadership is not the way to reach your goal. LLL recognizes and values your desire to help breastfeeding women. Training with another breastfeeding support organization might best enable you to become a breastfeeding counselor. Many breastfeeding counselors affiliated with other organizations remain members of their local LLL Group and work cooperatively with LLL Leaders at both a local and national level.
I think I want to apply, but I have some more questions.
It is important that you talk to your Group Leader before making an application. Look through the Pre-Application Guidelines with her and find out more about Pre-Application Dialogue.
You might want to write down your questions while they are fresh in your mind and contact your Group Leader in order to arrange a meeting.
I think leadership is right for me. What is my next step?
Contact a Leader in your local Group. For information about how to find a Group if you are not already attending one, use theFind a La Leche League Leader online directory.
THANK YOU for taking the time to read this information about LLL leadership. We hope that you now feel positive about your choice, whether or not LLL leadership is the right direction for you just now.