Last time I posted, I promised to write next about what happens when you feel you cannot recommend an interested mother. Sometimes, when working with an interested mother during the pre-application dialogue process, you begin to feel that you really cannot recommend this mother for leadership. When this happens, a Leader should first step back and try to see the mother objectively. Applicants do not have to be like the other Leaders in the Group and they do not have to have perfect communication skills. A potential future Leader does need to do the following:
Meet the LLLI Prerequisites to Applying for Leadership http://www.llli.org/docs/lad/thinkingaboutleadership_feb-2016.pdf
Be willing to set aside time for continuing education about breastfeeding, communication, and other skills she’ll need to respond to questions and lead meetings, fulfilling the responsibilities of leadership. When concerns arise during the pre-application dialogue with a mother, you will ask more questions to clarify whether she understands the mission and purpose of LLL. (Many times, these concerns center around the issue of separation. We will talk more about this in a separate post.) Use active listening to help make sure you have fully understood the mother. It may be helpful to re-read the philosophy statements and make sure there is genuinely a conflict. Use LLL written materials to note and describe the potential issues you see. Show her, using specific examples, how these differences may affect her ability to function as a Leader. Suggest further reading and reflection if you feel the discrepancy could be potentially resolved and plan to talk again when she wants to continue the discussion. Also, it may be useful for you and your DA to work through any potential bias you may have that may cloud the issue. A listening exercise such as those found here http://www.lllalliance.org/wpcontent/uploads/2014/02/LARKL3LeadershipSkills.pdf may be helpful. It is important to take your time and not feel rushed. You are being asked to sign your name to a recommendation form and it is reasonable for you to take the time you need to be certain about your decision. In some cases, the issue may be resolved with time. It is acceptable to explain to a mother that you do not feel she is a good fit for leadership right now, but that you would like to revisit the conversation with her in a few months. In the meantime, she can assist the Group by taking on a Group job and being an experienced voice in the room at meetings. With other mothers, you may feel strongly that the issue cannot be resolved. That is all right too. At any time during this process, please feel free to reach out to the Leader Accreditation Department (LAD) or the Communication Skills Department for help in clarifying the differences you have noted and in coming to a decision about how to proceed and how to then communicate your decision.
If you do come to feel that your answer is that leadership is not a good fit for a mother, you need to prepare for the conversation. This may be emotionally charged for her, and we need to be careful to be sure it is not coming across as criticism of who she is as a person or her parenting choices. Recognize the mother’s feelings and refer again to the prerequisites using Thinking About La Leche League Leadership and show her the discrepancy to explain that you cannot recommend her for leadership. Invite her to explore other ways to meet her goals of helping mothers within the Group. Experienced mothers are such a great asset at meetings. And, finally share with her about the Appeals Process in Appendix 18. Do reach out for support if you need help in preparing for this challenging conversation. Sometimes, even after a mother has submitted her application, a discrepancy can become apparent. Perhaps you have observed her at Series Meetings and her communication skills are not developing the way you had hoped. Perhaps she is having difficulty leaving aside her personal beliefs when representing LLL philosophy. Remember that you and the Applicant do not have to become best friends. However, you do have to be able to have a working relationship with the Applicant, as she will become your future co-Leader. If your co-Leader is the supporting Leader, discuss your concerns with her. You may find out that she is aware of the problem and they are working on it, or she may not have observed the problem and will be glad to know about it. If you don’t agree about what needs to happen, be sure to contact the LAD representative who has been assigned to work with this Applicant involved. Let her know what is going on and she can help you figure out how to communicate more effectively about this issue.
Next time, we will turn our attention to the topic of separation.
‘Til next time,
Sponsoring Leader Mentor