Learning about Leader Responsibilities

Linda Wieser, Nova Scotia, Canada

Completing a Checklist of Topics to Discuss in Preparation for LLL Leadership helps Applicants meet the Leadership Skills Criteria outlined in LLLI Policy and Standing Rules Notebook (LLLI PSR) Appendix 18, Applying for Leadership. These include:

  • Understands the importance of acceptance and respect for individual choices regarding breastfeeding and parenting
  • Can communicate effectively in providing mother-to-mother help
  • Is familiar with LLL resources and can gather, organize and retrieve pertinent information
  • Understands and agrees to work within LLL guidelines for consulting, documenting and reporting
  • Understands and agrees to work within LLLI policies as presented in the LLLI Bylaws, LLLI PSR, the Leader Handbook and other LLLI publications

It is the responsibility of the supporting Leader to review the topics on the Checklist with an Applicant. You are welcome to be creative and combine discussion of these topics with practical experience. The goal of the Checklist is to help the future co-Leader feel confident about leading a meeting, managing the Group, responding to questions and using the available LLL resources. These topics are covered in the Leader Handbook. Some Applicants prefer to read the Leader Handbook first and then review the Checklist; others choose to discuss the Checklist topics and review them by reading the Leader Handbook. In addition to reading and talking about Leader responsibilities, it is helpful to also have practical experience. While an Applicant can’t lead a Series Meeting, there are many other things an Applicant can do to experience the Leader role.

Here are some ways Applicants can practice doing some of the things you do as a Leader. (Please note that some suggestions below require an LLLID and password to access the Leaders pages on the LLLI website.)

 Mother-to-mother support
  • Role-play helping situations with another Applicant or Leader
  • Practice empathetic responses
  • Do the Bias Exercise (Optional exercise found in the Leader Applicant’s Resource Kit, or LARK)
  • Respond to a practice email from a Leader
  • Fill out a Leader’s log while doing a practice phone call
Planning and leading Series Meetings
  • Choose titles for a series of four meetings
  • Select questions or an activity for each meeting
  • Write out and present an introduction for the start of a Series Meeting at a Leader Applicant Meeting, or mock meeting
  • Lead a mock meeting with several Applicants and Leaders
  • Lead a discussion at an Evaluation, Enrichment or Chapter Meeting
  • Report on a book from the Group library at a Series Meeting
  • Do the Mixing Causes Exercise (Optional exercise found in the LARK)
  • Do the Listening Exercise (Optional exercise found in the LARK)
Using LLL resources
  • Explore the LLL website for your entity
  • Look up several topics in the LLLI website, Breastfeeding Info A to Z
  • Fill out the Medical Questionnaire form as you practice responding to a helping question
  • Read one or two of the public articles from Leader Today
  • Explore the Meeting Ideas pages of the LLLI website Leader pages (LLLID and password required)
  • Make a list of the LLL support Leaders for your Area
  • Use the “Whom to Contact Exercise” questions (Optional exercise found below)
Managing the LLL Group
  • Fill out the meeting report on the Leader’s behalf
  • Create a meeting announcement for the next Series Meetings
  • Look through the Group library and discuss whether to discard dated books and/or purchase new titles
  • Practice filling out a Financial Reporting Form for your Group
Helping mothers become Leaders
  • Role-play a pre-application dialogue
  • Review the documents on the Leader Applicant page of the LLLI website (LLLID and password required) or Leader Applicant information on your entity’s website
Beyond basic Leader responsibilities
  • Think about what you’d like to be doing as a Leader five years from now – what LLL department interests you the most?
  • Create an outline for talking with student nurses about LLL and basic breastfeeding management
  • Select a topic you’d like to present at a Leaders’ workshop and make an outline
  • Attend a meeting of a local breastfeeding committee or task force
The structure of LLL
  • Look at the Organizational Structure chart in the Leader Applicant’s Resource Kit (LARK) and locate your entity
  • As you read the Leader Handbook, and find LLL acronyms/abbreviations that you are unfamiliar with, make a list of them and their meaning; for example, PLD is Professional Liaison Department
LLLI documents
  • Read the LLLI Inclusivity Statement with the Group Leaders and discuss how you might want to practice it
  • Think about a possible example of a WHO Code violation
  • Go through Appendices 17 and 18 of the LLLI PSR and discuss when these documents become useful

Giving Applicants the opportunity to practice Leader responsibilities can help them be prepared for their future role as an LLL Leader.

Linda Wieser lives in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada, where she and her husband, Jim, have a large garden and several boats for playing around on the water. They have two grown daughters and three grandchildren. Linda has been a Leader since 1984. For many years she worked in the Professional Liaison Department as Area Professional Liaison for Michigan, USA, and then Atlantic Canada. In 2008, she became a member of the Leader Accreditation Department (LAD) and is currently the Administrator of Leader Accreditation for LLL Canada.  She is also the Contributing Editor of the“Preparing for Leadership” column in Leader Today.



Whom to Contact Exercise

For each of the following situations, decide which department or support person within LLL you would contact to get help

  • A breastfeeding mother calls and asks if there’s something she can safely take for her cold.
  • You want to have a fundraising event for your Group and have questions about it.
  • A new attendee at your meeting yesterday said she is a Leader Applicant.
  • You have been asked to give a presentation for student nurses about La Leche League and breastfeeding support.
  • A parent called with concerns about their two-week-old baby’s weight gain. You gathered as much information as you could about baby’s weight, output, feeding pattern. You’re not sure where to start.
  • A mother wants to know if it’s safe to get a tattoo when breastfeeding.
  • You are not receiving notifications for Leader Today.
  • You had a pre-application dialogue with a mother in your Group. She returned to work when her son was four-months-old. You’re not sure if she meets the Mothering Experience Prerequisite in PSR Appendix 18.
  • Your co-Leader has not shown up for the last three meetings. Each time she called you at the last minute to say she couldn’t come. She rarely responds to your emails. You feel like a lone Leader.
  • A parent needs to have a test using a radiopaque dye and has been told not to breastfeed for 48 hours after the procedure. (Radiopaque dyes are used in radiology to enhance x-ray pictures of internal anatomic structures. They block radiation and make the objects visible.)
  • A mother with a six-month-old calls and asks if an LLL Leader could be a witness at her child’s custody hearing. Her estranged husband is asking for overnight visits and their baby is exclusively breastfed and has never been separated from her.
  • A nurse from an Area with no LLL Group contacted you about becoming a Leader.
  • There aren’t many meeting attendees and you are looking for ways to increase attendance.
  • You are currently working with three Leader Applicants and they want to attend a Communication Skills Development (CSD) workshop.
  • A woman calls and says she was just asked to leave a restaurant where she was breastfeeding her 15-month-old son.
  • You have a large Group and think several mothers might be interested in leadership. You’d like to hold a meeting for Interested Mothers.
  • One of the public health nurses in your Area calls and asks if a La Leche League Leader could attend the new breastfeeding task force being set up.