It is often said that home schooling is more than just an educational choice, but rather it is a lifestyle. Leadership is also a lifestyle. Leadership is about influence, and we all carry some degree of influence on others; but in order to influence others, we must also connect with them.
It is clear to see that planning events and attending board meetings are a part of leadership; but when it comes to mentoring, offering support and advice, and simply extending the hand of friendship, leaders sometimes forget that these, too, are part of leadership. If enthusiasm and concern for the group has faded in the leadership team and leaders are acting out of duty rather than connecting with the members, that fading spirit will soon be reflected in the membership as well.
Participation in group functions begins to wane, and eventually the group can wither and die.
When groups begin to fade, it is easy for those in leadership to point to the membership – or lack thereof – as the chief cause. It is important to remember there are life cycles in support groups – groups do ebb and flow between times of intense activity and times when families need respite from the activities and a break is required. This will be more evident in smaller groups in which there are fewer people to carry on the work, but also keep in mind – life and leadership are connected, and when a leader no longer carries influence with a group, it could be because his life is no longer connected with the group.
Sometimes it’s not only one leader, but the entire leadership team that has lost its feel for the pulse of the group. There are many reasons why leaders can lose influence and connection with their group. Before simply “throwing in the towel” and disbanding the group or leaving it to wither and die, leaders should stop and consider why the group is waning and why they no longer have influence or a connection with the group. They should also determine why they are ready to quit and whether they are truly ready to move on.
Perhaps, for example, the leadership consists primarily of older moms with older students who have strong friendships outside the group and no longer need the fellowship and structured activities the group provides, or maybe the leaders have extended their roles as mentor/leader to other areas or people outside the support group and no longer have the time to devote to developing relationships within the group. Sometimes the dynamics of the membership have changed, and perhaps the leaders no longer have as much in common with the general membership; therefore they no longer carry as much influence. For whatever reason, the lives of the leaders are simply no longer connected with their group.
Leaders who have a heart for home school families will want to thoroughly investigate whether there is a need for a support group in the community before letting their group fade away. If a need is determined, they should investigate what they can do to revive the group, rather than let it die. They can either reconnect as leaders or pass the position on to others.
Many times when groups are fading or the leadership is no longer exerting an influence, there are home school families still meeting and fellowshipping with each other. Finding new leaders and/or reconnecting with the group may simply mean purposely devoting time to developing relationships and mentoring those who already have influence within the home school community.
If families aren’t meeting, it might indicate a need for advertising the group and making sure the community knows your group is there or taking the time to reconnect with those former members and just beginning to develop relationships with them.
Leadership is an important role, but it is more than just a position; it is part of a lifestyle.