Thursday 4 June 2015

Blog Every Day in June Day 4: Leadership: Some thoughts

Today's post comes from the blog of Kim Tairi, Librarian at Swinburne University. 

This piece was originally published to Kim's tumblr, under the title Leadership: Some thoughts.

Kim offers some great insights into leadership in libraries. You should also follow her on Twitter!

Leadership: Some Thoughts

Are you genuinely interested in leadership in the Library and Information Sciences (LIS)? I’ve been thinking about leadership more and more these days. These are some of my thoughts on leadership in the library and information profession. 

Leadership is Rewarding

Leadership can be hard. Some times we have to do things we don’t like and you won’t like us for. It is also rewarding. When you and your team make a difference. When the experience of working in an organisation or visiting that place called a Library is better for users and staff. 

Leadership is deliberate 

Leadership requires taking action. At the moment I am grappling with pace of change. I want it to come faster. We have a vision. We know were we would like to take our service but there is fear, that we will get it wrong and that people will not like what we are doing. Not everyone is on the same page. I need to be patient. But I feel strongly that the process of making decisions in many public institutions hinders change. 
The process of trying to make decisions by consensus in libraries (and universities) can be crippling. Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and trust. Better still use evidence and show why the change is necessary. 
Leaders keep Learning
To be a better leader you need to keep learning, keep practising and be willing to learn from mistakes - because you will make them! Your pride will be battered and you will wonder why you do it but believe me the profession needs good leaders. Maybe it is you!

Listening is essential. But remember your users and staff are not one unified group of people who all think the same way. Don’t make too many assumptions.  Use evidence and listen to people to make informed decisions. There needs to be authentic consultation but that is not the same as consensus. 

It is attitude that stops many libraries from moving forward. We need to be wary of saying a particular generation is going to save our libraries. Progressive thinking is not only the domain of the young. Instead, I believe what our profession needs is diversity! 
Diversity of people, thinking, skills, and qualifications. Librarians can’t do it all on their own. We are amazing - true but we are better when we collaborate. 

One final word on attitude - my twitter buddy Cath Sheard (@kiwilibrarian) talks about leading with heart. I believe if you lose it you won’t ever be a good leader. 

Be the Leader you want
To finish I try to be the kind of leader I want: 

  • compassionate
  • thoughtful
  • pragmatic
  •  fiscally responsible
  • evidence-based
  • team-player
  • I practice
  • I take risks
  • innovative
  • connected
  • creative
  • inspiring
  • willing and want to learn more


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