Exploring Library Leadership

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Exploring Library Leadership

Workshop Agenda

Summer/Fall 2006
Instructor: Maureen Sullivan

Organization Development Consultant


Welcome and Introduction

Leadership in Libraries Today: Challenges and Opportunities

  • Every library professional has the opportunity to lead

  • Why a positive, optimistic approach is so important

  • Leadership in practice, by position held, and by opportunity taken

Principles and Practices of Effective Leadership

  • Definitions of leadership

  • Brief overview of leadership theory in evolution

  • Leadership in practice: the five key areas

Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

  • Emotional intelligence defined

  • Self-assessment of personal strengths

  • How to become a "resonant leader"

Leadership Development: Charting a Course

  • Assessment of areas for competency development

  • Creation of a personal plan

Leadership: Challenges and Opportunities

Identify the two or three greatest challenges your library faces today. Note what comes to mind below. Make brief notes about why you think each is a challenge.

What are the two or three greatest challenges you face as a leader in your organization? Why do you believe these are challenges?

Review both sets of responses. What ideas or insights come to mind?

Leadership in Organizations Today: Key Principles

Warren Bennis and Joan Goldsmith in Learning to Lead: A Workbook on Becoming a Leader, describe the nature of leadership required in organizations today and in the future. In the book’s preface they say:

Truly successful leadership today requires “teams, collaboration, diversity, innovation, and cooperation. Leadership has begun to take on a new dimension. The leadership we are seeking is one that is empowering, supportive, visionary, problem-solving, creative, and shared. We are calling for a continuum of leadership that includes indirect leadership exerted through support and networking or scholarly studies or symbolic communication; and that extends to direct leadership of the sort that is exercised by world leaders through speeches and similar means. On that continuum, each of us can find a place and a means of expressing ourselves.
They have identified four general expectations that constituents have of their leaders:

  1. Purpose, Direction, and Meaning

  1. Trust

  1. Optimism

  1. Action and Results

Bennis and Goldsmith also have identified three organizational requirements for the “effective, creative, and productive workplaces where, rather than suppressing ourselves, we are able to use our talents to express our contributions.” These are:

  1. Alignment with a common vision

  1. Empowerment of all involved

  1. A learning, inquiry-based, and reflective culture

Leadership in Practice: The Five Key Areas

(Kouzes and Posner)

Challenge the process:
Look for the challenging opportunities to innovate, improve, and change.
Experiment and take risks.
Learn from experience. See mistakes as opportunities to learn and improve.
Inspire shared vision:
Clarify your own personal vision.
Adopt a positive and optimistic view of the future.
Invite others to contribute to the creation of a common vision.

Enable others to act:
Foster collaboration and develop trust in relationships.
Empower others.
Delegate to develop competence and encourage others to reach their potential.
Model the way:
Set an example by ensuring that actions follow words and values.
Set a path to achieve consistent progress.
Build commitment.
Encourage the heart:
Recognize contributions.
Celebrate accomplishments.

Key Competencies for Effective Leadership in Libraries

  • Practicing systems thinking

  • Building relationships

  • Managing differences

  • Influencing others

  • Effectively managing oneself

  • Conveying empathy toward others

  • Acting as a change catalyst

  • Collaborating with others and actively fostering collaboration

  • Demonstrating a service orientation

  • Being self confident and having confidence in one’s abilities to act

  • Dealing with ambiguity

  • Having political savvy

  • Managing and leading with vision and purpose

The Five Components of Emotional Intelligence at Work



Self Awareness

The ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions and drives, as well as their effect on others

Realistic self-assessment
Self-deprecating sense of humor

Self Regulation

The ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods
The propensity to suspend judgment – to think before acting

Trustworthiness and integrity
Comfort with ambiguity
Openness to change


A passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status
A propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence

Strong drive to achieve
Optimism, even in the face of failure
Organizational commitment


The ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people
Skill in treating people according to their emotional reactions

Expertise in building and retaining talent
Cross-cultural sensitivity
Service to clients and customers

Social Skill

Proficiency in managing relationships and building networks
An ability to find common ground and build rapport

Effectiveness in leading change
Expertise in building and leading teams

Trusted Leadership

In their book, The Trusted Leader, Robert Galford and Anne Seibold Drapeau, describe three kinds of trust in organizations:

Strategic trust: trust that the organization is doing the right things -- goals and strategies
Organizational trust: trust in the way things are done -- processes and decision making
Personal trust: trust in the people leading the organization -- trust in the individual leader

The authors also describe a set of universal benefits of trusted leadership:

  • Frees people to act and make decisions that will benefit the organization

  • Fuels the passion and intrinsic motivation of staff

  • Provides focus

  • Fosters innovation

  • Gives people the time to "get it right"

  • Is contagious

  • Helps recruit new people who are on the same wavelength

  • Helps retain great people

  • Improves the quality of work

The characteristics of the trusted leader include: trustworthiness, credibility, reliability, intimacy, and lack of self-orientation (or the ability to focus on others).

Follow-Up: An Action Plan
Reflect upon your experience and what you have learned today. Address the following:

  1. What insights or new ideas have you gained about yourself as a leader?

  1. What are your strengths? What do you do well now?

  1. In what areas do you need to develop? Where do you need to improve your effectiveness as a leader?

  1. Identify one goal to pursue for your development in the next six to eight weeks.

A starting point is:

Steps I can take within the next two months are:

Sources of support:

I will know I have been successful when…

Selected List of Readings on Leadership

Recommended By: Maureen Sullivan

Inside the Mind of the Leader. The January 2004 Issue of the Harvard Business Review.
Bennis, Warren and Joan Goldsmith. Learning to Lead: A Workbook on Becoming a Leader. Addison-Wesley, 1997.
Bolman, Lee G and Terrence E. Deal. The Wizard and the Warrior. Jossey-Bass, 2006.
Boyatzis, Richard and Annie McKee. Resonant Leadership. Harvard Business School Press, 2005.
Bridges, William. Managing Transitions. 2nd ed., DaCapo Press, 2003.

Covey, Stephen R. The 8th Habit. Free Press, 2004.

Galford, Robert and Anne Seibold Drapeau. The Trusted Leader. The Free Press, 2002.
Goleman, Daniel et al. Primal Leadership. Harvard Business School Press, 2002.
Kegan, Robert and Lisa Laskow Lahey. How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work. Jossey-Bass, 2001.
Kouzes, James M. and Barry Z. Posner. The Leadership Challenge. Jossey-Bass, 2002.
Kouzes, James M. and Barry Z. Posner. Encouraging the Heart. Jossey-Bass, 1999.
Patterson, Kerry et al. Crucial Conversations. McGraw-Hill, 2002.
Patterson, Kerry et al. Crucial Confrontations. McGraw-Hill, 2005.
Quinn, Robert E. Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within. Jossey-Bass, 1996.
Scholtes, Peter R. The Leader’s Handbook: A Guide to Inspiring Your People and Managing the Daily Workflow. McGraw-Hill, 1998.
Senge, Peter, et al. The Dance of Change. Doubleday, 1999.
Vaill, Peter B. Learning as a Way of Being. Jossey-Bass, 1996.

Exploring Library Leadership Summer/Fall 2006 - This material has been created Maureen Sullivan for the Infopeople Project [infopeople.org], supported by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian. Any use of this material should credit the author and funding source.

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