Leadership for Librarians with Andy Priestner

This course questioned, asked us to explore what was important and to consider how by identifying the qualities and values in effective leadership we can influence what we do.

Poor and great leaders, our first area of consideration and drawing on our own context and perceptions, the course explored, the values and qualities we attribute to both. The poor leader attribute ranged from the vague to the aggressive bully, while the great leader was beautifully summed up by one course attendee as ‘sneaky psychological wizardy.’

Management vs Leadership, how do we consider this? The exercise, asked us to consider where we attribute a range of statements. Not always clear cut, discussion was centred round the language used in the statements and experience to date. In conclusion however it showed the distinction comes from processes and organisation being attributed to Management whereas those statements which proposed vision and purpose, being attributed to Leadership.

Today we face a number of very specific Leadership challenges facing libraries, from funding cuts to internal and external understanding/perception. This raised a key point; in Libraries are we always looking to the future, is this adversely affecting Leadership? Does effective and aspirational Leadership require us to focus more on the here and now? In looking at these challenges we were asked to consider what values drive us as individuals. The next exercise really focused the mind on what was important. Ask to whittle down our memories, goals, possessions, important people to us and places, it threw up some surprises! This was followed by identifying the four most important values as individuals in Leaders from this we identified the four most important attributes as a group. ‘Inspiring’, ‘empowering’, ‘inclusive’ and ‘courageous’ were identified and these could be seen to be relational and outward looking.

So what were our individual Leadership styles and how did our leadership style relate to other styles of Leadership. Considering ‘Start with Why’ Simon Sinek and the ‘Golden Circle’ that demonstrated working from the inside out, from why to how to what. The link takes you to the TED Talk, that demonstrates this. This raised another key point of the course, as Libraries she would not be advocating what is our ‘why?’ more frequently and more openly? The example of Apple and Steve Jobs made a strong case for this approach, with the ‘why?’ caught in strong short simple statements, as with ipods statements put out by Apple, such as ‘1000 tunes in our pockets’ This could be translated to Library Leadership starting with our ‘why’ and repeating it.

Having considered Leadership styles, Steve Jobs Leadership Lessons, of Vision, belief, simplicity, emotion, integrity, metaphor and conviction were our final reference before we undertook Kouzes and Posner Leadership Style questionnaire to determine our own style of leadership, which would then inform the development of our own Leadership Development Plans.

This report probably does not do justice to the value of a course that proved to be very good in refreshing thoughts, developing discussion and experience and really focused the thoughts on ‘Leadership in Libraries’ and our own responsibilities to it. Our thanks go to CILIPinKent for organising and Andy Priestner.

-write up by CILIPinKent committee member Elizabeth Ficken

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