Being the leader doesn’t always mean being the person in charge. Very often managers are leaders, but leaders also exist in all departments and levels in an organization.
At the Unconference, I was able to sit in on a few minutes of the “Leading from the Middle” break-out session. This topic was suggested by an attendee that morning and the other attendees voted to make it one of the established sessions.
As I listened to the discussion and also transcribed the tabletop discussion board, three main points took shape.
1) What makes a leader?
- Someone that others go to for answers.
- Someone that shows up and follows through.
- Someone who makes decisions with confidence.
- Someone who leads with extracurricular time: committees, conferences, Twitter, etc.
2) How can we keep new librarians from being discouraged?
- Encourage them to “stay sparkly” and don’t give up.
- Remind them that everyone reports to someone. Their director reports to the board and the board reports to the public.
- Suggest they consider how ideas might affect other departments so they can anticipate possible ramifications.
3) How should management encourage these leaders?
- Create a culture of tolerance for decision-making.
- Don’t second-guess decisions. Instead, offer constructive advice for future.
- Create avenues for rapid prototyping (ala Oak Park Public Library).
- Allow time for research/exploration.
- Model the behavior you want to see.
- Remember that leaders aren’t always librarians.
- Hire people you trust and let them run with their ideas.
Anyone have other suggestions for encouraging leaders in your organization?