WLA 2008: Discussing Leadership: An Open Forum with Library Directors

Posted by Lisa Strand on Thursday, November 06, 2008 in WLA Blog Archive
A panel discussion by Peter Gilbert (Director of Seeley G. Mudd Library), Carrie Kruse (Director of College Library, UW-Madison) and Lysianne Unruh (Director, Mount Horeb Public Library). Moderated by Anna Lewis (UW-Madison).

This, standing room only, session was a started off my the moderator Anna Lewis who asked the panel to share how participants ended up in the leadership roles they are in today and what the best piece of advice they were given. While their career paths are interesting, all English majors turned librarians, I won't take space here for that, but rather share the advice they were given.

Peter Gilbert:
  • Appear to be judicious regardless of how you feel.
  • Do a twice daily walk around the building.
  • Say "It will be ok."
  • Listen to staff more than you talk.
  • Lead by example.
Lysianne Unruh:
  • Believe in the good, that people are doing their very best.
  • Hire good people.
  • Learn to let go - Use the 80/20 rule. Do the 20% that you can't give up, delegate the rest.
  • Get involved in the community.
Carrie Kruse:
  • Be authentic and passionate about your work.
The panel and audience shared tips for helping staff deal with change:
  • Try to figure out what the root of the fear is and work on that.
  • Bring your enthusiasm to the issue and it will help others deal with the change.
  • Remind those at the opposite ends of change that they need to be understand of those at the other end. If someone is pushing for change they should be reminded that some people don't change at the same pace. If someone is fighting change remind them that there are some that have a desire to try something new and different.
  • Be clear and upfront about change.
  • Offer continuing education opportunities.
  • A function of leadership is to "sell" change.
Managing your boss tips:
  • Get involved in your community where you can work as a colleague of some of your board members. It takes time, but it build good will.
  • Find out what your supervisor is interested in and feed them research and information. Make yourself valuable.
  • Make sure that you are seeing the bigger picture.
  • Don't ever let them be surprised by something.
Qualities in Hires and Tips for Retaining Staff
  • Attitude and enthusiasm, skills can be taught.
  • Is this the job the person really wants to do or is it just a job?
  • With each opening look for ways to reorganize and change tasks for people. Tap their skills and strengths.
The best advice I took way from this session was that leadership takes a lot of listening and communicating. There was a lot of participation by the audience and I am sure that others took away something different so I invite those that attended to comment with what they took away from the session.
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