Back In Full Effect

photo credit: msaari via photopin cc

photo credit: msaari via photopin cc

Thanks for finding us.  We were lost for a few months.

The leaders behind Library Lost & Found want to earn your trust again as a source for practical and sound leadership advice.  Good stuff from the trenches.  It certainly does not help when the blog drops off the grid for a few months.

How many times as a leader do you feel like you have lost the trust of a team member?  It is not a great feeling.  I was really worried that our absence may result in losing your trust as a reader.  When I started thinking of how the contributors of LL&F could get you reading again, an email from the Harvard Business Review appeared in my inbox that really helped.

In her blog post Carolyn O’Hara outlined four easy ways to build and keep the trust of your team.  Every suggestion helped me reevaluate the charge of this blog.

  • Make a connection. – We have enlisted seven new contributors!  All of them are from different types of libraries all over the United States.  Most importantly each one is at a differently level in their leadership career!  We hope that you will connect with the diverse voices writing about their experiences.
  • Encourage rather than command. – LL&F is not a “how-to” manual.  The goal is to share the honest stories that provide insights on how to lead in libraries.  Success will be measured if we encourage you to become a better leader from what you have read.
  • Take blame, but give credit. – Some of the best posts come from stories in which we failed.  The contributors are not above admitting mistakes in their own leadership adventures.  We will share when we mess up and will celebrate the people in our lives that help us lead.
  • Show competenceLL&F is committed to not only waxing poetic about the leadership battles that make us strong, but also providing scholarly research.  Expect to see more links to articles on leadership from different professions, resources that support the journey, and insight from the people charging forward to make libraries great.  Don’t worry, we will still try and make you laugh as well.

LL&F is back in full effect.  Ready to be the trusted blog you visit weekly to discover “library leaders dropping knowledge.”  Thanks for coming back to pick up what we are putting down.

More Leading, Less Doing

I recently read a post by Ed Batista on the Harvard Business Review blog, and it resonated with me. Mr. Batista says that many people make their mark in business and get noticed by being a doer – someone who works quickly and efficiently, and who gets stuff done. I’d agree with that. When you have an employee who is always reliable and who you know will do things, you notice it. They are often in the forefront of your mind when it is time for promotion.

I consider myself a doer. Now that I am in a leadership position, I struggle with delegation specifically because I am a doer. I want to do the work because the work is what made me excited about librarianship in the first place. I have to constantly remind myself that my co-workers want to do the work too! Those who are not yet in leadership positions need to be given opportunities to be noticed so that they can become leaders too.

As a leader, one of my roles is to inspire others to be doers. I make the resources available to them so that they can be successful. I encourage them to communicate and collaborate with each other so that everyone is more efficient. I try to encourage a big-picture view of the organization so that we don’t get too tunnel-visioned on our own departments and projects. I don’t want to be “Chief Doer” as Batista describes. The work I “do” now is now intended to set an example of my expectations.

For more interesting business and leadership articles, check out the Harvard Business Review blog network!

Management vs. Leadership

photo credit: Honor Photo Bar via photopin cc

photo credit: Honor Photo Bar via photopin cc

I am currently serving on an ALA committee: the Library Leadership and Management Association’s (LLAMA) Competencies Committee. Simply stated, the group is charged with creating a list of leadership and management competencies for the profession. Libraries of all types can use the list to develop job descriptions, training programs, and identify standards, and library schools can use the list to teach library leadership and management skills expected by the profession.

Last year’s committee determined that there is definitely a difference between management and leadership, and this year’s group will take the existing combined competencies list and separate leadership competencies from management competencies. I’ve been assigned to the team who will identify the management half of the list.

The literature review completed by last year’s committee has helped a lot to make the distinction. While both managers and leaders are crucial to organizations, there are some key functions of each. Managers do things like planning, budgeting, staffing, evaluating, and problem solving. They get the daily work done and keep the organization on track. They are responsible for making sure the organization produces the work it set out to do. Leaders, on the other hand, are visionaries. They get buy-in, empower others, facilitate change, and find opportunities.  They are responsible for making sure the organization stays viable into the future.

A team member shared the article “Management is Still (Not) Leadership” by John Kotter from the Harvard Business Review. The article defines and separatesmanagement from leadership really well. I especially love Kotter’s idea that people with charisma are not necessarily leaders. They’re often just attractive, charming people.

I also love the idea that there are leaders at all levels of staffing. The person at the top of the organization chart isn’t necessarily a leader. They could be a manager – and that’s not a bad thing, but there have to be leaders in the group or the organization won’t move successfully into the future. Think about your staff. Do you have a Page or Intern who shares ideas, encourages and suggests change, and inspires others? They’re a leader! Do you have Department Heads who get a lot of work done, present complete budgets, and problem solve well – but who do not seem to have a vision for the library’s future? They’re managers! Again, both are critical to the success of the organization.

So, as I contribute to the work of this committee, separating management competencies from leadership competencies, I will be looking for these attributes in the people around me. I will also be analyzing myself.

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Inbox Advice

mzl.henusnwu.175x175-75Most mornings after my alarm sings me awake with my current favorite jams, I reach for my iPhone to read what I missed while sleeping.  After deleting the junk mail and reviewing the previous day’s circulation reports, I delightfully open the email from Harvard Business Review.  I am not only a subscriber to the print publication, but I am also a huge fan of the daily “Management Tip of the Day” email.  Every day the brain trust at one of the most prestigious business schools in the world delivers a piece of advice that seems to be so relevant that I think they have a camera in my office. Even before my first cup of coffee, I have been granted a management tool that can possibly help me when I roll into work.  The HBR tips have ranged from how to deal with crying employees to creating the right PowerPoint slide for a perfect presentation.  The tips that have helped the most for me contain info on taking care of myself as a leader.  Many of the tips are linked to the very informative blogs on the HBR website.  Even the ads that come from HBR after signing up for the emails can lead you to great resources you can either purchase or find in your library.  If you are a management info junkie like me, I encourage you to sign up for this daily info.  Start your day with a short jolt of advice that combined with some morning joe that will infuse you with energy to be a great leader.  The best part is that you do not have to pay Ivy League college prices.

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Mulligan Man

do_oveWhen I first became a department head, I thought I needed to immediately leave my mark.  This is especially difficult when you are being asked to lead people who used to be your peers.  Instead of being the fun, energetic teen librarian, I became a “tough guy” wanting to make changes right away.  I remember a time early on when I wanted to establish authority, so when something went wrong (I honestly cannot even remember what happened) I called everyone into my cramped office and suddenly became the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket.  Basically, I was a jerk and even worse a jerk to staff who I had recently worked with in the trenches.  Luckily, as my job evolved and assumed more staff in my department, I was given a “mulligan” or second chance to redeem myself.  What I learned was assuming leadership over a team comprised with individuals who used to be peers is a slow process.  It takes time and energy to build the trust needed for any team to be successful.  I am still trying to fix the damage I inflicted early in my managerial career.  A recent blog post from the Harvard Business Review written by Amy Gallo summed it up nicely:

• Tread lightly at first. Don’t introduce any major overhauls right away. Identify a few small decisions you can make fairly quickly, but defer bigger ones until you’ve been in the role longer.

• Be actively present. Spend time with each of your new direct reports. Ask, “What can I do to make you more successful?” This question shows that you’re in charge, but also conveys that you’re there to support them.

• Look beyond your team. During this type of transition, it’s easy to become focused on your former peers. But don’t forget to build connections with new counterparts and your new boss.

It’s OK to screw up your first time as a manager.  Horrible bosses refuse to even acknowledge that they need a “do over” and handicap teams.  What will make you a great leader is to that you use your mulligans to right your wrongs.  The Mulligan Man hereby grants you a few extra mulligans.  Go forth and use them only for good.