Show & Tell is an elementary school fixture. For those who are unfamiliar, Show & Tell is when you bring an object to school, Show it to everyone and then Tell them about it. Kids bring in stuffed animals, pictures, souvenirs, favorite foods, etc. Show & Tell encourages the development of narrative skills and socializes kids to the niceties of polite society–even if I didn’t give a rip about Jeff Gold’s soccer cleats, I politely listened to what he had to say and clapped for him when he was done.
In Show & Tell, you show first, then tell everyone about it. As a frontline employee, supervisor, manager, and now an administrator, I have learned that Show & Tell is also important for building trust with others. Nobody wants to hear me tell them how awesome I am; they want to see it. Talk can often be just hot air–especially if you are new to the group and no one knows you. Leaders must earn the respect and trust of their group, by keeping promises and delivering results. I work constantly to demonstrate to my staff, my community, and my board that I am committed and productive.
I am lucky; for the most part, the people I work with share the same ethic of Show & Tell. My staff know their jobs and do them well, working together to connect the library to our community. Because we take Show & Tell to heart, we were selected to be the inaugural recipient of the LibraryAware Community Award, appearing on the cover of Library Journal’s April 1 issue. We had a party on May 10 to receive our award, with a turnout of 200-250 people. The library is there every day for our community, and as a result, our community was there for us when we received our award.
I encourage you to keep Show & Tell in mind, fellow leaders. Building trust is crucial to great leadership. Show your department, your division, your library, your community how awesome you are, and you won’t have to Tell–they will do the Telling for you.