Self-Awareness for Library Leaders

hhibner —  January 7, 2016 — 4 Comments

In 2010, Green Peak Partners and Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations conducted a study about the importance of self-awareness as a trait for leaders. They found that a high self-awareness score was the strongest predictor of success. I am not surprised by this.

photo of a brown owl looking in a mirror

cc-by Wagner Machado Carlos Lemes

Over the years I have met a few professionals who, when I hear them speak, I think “Yes! I agree completely!” Their philosophies match my own perfectly. However, then I find that their methods of following through on their ideas are actually demoralizing to staff, controlling, or insensitive. Their actions do not match the inspiration and enthusiasm of their words. Maybe they mistake aggression for assertiveness and are actually just a jerk with good ideas, or maybe they have no idea how they are coming across to others. That is, they mean well but have no self-awareness.

When hiring leaders, we should ask the candidates about how they accomplish their work, rather than just be impressed by the laundry list of important projects they have completed. We should also be sure that when we call their professional references, we ask about the candidates’ self-awareness. Not just “What are their strengths and weaknesses?”, but “How do they improve themselves?” and “How do they gain feedback?”. The important part here is how they gather feedback.

You can also use personality tests like Myers-Briggs or StrengthsFinder as part of the hiring process for positions of leadership. Are you hiring a personality type that complements those already on staff, and among those whom they will work most closely? Are you hiring a personality type that is compatible with the goals of the institution?

Leaders, to you I suggest putting yourself in your co-workers’ shoes. If your boss had this decision to make, this procedure to put in place, or this project to complete, how would you want to receive the information? What would make you feel included and empowered? Look at the last few big projects you completed. How do you think your co-workers would describe your effectiveness? Be honest, and take into consideration the areas you know to be your weaknesses.

If anyone has other good ideas about self-awareness and leadership, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

hhibner

Posts

Adult Services Coordinator at the Plymouth District Library with a mild obsession for collection quality. Ok, maybe not so mild. Find me on Twitter at @hhibner and over at Awful Library Books (http://awfullibrarybooks.net)!

4 responses to Self-Awareness for Library Leaders

  1. 

    Reblogged this on reneehandley and commented:
    I completely agree with this assessment. Too often, people who might have good work ethic and/or good ideas, are not necessarily the best leaders because they cannot “play well with others” and may not even realize it.

  2. 

    I like the candidate question suggestions!
    On a personal note, I do strive for self-awareness, but know I fall short sometimes We all know a small handful of stellar managers, right? I think for most of us there is generally room for improvement in this area. Positive reinforcement when they (I) do a good job is one way to increase this behavior 🙂

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