Drawing of bullseye rendering of Ring Theory for Leaders

For leaders, it’s more like “comfort in” and “dump out.”

The Ring Theory of Kvetching has been all over my Facebook and Twitter feeds these last few months, shared over and over again as a guide for avoiding saying the wrong thing to a person in crisis. The concept is that you put the person in crisis at the center, then draw concentric rings representing close family, close friends, colleagues…with each successive ring representing people who are further from the central person. The idea is that you send “comfort in” towards the person at the center, and “dump out” anger, frustration, fears to the outer circles.

It struck me that the Ring Theory is backwards for leaders. If the leader of an organization is at the center, with concentric rings rippling out to represent colleagues, trustees, stakeholders, and patrons, then the Ring Theory for Leaders becomes “comfort out” and “dump in.” I know that I spend a lot of my time putting comfort out to my coworkers, my board, my partners, and my patrons, while taking in their concerns, opinions, complaints, and suggestions.

You see the problem, right? Where does a leader find balance in this scenario? To whom does the leader turn for comfort in the face of a lot of dumping? For me, it points out the need–the requirement–for leaders to network with their counterparts in other organizations. It drives home the truth that there are few, if any, people in the organization itself who can provide that kind of comfort and understanding to the leader. I think it’s important to have a  network of managers and directors at other libraries, people who will understand your struggles and provide support when you need it, so that you can provide support to them in turn. Most importantly, having a network outside of your organization will help you continue to provide “comfort out” while dealing with the “dump in.”


Oatmeal is Good for You

The-OatmealIt’s very dangerous to read The Oatmeal at work.  Matthew Inman’s hilarious and irreverent online comic has been known to induce spit takes that can ruin a desktop computer.  His brand of humor is definitely not to be shared in storytime, but that does not mean you can’t learn from the unique wisdom within the comic strip.

Recently the post titled How to Get More Likes on Facebook caused me to rethink how libraries should use the social media tool to gain a following.  Have you wallpapered your library website with Facebook icons?  Do you pander to your patrons for “Likes”?  These moves will most likely cause your fans to think you are desperate for attention.  Inman suggests that instead of begging for attention, use that energy to actually do something “likeable.”  Craft posts that are “hilarious, sad, beautiful, interesting, inspiring or simply awesome” like:

  • Book Haul videos
  • Impromptu patron interviews
  • Vine videos about the library
  • Behind the scenes pics of staff having fun
  • Interesting facts and trivia

Setting aside all the insidious reasons Facebook exists, it is an inexpensive (practically FREE) way to market to your patrons.  It is one of the best ways to promote what the library is doing in a less traditional marketing way.  If patrons always encounter a plea for attention when they visit your Facebook page you’ll eventually drive them to “unfriend” you.  Remember Inman’s sage advice when it comes to posting on Facebook, “More tanks.”