Yesterday, I flew into Portland for day 1 of the 2010 PLA National Conference. This is my third time attending PLA and I’m especially excited about this one because I served on the programming committee. I hope the people who attend the conference go back to their libraries full of ideas, inspiration, and excitement about the future of libraries.
Day 1 for me started with an early morning flight to PDX and a free ride to downtown Portland on the Max light rail. After checking in, I immediately headed over to the “Changing Course: Leadership for Navigating the New Library” preconference program where I helped setup and check participants in. The nice thing is that I got to sit in on the entire program, which normally wouldn’t be possible because it’s only open to people who have been in management positions for at least five years. The program was organized by a PLA Leadership Task Force and led by Adam Goodman, who is the director of the Center for Leadership at Northwestern University. I liked his approach, which seems to be guiding individuals to identify the leadership principles important to them and their libraries. Here are some bullet points based on comments made by the participants, facilitators, and Adam:
- leaders should have a versatile portfolio of abilities
- ask yourself, “What’s the work that I need to be doing differently as a leader? not the library, but you personally?
- libraries are conceived in an institutional context, but at the end of the day, the question is who and what is the community investing in? ppl will want to invest in ppl.
- when venture capitalists look to invest, they look to invest in two things: the idea and the people
- cross-cutting abilities: anticipate and lead change (know your community), and recognize and grow potential in others
- KEY: importance of navigating communities, which is a learned skill
- manage your hunger for change: make the right decisions for the right reasons
- develop a “personal board of directors,” consisting of mentors and coaches who you like, trust, and know care about you. it’s difficult to see yourself honestly, so you need a peer and mentor network
- align what you think with what you say with what you do
- uncover and validate existing cultures and values when stepping into a new situation
- need to create a unified vision before enacting change
- open communication and involving all stakeholders is crucial
- when trying to build credibility and support, common mistake is to try to hit a grand slam. better way is to do it with multiple smaller wins.
- take time to get to know people before articulating a vision
- listen first
- ask, don’t tell
- communicate your library’s story (vision) repeatedly. takes more than once
The group discussed a couple of case studies, including one called “Welcome Aboard (But Don’t Change a Thing)” written by Eric McNulty (Harvard Business Review, October 2002). I think it’s the perfect case study for any library right now because it deals with fundamental questions of how change happens, or doesn’t happen.
After the preconference, I went to a tweetup, had dinner, and visited Powell’s bookstore with @jdscott50. A good first day!