Lankes makes the point in this Thread that much of what we do as librarians is about process, not product. Because process takes time and because protracted journeys provide a lot of opportunity for distraction and wrong turns, one or more professionals need to lead the party from point A to point Z. Enter librarians. Leadership is presented as a duty of librarians. Duty or not, Christopher Raab (2009) says leadership is a skill that does not come naturally to many librarians. Our skills of organization make us natural managers, but “librarians sometimes have difficulty inspiring people and recognizing opportunities to lead.” Raab continues by describing the R.O.L.L. Matrix, a device intended to aid academic librarians in the identification of leadership opportunities.
In the forest/trees debate, a leader has to come down squarely in the camp of the forest. A leader has to see the big picture and care for the overall health of the vision. Accordingly, a leader must be concerned with individual practices (trees) insofar as these practices affect the larger forest. Maybe deforestation is a practice or maybe another practice leads to blight, but in the end the concern is for the whole. Others may care for individual parts.
Ammons-Stephens et al. (2009) contribute to the discussion of leadership in libraries by breaking leadership down into its component parts. They argue that libraries are successful if they are run by successful librarians, and so they propose to look at outputs and competencies as a means of developing leadership. The authors identify the core competencies as cognitive ability, vision, interpersonal effectiveness, and managerial effectiveness. Each core competency is then subdivided and the attribute itself defined. For example, one attribute of interpersonal effectiveness is accountability, defined as:
• Instills trust in others and self
• Leads by example
• Assumes responsibility for decisions made
It is hoped that competency models will help to cultivate leadership skills in librarians.
Because leadership is so important, to what extent do librarians, particularly young librarians, want to take on leadership roles? De- Long (2009) asked just this question of new professionals in Canada. She conducted a study with statistically significant findings showing that young librarians are interested in leadership roles. DeLong concludes that the profession should recognize and tap this interest.
Where does personality stop and duty start?
Ammons-Stephens, S., Cole, H. J., et al. (2009). Developing core leadership competencies for the library profession. Library Leadership & Management, 23(2), 63–74.
DeLong, K. (2009). The engagement of new library professionals in leadership. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 35(5), 445–456.
Frost, C. (2005). Library leaders. Knowledge Quest, 33(5), 41–42.
Mosley, P. A. (2009). Perspectives on leadership in LLAMA: A round table interview with Paul Anderson, Teri Switzer, and Nicole Cavallero. Library Leadership & Management, 23(2), 60–79.
Raab, C. (2009). Recognizing opportunities for library leadership. Library Leadership & Management, 23(2), 80–84.