Leadership is a journey without an end. You are either growing or dying. So how do you continue to grow? Like everything you face in life, it’s a matter of choices.
Consciously or not, many librarians have sadly made the choice not to lead, but for those who have taken steps along that road, after each new step is in place, you want to be looking at where you want to go next. There are many ways to continue your growth, so choose the directions that best meet your needs.
Three weeks ago, I blogged about Leading Larger, suggesting you consider becoming more active at the state and/or the national level. While actively participating in these associations are the most obvious steps, you might consider moving out of the librarian silo. For example, at one point in my career, I became the union rep for the high school. I did it primarily to be in a position to advocate for the union’s support for the librarians in the district. It was an effective move because it strengthened my relationships with teachers, but not one I enjoyed. For those of you who do like it, it’s a wonderful way for informing your teaching colleagues of the contributions school librarians at all grade levels make to students and the whole educational community. You might even become the union president. Those of you who work in states where unions are not permitted don’t have this choice, but you can find other options.
You can join organizations such as the International Reading Association or ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development). The latter includes many administrators. While the journals of both are excellent, to grow your leadership you need to become active at least in your state association’s affiliate. If you have an affinity for a particular subject area, you can choose its national or state association to join and become an active member.
Beyond those possibilities, there are other ways to continue growing as a leader and some are fairly simple. Marlene Chism in a SmartBrief on Leadership discussed “7 Signs You Are Growing.” You should find it reassuring to see how many ways you continue to grow.
The first sign she writes about is “Your beliefs are still evolving.” We all have our personal belief system while we also internalize the beliefs of our profession. With the hate speech and violence making headlines, librarians everywhere are looking at the ALA Code of Ethics and Library Bill of Rights to determine when if ever certain types of speech are not acceptable in a library. In the discussions being held within ALA and on various Facebook pages, school and other librarians are keeping an open mind and are prepared for shifts in beliefs as they come to their conclusions.
The second sign of leadership growth is the ability to see different points of view. Although it connects to the first sign, it also is a constant within the school setting. If you are to build relationships with teachers and administrators, you must be able to accept their perspective on a situation and work from there without judgment.
Third is the willingness to stop unproductive habits. This one is challenging. (I’ve mentioned my Klondike solitaire habit, right?) You might be willing, but doing so is not easy. If you want to work on this, pick just one that you think is keeping you from being as effective as you want to be. When does it appear and why? What actions can you take to deal with it? Don’t expect to be perfect while making the change. A habit is a habit and it takes work to do something differently.
Chism’s fourth sign is, “You consciously build productive habits.” This is the flip side of the third sign and is somewhat easier to do. Again, just choose one habit you would like to acquire. For me, it’s not checking Facebook before getting productive work done.
Next is “You grow thicker skin.” It’s natural to take negative comments personally, but it won’t help you as a leader. Learn to focus on the message, not the method of delivery. In growing as a leader you build your self-confidence and you are no longer intimidated by others. You trust your skills and abilities.
The sixth sign is “You achieve more than you thought possible.” Have you launched a successful Makerspace or other projects? Did you get a teacher who barely used the library to collaborate with you? Did you serve on a committee and discover the other members valued your input? You find yourself thinking, “Did I really do that?” You look back at where you were a few years go and realize the person you were then would be stunned to see what you have done.
Finally, “Your definition of success changes.” The more you grow, the more you see other larger goals to reach for. The other six signs inevitably move you to aspire to greater things – and you go after them.
Are you growing as a leader? Where do you want to
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