I was talking with someone recently and said my Vision is that every librarian is living as a leader or working to be a bigger leader. We won’t be successful until we are all successful. Yes, I know that’s a tall order. Like any Vision, it may never fully happen, but by working toward it, I will get closer than I would without it. To that end, today’s blog, like several in the past few weeks, is intended to help you notice where you may be holding yourself back. When we notice what’s getting in our way, we are more likely and able to make a change. Because there is no option. You must become a leader.
Back in 2015 I first wrote about The Stories We Tell Ourselves as being a barrier we have put in our way. I followed it up last year with More Stories – we are very creative in finding ways to avoid being a leader. Two weeks ago, I asked Are You the Problem? to show how we get in our way by our habits and attitudes. Barriers, whether big or small, don’t get erected overnight. It will take time to dismantle many of these, but my hope is that on a deep level, you recognize the truth about being a leader. You realize that you are likely the one that has stopped you and now you must be willing to learn how to get out of your own way.
Your situation is not unique. Many people find ways to avoid becoming leaders. But in any profession, that avoidance keeps you from being as successful as you can and need to be. , Today I am referencing Lolly Daskins who offers six ways How You Can Break Through Your Own Leadership Limits.
Change the lens through which you view yourself – For most people our self-image is rooted in our past. Before I went to Weight Watchers, I would be surprised and unhappy when I caught my reflection in a window. I thought I was thinner than that. For several years after I lost fifty pounds, I was startled when I saw my reflection. I thought I was heavier than that.
A long time ago, a well-know library colleague of mine was despondent. He lost a job he had held for a quarter of a century and was moving to a new state. I told him he would be very much appreciated in his new position. When I saw him six months later, he was beaming. I had been right. Not only had his former employer took him for granted, but he had also taken himself for granted, not seeing how much he had grown and learned on the job until he had a better one.
Know what you need to change – No, the answer is not “everything.” Do a self-analysis using SOAR. What are your Strengths? What Opportunities exist for demonstrating those strengths? What are your Aspirations? In other words, what are you most passionate about? What would want to achieve? What Results are you looking for? Look at your answers and made some decisions. When you get specific you get better results.
Be willing to do the work – Now that you know what you want to achieve, commit to working towards getting your aims. Put in start dates for what you are going to do and end dates (remembering to be flexible because the unexpected will happen). This will keep you honest. Remember, if you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always had. Be ready to do something different.
Identify and remove any obstacles standing in your way – Some of these obstacles are real. Time, budgets, resources. Others are the familiar barriers – the stories you have told yourself. Look at them realistically. Are they really true? Sure, there are truthful aspects to them, but if they are important –and they are – you know you can figure a way around them. The same is probably true about stretching your budget, finding new resources, and better allocating your time.
Leverage your limits – This means taking a hard look at your weaknesses. How can they be used? Get yourself a mentor. Working on a weakness will strengthen you and give you confidence. It will make you better understand yourself as a person. You are a combination of your strengths and weaknesses. Too often you focus only on the weaknesses but focusing only on strengths can be equally unhelpful. It blinds you to what might trip you up. You can also consider this a good place for collaboration. Is there a teacher who is great with detail and you’re a big picture person? Working together will use both your strengths.
Lead from within – Daskin says this is about leading from your potential rather than your limits. I also believe it means building your self-confidence and leading from the middle. It’s amazing what you can do to lead as a member of a committee. You don’t have to be the chair to lead. If you have a clear vision of where a group wants/needs to go or if you understand the vision set out by the committee head, you can help ease the path, simplify choices, and make everyone’s job easier.
Leadership shows up in many ways. Be alert to the possibilities and notice the noise in your head that may be holding you back. Put new, positive voices in its place and then you will always be prepared to lead.