PLA New Lessons in Library Leadership

PLA Webinar | June 8, 2011 | ALA workshop | Updated June 15, 2011 with Leadership Resources (.pdf) and more from Chang Liu

Jennifer Wright:

  • Attended “Leading Organizational Change” (Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania)
  • Navigating white water on a kayak – don’t fear flipping over, but plan for it and learn to roll back over
  • Emotional Intelligence – how to evaluate others emotions, evaluating your own feelings, make strategies to help assist someone to reach the state you want them to achieve and learning how to manage your own feelings.
    • Example, motivated cataloging staff to process a GED book by reminding staff that a real person needs this book to take the test and change their life.
  • Work Systems Chart
    • Effecting change that will last – Start by identifying the behavior you want to change.
    • What is the goal of the change?  No goal = no way to judge success
    • Example – goal to get materials processed and into patron hands faster
    • Touch on at least 4 of these to change behavior: workplace design | organization | decision allocation | info distribution | measurement | rewards | people | task
    • Example – get new desks, put them closer together, give people more decision making ability, and measure outcomes
  • RACI charts
    • Responsibility | Authorize | Consult | Inform (can also add a Supportive role)
    • Decisions and tasks on one axis and the person or team responsible on the other axis.  Then code each person – task them based on RACI
    • Example:  What needs done (recommend titles or finalize recommendations or choose book) and Who is available to do it? (librarian or director or mayor or committee)
    • Let’s you see if you are assigning work that’s already being done or if there’s a task that needs to be assigned. – Too many R’s = too many decision makers v. Too few R’s = no one responsible for getting the project done
    • Too many A’s can mean it’s very political and Too few would mean not enough support for success
    • One person has too many Rs could mean overwork!
    • Take home task idea: Identify staff meeting agendas by RACI letter

Chang Liu:

  • Attended “Senior Executives in State and Local Government” (Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government)
  • Used case study method – written description of a problem or situation that contains only facts, not analysis or conclusion. “This method is useful whenever decision-making must be derived from skillful analysis, choice, and persuasion.”
  • Lessons on:
    • Political Management – focus too much on professional management, but the higher up you are, the more you need to pay attention to the political relationships.  Complexities of working with elected officials, creating partnerships and working as closely with opponents as with supporters.  Keep friends close and enemies closer.  Understand the various agendas and hidden agendas.  Be a problem solver.  Don’t neglect small signs of opposition (new building – public meeting has one voice of dissent – any signs of opposition, tune in and try to hear real issues).
    • Negotiations – multi-party negotiations and identifying high-power and low-power negotiators.  Best alternatives, “mutually beneficial/improving relationships” (get more information about what each party wants – orange example – one wants the seeds, the other wants the rind),  try to get all parties involved more of what each wants, and “If you are a low-power player, negotiate first to set the stage” so you are not neglected or ostracized (show interest and engagement).
    • Working with the Media – understand, appreciate and respect their role.  Work with, not against them.  Think before you speak. OK to say, “let me look into that and get back to you.” Answer the question you wish they had asked. Be a ‘source.’ Don’t worry so much about the ‘bad story’ and beware of the impulse to correct (Source – Cambridge Leadership Associates LLC)  Example – Mary Dempsey at Chicago – articulating value of libraries in the community.  Bad story turned triumphant.  Focus on positive and forgive minor mistakes.
    • Emotions and Decisions – Science/computer based Lab at Harvard and the Emotion and Decision Making Group (researcher is Jennifer Lerner) – studying how extent of emotions effects decision making and judgment.
      • Beware of strong, negative emotions and their impact on your decision-making ability, especially anger and fear.
      • Research shows Fear and Anger have opposing effects on risk estimates, meaning fear increases perception of risk and anger decreases peoples estimates of risk – when fearful, you tend to be overly  conservative but when angry, you feel you have no fear and can take too much risk. (Emotional intelligence)
      • Understand the concept of ‘sunken cost.’ – Cost that has already taken place and has no future impact – need to separate these.  “Already spent the money on a ticket, so I must go even though I’m sick” – why?? Don’t worry about these sunken costs.
      • Realize that people are more motivated by the fear of lost than the prospect of gain.  Research shows WHY people are afraid of change…they are afraid of the loss.
    • Authentic Discussions = open to changing your own perspective.  Have to have an open mind during discussions.
    • Leadership on the Line – Leadership book by Ronald Heifetz – Recommended by Chang
    • “Few people are persuaded rationally until they are persuaded emotionally.” Ronald David (Faculty)
    • “Leadership is about disappointing your own people at the rate they can absorb.” Marty Linsky (Faculty)
Denise Lyons:
  • Attended “Executive Management Program” (Evans School of Public Affairs, University of Washington)
  • Case method, study groups, discussions and presentations and an action plan
  • (She’s reading her presentation and that really annoys me.  Comes across as “ho hum, I don’t really care about what I’m talking about.”)
  • Take aways –
    • Strategic triangle – Feasibility, Support and Public Value (Mark Moore from Harvard created this)  Incorporate this in meetings and decision making process.
    • Storytelling – new and important role for non-profits.  Narrative = advocating policy, changing attitudes, explaining decisions and defending budgets.  Make sure your organization has a clear message and good story
    • Negotiation – the purpose is to reach agreement (getting to yes).  Identify the players, power, interest base and importance of relationships.  BATNA: Best alternative to negotiating agreement if you cannot agree.  Library advocacy – get out of our comfort zone and recruit advocates.
  • Future library leaders may not be ‘traditional librarians.’
  • Learn from other experts in other fields
  • Competencies: navigating communities | navigating self | navigating organizations | cross cutting abilities
  • Ideas for engagement – articulate what we do, know who to involve…
  • Management is about technical change but leadership is about impactful, emotional change – must be persuaded emotionally first.
  • Leadership training for the isolated?  Online or local/community -based leadership groups (I took the Southern Leavenworth County Leadership group before attending MPLA Leadership Institute)
  • How do you share with staff and empower them?  Meet with staff and go through your take-aways with them (debriefing), disseminate info, incorporate lessons into meetings, where is the binder?, have sessions with staff.
I want to listen to the archive and hear the rest of what Chang Lui said and read up on Jennifer Lerner and her research.  I think I have a low EQ, so anything I can do to compensate for that would be beneficial.  As to the other speakers, I was underwhelmed – the information from Maureen and Mary in my MPLA Leadership Institute binder is just as useful.  Granted, I do see a benefit of a cross-pollinated leadership class, which MPLA wasn’t unless you count special, academic and public librarians as cross-pollination. The Fred Pryor “Dealing with Difficult People” seminar I attended several years ago was fantastic in part because it had a mix of corporate, blue collar, non-profit, and government workers.

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