Session 104: Leadership Lessons: Tools to Guide You and Words to Inspire You

Session 104: Leadership Lessons: Tools to Guide You and Words to Inspire You
Guest author Gabrielle Spiers


Ann Hodges – Director of Grants and Research, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries: Why Didn’t They Tell Me This Ten Years Ago? Things I Wish I Had Known When I was a New Leader.

The first presentation focused on a lot of tools that they were given during the leadership training so I have provided links to them so people can look at them in their own time.

In 2012 there was a massive reorganization of the library and the staff so it was decided that the leadership team would go to leadership training together. The team was made up of the old leadership team as well as new leadership so half the team was new members. The purpose of the leadership training was that they would all get to know more about each other to work at a group. This happened in three ways

  • Testing – both group and individual
  • Theory and concepts
  • Exercises

One of the key aspects of leadership is being accountable for both the intended and unintended consequences of your choices.

The first tool that Ann talked about was the Thomas-Kilmann conflict mode instrument which assesses conflict-handling behavior. Some of the questions that this asks are

  • What is more important? Relationship or outcome
  • What are you trying to do?
  • How are you trying to do it?

Then she went through the five possible responses to conflict which are collaboration, competing, compromising and accommodating. All of these can be useful in different situations. There is a difference between being effective and being right.

She also discussed what is known as amygdala hijacking which is an emotional response to a threatening situation and the best ways to avoid doing that. For example stop and don’t speak, take deep breaths because controlling emotions increases control of the situation and makes it less likely you will say something you regret.

Ann also discussed the RASIN or RACI method which is a tool that helps to identify rules and responsibilities during organizational change. It is a way of identifying and making clear who is in charge of what and is divided up into categories.

Finally Ann endued with talking about several things that she thought leaders must do. They must have group conversations, establish trust, name the elephant in the room and agree on a clear purpose. This can be accomplished by being open, willing to listen and willing to speak up. Sometimes speaking up takes courage because people want to know why and what is in it for them?

 

Brenda S. McClurkin – Department Head, Special Collections, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries: Expect the Unexpected: Stepping up During a Shaking-up

She became the Head of Special Collections after  a move and the staff was reconfigured. She knew that she needed to get to know the team members so she started asking them to describe a “sweet spot” when everything is working very well and they feel like they are doing their absolute best.

The leadership training that she got was really an insight into how to deal with change. Doing things differently requires careful thinking. We can all recite the alphabet but reciting the alphabet backwards is trickier. We know it but it isn’t how we are used to thinking about it.

Brenda also talked about the change curve and said that she felt it was her job as a leader to manage the depth and duration of the curve especially after the inevitable bottoming out. She mentioned that it is important for a leader to be upbeat and positive in front of the staff.  Whatever she was feeling internally she kept to herself in the workplace because as a boss she didn’t feel like she should be complaining to her staff.

Brenda mentioned the Ladder of Inference to help reach decisions by thinking them through rather than jumping to conclusions. It is beneficial to pause and ask what else could be true.

Brenda’s final thought was that it is important to assume best intent in people.

 

Lisa Mix – Head, Medical Center Archives, New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center: Lean In, Take On, Reach Out! Lessons from a Reluctant Library Director

Lisa started off by talking about how nervous she was when she found out her boss was moving to Australia because she was worried about what her new boss was going to be like. She was not expecting her boss’s boss to ask her to step in and be the Interim Head. She went from managing a staff of one with a modest budget to a staff of 30 with a multimillion dollar budget.

Her boss believed in her and that is why she got promoted.  She mentions in  Sheryl Sandburg’s book Lean In  men are promoted for potential and women are promoted for achievements. The interesting thing is that she knew that this was going to be a temporary position and that she was not going to want to do this permanently. But temporarily this seemed like a good opportunity for professional growth.

Her suggestion was to be prepared and mentioned the  Archives Leadership Institute as a way that you can do that.  Also the question “what would you do if you weren’t afraid?” She also adds that you should not be afraid to act like a leader.

Lisa mentioned that there were two books that have been very helpful to her.  Choosing Civility by P.M. Forni and Dave Barry’s Book of Bad Songs by Dave Barry because when the first one is hard to do then the second one is good to get a laugh. She mentions how important it is to not forget to laugh and have fun but also to trust and respect important values.

There were questions from the audience and the final pieces of advice were to have a sanctuary. Take time to learn and to let everything go that way you can take back what is important.  Pick your deadlines. Some deadlines are more important than others. This goes back to Ann’s point about intended versus unintended consequences.

The last piece of advice is that done is better than perfect.

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