I notice a theme when I hear librarians talk about how they became leaders and the key to becoming a leader. I’m not sure if this theme is common amongst all leaders since I’ve only really focused on being a leader within libraries and don’t read a lot on corporate leadership or in other areas. So maybe this advice only applies to the slightly introvert group that we call librarians. But what is that theme you may ask?
In our first meeting of Emerging Leaders, I walked away with the message “Be Scared Everyday and Have a Drink in Your Hands“. In the talk given by Luis Herrera at the OC REFORMA 21st Century Leadership conference over the weekend, one of the main messages I took away was “Feel the Fear But Deliver”. He emphasized over and over to challenge yourself, not be complacent, to have a vision, to take a deliberate approach to professional development. Know where you’re going and try to figure out how you’re going to get there.
But he emphasized that these goals and this leadership role you’re taking isn’t for you and your ego. It’s not for vanity. You need to use your power and prestige to create positive change within the community. That being a true leader is taking it beyond your self and into teamwork and collaboration. You don’t get to the top by yourself and once you’re there, it’s not just you that’s proud, but its those around you. Because its everyone’s accomplishment. And you have a much greater impact by being at the top and influencing change than being at the bottom and having change happen to you.
A Circle of Commitment is what he called it. An innate desire towards service. To help when and where you can and to give back what those before you gave to you. When I interviewed for my last position, they asked what one of my ultimate goals was. Did I want to be a Manager? A Library Director? I told them that I wanted to be a Youth Services Coordinator for a Library System. That at this point, that was my goal. And why. I want to be a YSC because I want to give back. I want to help train new librarians and mentor them just like those who I’ve been so fortunate to have mentor me. I want to plan on a larger scale and see what happens. I want to have vision and execute it.
Listening to Luis talk though, I wonder if I’m limiting myself. Why don’t I want to be a director of a library? Why don’t I want to be in charge of a lot of people? I tell myself that its because I don’t want to deal with budgets and politics and city councils or library boards. But am I really just being complacent in my choice? Because I feel like its something I can achieve. Something that will someday be in my grasp?
I think that only time will tell, but if I continue to live by the motto of going to work scared everyday but following through and delivering (sans the drink probably), then maybe my road will lead to something bigger than a Youth Services Coordinator. Or, maybe it won’t. Maybe that job will be as diverse and as varied and as challenging as I hope my job now will be for the next few years. At least until I’m ready to up the anti and feel the fear.