Little Green Librarian

Blogging my way through a Masters in Teacher Librarianship at CSU!

Feeling it: Leadership from the library

October6

Image of a woman meditating.

One of the big ideas I have been grappling with this semester is what it looks and feels like to fulfil the leadership role of the teacher librarian.

At the beginning of this year, I didn’t really have any concept of what it meant to be a leader in the library, which you can see reflected in one of my very early blog posts for my introductory subject (Roach, 2014, March 23). In this post, I do make mention of the leadership role, but very quickly gloss over it to discuss other, more familiar roles!

At the beginning of the leadership subject, with a few readings under my belt, I realised that I did have some ideas about what leadership in the library is about, which I included in a blog post (Roach, 2014, July 14). I knew vaguely what kind of leader I wanted to be, visionary but realistic, but had very little frame of reference to discuss it.

Just over a month later, my Assignment 1 blog post demonstrated some clear ideas about avenues a teacher librarian can take to demonstrate leadership throughout the school community (Roach, 2014, August 24).

It amazes me that in such a short space of time, I progressed so far in my ideas about leadership – from having no idea, to having vague ideas, to having clearly articulated ideas! Still, there is certainly more to leadership for a teacher librarian than a few suggestions about how to seek it out, which brings me to where I am now.

Since August, my focus has been on exploring the depths of leadership from the library. Not only what it looks like, but what it feels like and what it truly means. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. Leadership from the library begins with vision.

In order to lead, you need to know where you are going! Developing a broad vision of what you want the school library to become under your leadership is a crucial step in determining how to proceed. Further, it is important to consider what aspects of that vision are negotiable and non-negotiable (Bentley, Pavey, Shaper, Todd & Webb, 2009, p.17). This will allow the teacher librarian to take a stronger position when navigating through discussions about the vision.

2. Leadership from the library is about influence.

If teacher librarians want to lead change within the school, the most effective way to do so is through influencing colleagues. This is sometimes referred to as ‘leading from the middle’ and it is one of the only avenues available for those who are not appointed to be leaders (Haycock, 2010, p.2). Ideally, the appointed leaders of the school will understand your vision and will work with you to see it achieved, but the reality is far more unpredictable. Influence can occur through collaboration with teachers, participation on committees, consistent professional conduct and through contributing to school-wide discussions about pedagogy.

3. Leadership from the library is about knowing who you are.

I am an introvert by nature, which means that social interaction is draining for me, while time alone is energising. It does not mean that I am shy or that I don’t like being with people, which is what many extroverts take it to mean. Much of the literature has a bias toward extroversion, suggesting that the traits of extroverts are more conducive to leadership and that introverts ought to become more like extroverts if they want to lead (Haycock, 2010, p.9). Emerging research, however, refutes this claim, suggesting that extroverts lead best when followers are passive, while introverts lead best when followers are proactive (Grant, Gino & Hofmann, 2011, p.536). Since discovering this, I have come to realise that being true to my nature is the best way that I can lead, particularly as I want those I lead to be proactive! This is not to say that I will never need to improve or work at my leadership abilities, rather that I can trust my intuition when it tells me to listen instead of speak, or spend some time alone pondering a particularly tricky issue. Knowing who I am allows me to be the best leader I can be, rather than trying to be something I’m not.

While my learning journey and conclusions about leadership may be different to others, I feel infinitely more secure about where I am going as a leader now than I did even a few months ago. This subject and the texts I was inspired to find and read because of it, have helped me to feel confident about my leadership style and have piqued my interest in further exploring the teacher librarian’s leadership role within the school.

 

References

Bentley, E., Pavey, S., Shaper, S., Todd, S. & Webb, C. (2009). Professionalism and the school librarian. In S. Markless (Ed.), The innovative school librarian: Thinking outside the box (pp.1-24). London: Facet.

Grant, A.M., Gino, F. & Hofmann, D.A. (2011). Reversing the extraverted leadership advantage: The role of employee proactivity. Academy of Management Journal, 54(3), 528-550. doi: 10.5465/AMJ.2011.61968043

Haycock, K. (2010). Leadership from the middle: Building influence for change. In S. Coatney (Ed.), The many faces of school library leadership (pp.1-12). Santa Barbara, California: Libraries Unlimited.

Roach, K. (2014, March 23). The role of the teacher librarian [blog post]. Retrieved from: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/littlegreenlibrarian/2014/03/23/the-role-of-the-teacher-librarian/

Roach, K. (2014, July 14). Following the leader [blog post]. Retrieved from: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/littlegreenlibrarian/2014/07/14/following-the-leader/

Roach, K. (2014, August 24). Leading from the school library [blog post]. Retrieved from: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/littlegreenlibrarian/2014/08/24/leading-from-the-school-library/

 

Image source: Meditation by Nemo. Public Domain. http://pixabay.com/en/yoga-meditate-meditation-exercise-309782/

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