4 School Library Management inherently limit our work to what we can personally control. It will be our learners, other educators, and our school communities that will pay the price for that limitation. Defining Leadership What exactly is leadership? Not knowing what it entails is probably the first and most common barrier to librarians’ taking it on. Depending on our experiences, many of us understand leadership the way it’s presented in pop culture, which comes with assumptions of formal supervision, control and power, and aggressive and unpleasant personalities—none of which were things we wanted when we went into librarianship! A little research on leadership reveals a slightly more pal- atable but no less intimidating barrage of advice about change management, vision and mission statements, hiring and retaining personnel, fiscal responsibil- ity, and performance evaluations—again, probably not the type of tasks librarians really want, and perhaps not things we feel able to control. Most school leaders will tell you that what leadership is NOT about is being in charge. Instead, it’s more nearly about forming a team and about making it possible for the whole team to lean in and get the work (often the “dirty work”) done. Most librarians will be leading from the middle, instead of from the top as administrators do. In this middle-out leadership style, the team might not be par- ticularly formal. In fact, it may be so loose that its members don’t even know they’re part of a group! They will, however, know they are collaborating and con- tributing to work that is made better by the efforts of everyone involved. Occasion- ally, for a librarian who is used to operating as a solo act, this informal leadership may feel frustrating in the short run, it can feel like some tasks would be faster just to do on one’s own. In the long run, though, having a whole team invested in decisions and work that are important to the library will pay dividends. By ceding a little bit of personal control and redirecting that energy into leading others, librarians are building toward a more powerful way of working that is not only big- ger than what they can accomplish on their own, but also bigger than what can be contained within the library’s four walls or what most people perceive as belonging to the library. Leadership from the middle can fundamentally change how the library is seen, used, and valued. Identifying as a Leader As many styles of leadership exist as do people. And while there are some gener- ally accepted end goals for strong leadership, there are infinite ways to reach those goals, using the strengths of each individual leader. This is excellent news for the librarian who is newly stepping into a leadership role! Deciding what style of lead- ership will be a good fit for you is a matter of reflecting on your natural strengths and tendencies, matching them against those of the people around you, and figur- ing out how to harness them all to best accomplish the work that needs to be done. To more clearly see and reflect on your personal strengths and tendencies, it can be helpful to take one or more personality inventories or tests. These are hardly fail-safe and should not be considered scientific indicators of your destiny! However, since people are complicated, having a framework as a reflection tool and conversation starter can make it a little simpler to approach understanding our- selves and each other. There are many options of personality inventories online and in books. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is perennial, with everything from serious career
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