You As A Leader: Turning the Page – Week Three

Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, YOU are a leader. Sometimes you are called upon, other times, the need spontaneously arises. We are constantly involved in meaningful (e.g. advertising campaign, summer reading program) and mundane (e.g. shopping for groceries, doing the laundry) tasks that require us to apply techniques employed by leaders. As you will soon find out, whether one is an effective leader is a totally different story. Week three (3) of PLA’s library advocacy plan development seminar helped viewers (reflect on) acknowledge their personal leadership style and provided tips to becoming a more effective leader.

“The words you use, the way you walk into a room, the clothes you wear to a meeting are ALL a part of your presentation.“

It was Decided at First Glance

The clothes we choose to wear or not wear is reflective of our unique style. While there are some people who cannot imagine a life without jeans, there are others that would die without their favorite cologne. However if you are to be an effective leader you MUST acknowledge that there are expectations about how you represent yourself. While clothes do NOT represent who you are, people will use them as a way to determine your credibility. So take time and make sure that your appearance is professionally appealing. Remember, in actuality you are not only representing yourself, you are representing an institution or cause.

Beyond the First Impression

After passing the first impression test you will need to consider a few things. These all pertain to being able to clearly articulate ideas. Some obvious but important tips include:

  • Prepare ahead of time
  • Rehearse opening remarks
  • Organize presentation materials
  • Don’t forget the business cards

Influence is Key

Personal style tells your audience a lot about you and impacts the amount of influence you will have over them. Your ability to influence is also determined by what you say and how you say it. Whether you are talking to one person or thousands of people, there are things you want to keep in mind. A few things to assist you with this include:

  • Make eye contact with the audience
  • Stand up straight
  • Speak at a speed and pitch that is understandable and heard
  • Employ some natural gestures to help emphasize key points
  • Look relaxed
  • Take advantage of spontaneous opportunities (encounters).
  • Avoid being too aggressive
  • Get to the point quickly. Keep it short and sweet
  • Make the message relevant to audience.
  • Thank the individual/audience for continual support

Being able to influence one’s perceptions is not something that occurs only in boardrooms. People have the ability to exert influence in lines at the train station, at picnics and an array of other places. This statement holds true for librarians too. It is a well-known fact that people’s support of libraries correlates with how much passion they believe the librarian has for the library. So as you are employing the elements listed above don’t forget to passionately talk about the value that libraries brings to the community & why funding them is a worthwhile venture.

You’re Nothing Without Your Team

An essential responsibility of any leader is assembling and managing a team. Strong leaders are:

  • Effective communicators: Being able communicate well can help avoid confusion and will increase the chances of reaching your goal
  • Effective Mangers: Achieving this is not as much of a stretch as some like to believe. The day-to-day tasks you do in and out of the library require you to use skills exceptional leaders have. Whether it is the work you did to make sure the summer reading program got off the ground or to make sure your apartment got cleaned before your parents came over, you have been managing. Now fine tune it and you’ll be on your way.
  • Able to Take Charge While Considering Others:  Taking charge DOESN’T mean shaming others. Rather, it means helping your team explore strategies and techniques that will allow them to be effective with the greatest amount of ease.
  • Passionate [for their library]: Having passion will help people move forward when there is nowhere to move. Passion has the ability to inspire people in situations where inspiration is lost.

The best of leaders acknowledge that they cannot do it all themselves and that it is with a strong team that successes will come. When assembling your team make sure you have:

  • Someone who understands how funding works and how to get them
  • Someone who is goal orientated
  • Someone who has community ties and is able to call on them as necessary
  • Someone who is an effective communicator and can clearly convey ideas on paper and in words.

One person does not have to have all of these skills, but collectively all of these should be accounted for. Create a team that has the right blend of people who represent the total realm of skills necessary for success. It can be as little as two people, but if resources are available, do not hesitate to make it bigger.

Move Forward & Lead

Week three (3)’s webinar and self-paced two-part lesson made for plenty of information. What I provided here on leadership is only the tip of the iceberg.  Use this as a stepping stone, do NOT stop here.

If you have any comments on the contents of this post or anything to share on the topic please use the space below.

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