Executive Director's Desk - November 9, 2017

One of my favorite quotes about leadership is from Peter Drucker who said, "management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." This is so appropriate for our library leaders. Not only are you tasked with doing things right every day, you decide what are the right things to do; what collections to develop, which to weed, what programs to add, what technology to embrace. You are deciding the future by selecting what resources patrons need.
Leadership and doing the right thing is also about speaking out, stepping up and taking chances. Again this year I will be presenting a session at the MAME conference (Michigan Association of Media Specialists) on women and leadership, titled "Are We There Yet?". I'll be sharing experiences about moving out of my own comfort zone, speaking up and ultimately owning the results. Of course, the results are not always what you expect. Last year I talked about speaking out in meetings, making yourself heard and sometimes failing your way to success. This year I'll be focusing on how far women have come in the leadership realm. It isn't about male bashing. It's about recognizing where we are, where we're headed and how we get to the next step. It's about making sure we pave the way for our daughters and granddaughters as well as our sons and grandsons.
When I worked for the Michigan Department of Corrections I had the privilege of writing a newsletter that went to the 15,000 MDOC employees. One month I was working on a story about the history of the department. At the time, I worked for Pat Caruso the first female director of the Michigan prison system. When I asked how she felt about being the first female in that role she said, this isn't about me being first. I got here because the women who came before me as the first housing officers in a male facility, first prison wardens and first female supervisors fought for their opportunity and paved the way before me.
That comment made me realize how important it is that we share our experiences with those (men and women) coming up behind us. It's up to us to lead not only by example but also by being unafraid to admit we make mistakes, we can fail and ultimately be better for it. It wasn't easy last year to stand up in front of a room full of my peers and tell them how my mistakes moved me forward in my career. But I was greeted with such an enthusiast response after the session that I knew I had tapped into something important.
So this year, I'll be sharing statistics about women in leadership. Another important fact I will highlight is that hard work and excellence are important but they're not enough. I'll encourage them not to miss the opportunity to remind people what they've contributed. The second fact is the importance of networking. It allows you to share your knowledge with others and lets you learn from those who can teach you something. It also creates an important base of connections you can call and depend upon throughout your career.
It's no coincidence that leadership is my topic this month. Not only am I speaking on the subject but registration for MLA Leadership Academy opened last week. The academy is a place to build that important network and learn when and how to step out of your comfort zone - all in the relative safety of a learning environment. So, next week wish me luck. I'll be sharing my leadership successes and lessons. Remember, you win or you learn. You'll get the prize or the experience, and ultimately the experience is the prize. That last wisdom came from my Lansing State Journal daily horoscope.
MLA Leadership Academy includes nine topics presented over five days covering everything from leadership fundamentals to successfully managing the politics inherent in every library position.
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