blog banner

A Day in the Life of a Leader: Part 1


>>I would like to welcome everyone
to the first in our webinar series on the Day in the Life of a Leader. We have gotten a fabulous response
nationally and internationally, so we are very pleased that you are here today. My name is Dr. Susan Alman, and I,
along with Dr. Cheryl Stenstrom, have put this webinar series together, and we’ve
got some really exciting individuals speaking with us today and for three weeks in April,
so please join us for each of these sessions. This session will be recorded. It will be available on our YouTube site,
and there will be a link on the School of Information sciences’ webpage so that you’ll
be able to get to it, so I will turn everything over to Dr. Stenstrom, and then we will begin.>>Thank you, Dr. Alman. We coach here at the school of information
at San Jose State University’s Leadership and Management Advisory Committee, so each of
our subject areas has outside advice committee. And that committee, the Leadership Management
one, has spoken to us many times about the need for the School of Information to help
students see a path towards management and management careers, and one of their ideas
was that having a view into a typical day in the life of a leader might be useful both for
students and for those considering signing up and perhaps attending an MLIS program. So here we are today, and I’m thrilled to
welcome the first in our 12-part series, and I will introduce to you Dana
Vanzanten and Heather Robinson in just a moment as Dr. Alman said. We’re going to do the presentation and
have time at the end for questions. Today’s unique format– we’re going to do an
interview-style presentation with questions and answers with both of our guest speakers. And before I introduce them, I would just like
to give a very special thanks to Kim Dority and Jill Klees at the San Jose State
University Career Center who helped Dr. Alman and I put together some of
the content and background for this series once our
committee had suggested it. So on we go. If we can go to the next slide, please. Our two speakers today are Dana
Vanzanten and Heather Robinson. Dana and I know each other quite well. She is a current student at
the school of information in San Jose, however, lives in Ontario. We share that we’re both Canadian, but we
met in class a couple semesters ago and she’s since gone on to do an in-depth study
on advocacy at her home library, which is St. Thomas Public Library in Ontario. Her title is manager of advocacy and community
development, and, prior to taking that on, she worked as a library assistant
and a library services coordinator within the St. Thomas Public Library. Before entering the library world and continuing
to pursue her education by getting her MLIS, she had received her bachelor of arts
and a master of arts in philosophy. Heather Robinson works with Dana. She’s the CEO of the St. Thomas Public Library
in Ontario, Canada, and she’s been working there for 20 years in a variety of roles, including
manager’s team and children services, manager of fundraising and community
development, public services librarian, and was seconded to be the project
coordinator for the renovation of their library building in 2011. So, indeed, a little bit of
everything at that library [laughs]. Heather started her career as a page in London,
Ontario at the public library when she was 14 and went on to work in Toronto; Kingston,
Ontario, at the public libraries there after she graduated from library school before
coming to St. Thomas, and she was nominated as the Ontario Library Association’s
Children Librarian of the Year in 2004. So thank you so much to both of you
for being here and agreeing to join us for the kickoff of our four-part series.>>[Inaudible] thank you.>>Without further ado, so I think we’ll go to
the next slide and start off on our interview, and we’ll get to know you a
bit through our questions.>>Absolutely.>>Okay, so, Dana, I think we’ll start with you. I’ll ask you some questions about being a
leader, and then maybe you can pass that over to Heather, and the first question is
“Before you were in a leadership role, did you have any hesitations about
moving into this level of responsibility? How did you handle that, and, once you
became a leader, what surprised you, if anything, about your new role?”>>Oh, okay. Thank you. First of all, thanks so much
for having both of us here. We’re really excited about the opportunity, and
it’s nice to be chatting with you again, Cheryl. So before I was in this leadership role,
moving up within the same organization that I’d worked in for quite a few years. Because we are a unionized organization,
one of my immediate concerns, actually, was moving outside the union. I’d become quite used to working in that
environment and the sort of the constraints and the supports that it provided. But I did find that my nervousness
about that was fairly quickly allayed because of the supportive nature of
the management team that I joined. So that was definitely a concern that was very
real for me but one that was quickly put to rest by the working environment I found myself in. I did also wonder, because, again, I worked my
way up through the organization that started in, if a move to management would change
my relationships with my coworkers. I’d become quite close with some
of them, and I’d worked with a lot of them for about eight years or so. So I would say, I mean, I’ve been in this
management role for just over a year now, and the relationships have changed. I think, at the beginning, I thought
that not a lot about it would change, that I’d be able to sort of maintain
my chummy relationships with people. And while we’re still on, for
the most part, excellent terms, there’s definitely some boundary-setting
work that has to happen when you move into a management role, and you sort of
become more aware of different levels that things are working on within the
organization that you need to be aware of when you’re interacting with people. And I think that that’s something that took
me by surprise and that required a fair amount of mentorship from my coworkers
on the management team, but it’s also been a real opportunity for
growth for me, both personally and in this role. So, again, that was something
that was an immediate concern, but that’s been something that’s provided, yeah, a growth opportunity and,
yeah, it’s been rewarding. And sort of the other sort of immediate
concern that I had was the level of increased responsibility, because
although I’d worked here for eight years, my role as a library assistant had
a certain amount of responsibility, but joining the management team, you’re
helping to lead the direction of the library. You’re managing staff. There’s a lot more that goes along with that. But I found that I actually really enjoyed
being part of the decision-making process. I still enjoy that. I enjoy hearing what my coworkers
have to say, learning from them. I enjoy kind of finding my own voice, expressing
that and the feedback that I get about that. As I said before, it’s the kind of team
where there’s a lot of collaboration, there’s a lot of honest feedback, but there’s
also a lot of encouragement, and, again, it’s been an opportunity for growth for me. So I think if I was surprised by anything, it’s by how much I’ve actually
enjoyed the increased responsibility and enjoyed the opportunities that have come
along with that, because I was, at first, somewhat intimidated by that, I’ll admit. So I guess that’s my perspective,
and I’ll hand it over to Heather.>>Thanks, Dana [laughs]. And I would say a resounding, “Yes” to being
hesitant about moving into the CEO role. I mean, I have had leadership roles
right from the beginning of my career, including, you know, even on my co-op. When I did a co-op out of library school,
I was in Toronto, and it just so happened that the children’s librarian left, and, all of
a sudden, I was in that role until I graduated. So it wasn’t the leadership part of
it that was really frightening to me. It was all of a sudden, you
know, being in charge of it all, and I think that I was extremely
apprehensive about the budgeting part of it. Even though I had been used to
taking care of parts of the budgets, I’d never been in charge of the whole budget. But the former CEO, she had worked
with me on courses, on budgeting, because she knew that that
was one of my apprehensions. That had really helped, and she’d put
together a CEO binder of what to expect when you were a CEO, and I have to be honest. Up until two weeks before
the applications were due, and they did have a process
whereby they went national. They put the posting out for
anybody who wanted to apply for it. Up until two weeks, I still was unsure. And it was finally a call from
the board chair saying, “Heather, you are going to apply for
this position, right?” that really pushed me forward,
and I said, “Okay, you know, Heather what do you have to lose?” And you might lose, and that,
in my mind, was okay. I think that I could have coped with that. So that’s really my journey to being the CEO. As far as once I became a leader, what surprised
me is– if it’s okay to go onto that question. What I found was that you basically
take every day as it comes, so I have to tell this funny story about my
first, very first day as CEO, very first day. We had a sewage backup in the children’s
department, and there literally was sewage all over the bottom floor of the library
that did damage, that we had to close down the department, that we had
to make decisions about, you know, whether staff are going to be working,
because they couldn’t work in the basement. So I think, in a way, that
was, like, trial by fire. It was saying to me, “Listen,
every day you’re going to come in. You’re going to deal with whatever happens,
and you can deal with whatever happens. You’ll just take it step by step.” What I also really found out was that, you know, it really emphasizes that
your staff is everything. That where your strengths aren’t, theirs
are, and by cultivating a relationship of self-respect and respect for others,
you recognize that and you work together. So, you know what? My Excel skills are terrible, but I have
people on staff who can help me through that. But when I was thinking about
taking on the role, I was saying, “Oh my goodness, you can’t even do Excel. Well, you know, what? You can. There are people who can, and
they can get you through that part of it.” So I’m going to turn it over to Dana to talk
a little bit more about what surprised her about the leadership if you’d
like to add any more, Dana.>>Well, actually I feel like I kind of
addressed the things that surprised me about it. Just that I think how much I enjoyed it, how
much I found that I did actually embrace it when it wasn’t something that I maybe had
originally thought that I was planning to do. So I feel like if people are okay, we’re
probably ready to go on to the next slide.>>And one thing, Dana, don’t
you notice about it is it’s nice to have the overall view of things, right?>>Yes.>>To be able to look at the umbrella
view and actually have the freedom to make decisions that can come to fruition.>>Yes.>>It’s a really exciting
part of a leadership role.>>Yes, that’s definitely rewarding.>>Thank you both for being so open about
your experiences about sort of, you know, your hesitations and then the surprises and the
joys that you’re finding in those roles, too. That’s wonderful. I think that gives us a really very
frontline and down-to-earth view of what your story was like
to get to those roles. I’ll move on now, quickly,
and ask you the next slide, which is “Why did you seek
out a leadership role?” Either one of you can take that question first.>>Oh, okay. I’ll go ahead. It’s Dana. So I actually, as Cheryl mentioned, I’m
still actively doing this MLIS degree. I’m about halfway through. I’m taking it incredibly slowly. So I started that when I was still working
as a part-time library assistant here at St. Thomas Public Library and, as I
started to work through the core courses, it really did help me to see how my public
library fit into the larger municipal picture and also what a transformational force
librarians really are in people’s lives. And that kind of renewed and reinforced the
passion that I had for public libraries, and I realized that I wanted to
be part of the team that was going to be charting the course for
the future of this library. And so, the position that I’m currently
in now opened up, and, obviously, I wasn’t done the degree yet, and
I sort of expressed to a coworker that I wished it had become
available two years down the road, because I would have completed the degree. And she said, “You know what? Why don’t you just apply for it? You’re doing the degree. You’ve worked here for years. Give it a shot.” And so I did go and actually talk to Heather,
who was my supervisor at the time in that role, as well, and she really encouraged
me to apply, to go for it and to see what I could bring to it. And that was what I sought it out, and
that’s sort of how I got here now [laughs]. So I guess I’ll hand this
question over to Heather now.>>And what’s really important about hearing
how Dana came to be in this role is that, when we first envisioned the person, the
manager of advocacy and community development, we immediately thought it would be a librarian. And, when she came to us, and when
she came to me, and we saw the light in her eyes, I can remember it, clearly. She said “This role is made for me.” We went back to the table
and we said, “You know, is this a role that we really
need a librarian in? You know, what would be the benefits of
not having a librarian in this role?” And when we went trolling with this
open the position up for people who had to have amazing skills that they could bring
into libraries, and I think that we’re seeing that as a trend that, you know, sometimes maybe
the librarians aren’t always the best person for certain roles in the organization. And that’s okay, because it makes us broader in
our thinking, more creative, more innovative. And so we posted it, and she was up against
librarians, but the light that she had in her eyes translated into an amazing
interview, and she is fantastic in the role. So I know I’m talking about Dana.>>Thank you.>>But that’s really important to
know that sometimes you can advocate for yourself, and I hope that you will. As far as me seeking out a
leadership role, I think, you know, after all the performance
appraisals I’ve had in my lifetime, one of the things that’s pretty
consistent is people will tell me that I’m a visionary with my feet on the ground. And so I can’t imagine being in a role
where I couldn’t chart my own path, where I couldn’t make a difference. And I remember even when I was
interviewed at St. Thomas Public Library, and that was for a children’s librarian role. I remember coming out of the interview saying,
“I can make a difference in this library,” and it’s something that’s
obviously very important in my life. And, I think, you know, we’re going to talk
a little bit about how we come to leadership and that can be a meandering road like
it was for me, or it can be quick. And you just know that you want to be in a top
role and you go for it, and that’s okay, too, and both have their advantages
and their disadvantages. But sort of that’s my reason for seeking out
a leadership role, and if I can be honest, I’m at that age, where I didn’t think I
could possibly go through trying to work around another CEO and whatever
that meant for me. So that’s just the honest answer to that. I think we’re ready to go on.>>Thank you for that, again, for being so
open, both of you, and giving us some insight into the different ways that you
can get into a leadership position. So this question that we can see
on the screen, the next one again, is a two-parter around how you both would
define successful leaders but also a bit about how those definitions influenced you
and how that’s been affected by those leader under whom you’ve worked, and, you
know, you’ve seen successful leadership.>>Okay, it’s Dana, again. I just want to say, quickly, before I
answer this question that I do think, and I’m not just saying this to plug
San Jose, but I do feel that the skills that are being emphasized in
the course in San Jose are ones that are really relevant for leaders. I feel like, you know, when I talk to
Heather, or I talk to the other members of our management team who did their
degrees maybe a little bit further in the past, no, sorry [laughs].>>A lot further in the past.>>But it’s changed, right? Like, the content of it has changed. The focus of it has changed. It’s very much connected to skills that are
necessary to today’s workforce, and I feel that, you know, I’m very, very grateful that they
opened up the position and made it possible for me to apply for it without the degree. At the same time, I would say that
being actively in this degree while I’m in this role is the best possible combination
for me, at this point, because I’m finding that every single course that I’m taking
is something that I can directly translate into my day-to-day work life, which has
been an incredible kind of synergy, I guess, I would say, so I just wanted
to throw that out there.>>Well, absolutely. I went to library school long,
long time ago [laughter]. [Inaudible] But even I know that in the
library schools now are still struggling with what it is that’s going to be relevant to
those who are actually going out and working in libraries, and we’re just seeing what
Dana’s bringing to the management table and to the workplace, in general. And, I mean, we’re benefiting
all over the place. And she’s pointing out things that we should
be reading, because she’s reading them, and so it’s been an exciting process for us. [Inaudible] Yeah, really.>>Okay, so I can see there’s a question
in the chat, and, I think, in a way, what I’m going to say about successful
leadership I hope is kind of going to speak to that question, as well. So I guess I was going to say one of the things
that I found is that it’s been really good to be learning and growing together
with this management team, because, as its probably quite clear by now,
Heather is new to this particular role, and the other people on our management team
are relatively new to their roles, as well, and that’s provided a real
atmosphere where growth is possible. So as far as what makes a leader successful,
I would say the things that came to mind for me almost immediately
were understanding themselves. So understanding what your strengths are and
also understanding where your limitations are, and I think that’s where the
connection to advocacy is, as well. When you take the time to get to know
yourself and that, you know, involves, like, self-reflection in a solitary way, but it
also involves being observant of yourself as you interact with other members of
your team with you and as you interact with people with whom you’re working. You do start, or at least I found you start to
get a real sense of what your strengths are, and you start to own those, and you start to
feel more comfortable advocating for yourself and understanding when is the right
time to push your ideas forward? When is the right time to be listening? Your confidence starts to grow, and I think
that’s the combination of being in this role, owning the fact that I’m in
this role and being in school. There’s just this confluence of
intellectual pursuits and personal growth that I think has been really, really helpful. So, anyways, as far a successful leader
goes, I think, understanding yourself is key. You need to do that. Understanding the people with whom
you’re actively working– who are they? What are their strengths? What are their limitations, and how
do you capitalize on their strengths and help create an environment where they
can work together to do their best work? And whatever that best work is, it’s going to
be defined, you know, by your own strategic plan and your own circumstances, but you want to
be creating an environment where these people that you’ve taken the time to get
to know and understand can excel. And I think another thing about a successful
leader is they know how and when to delegate. They know when something’s
best done by themselves, and they know when it’s best
done by someone else. Also, being able to give constructive
feedback, because I find one of my tendencies, especially since the people that
I manage are people that I worked with side by side is to just give praise. And when that’s due, that’s great,
but there are times when you need to give constructive feedback, and you need to
find out how to do that in a way that is going to help people grow and move forward. And also, how to give encouragement and praise, but in a meaningful way,
connected to something specific. Don’t just always say, “Awesome job,
awesome job,” which is kind of what I did at the beginning, because I didn’t
want to be perceived as getting sort of above myself, because I’d moved up. And I think a leader can help
support you through your mistakes. All of us are going to make
mistakes, missed steps, say something wrong, do something
wrong, poor choice. You know, everybody does that; we’re all humans. A leader is going to help you work through that. They’re going to help you own what you’ve done,
where you are, and work through that to grow. I think, also, credibility, doing what you say
you’re going to do, following through on things. Not asking people to do things
that you wouldn’t do yourself. I’m not saying you have to do everything
yourself, but being realistic about what you ask of people and not asking them to
do things you wouldn’t do yourself. Another thing that I think is really
important that I think we’ve seen a lot of over the past while is knowing how to involve
the rest of the staff in decision making, but without giving over too
much of your own control. And that’s a balance that I think we’ve
been trying to walk as a management team for some time, and I think it
requires conscious, constant effort. And, I think, also, leaders do need
to be forward-thinking and visionary. As a member of the staff, it’s good if you
have those qualities, but it’s not essential. When you’re a leader, it’s essential
that you have those qualities. You’re the one who is, well, part of the
team that’s leading the institution forward. You have to be thinking about the future. You have to have a vision for that, and
you have to have a map to get there. So those are my thoughts on that,
so I’ll hand it over to Heather.>>[Laughs] Thank you, Dana. It’s so funny, because, this morning,
I was reading a Brene Brown book, and I stumbled across [inaudible]
is what she said is about a leader, and I just believe in this wholeheartedly. A leader is anyone who holds her or himself
accountable for finding potential in people and processes, and that is, to
me, the true meaning of a leader. You know, in the end, we’re in
these roles, because someone has to be ultimately responsible, but, in
the day-to-day running of a library, the people who are working in the library, in whatever role they hold, are
holding this place together. So the most important thing that a successful
leader can do is nurture the relationship with staff. It’s paramount to anything else, and
I’ve been through a variety of leaders. Well, I’ve had some pretty weak
leaders for a variety of reasons. I’ve had leaders who bully and
create a fear-based leadership, and so people are tiptoeing around. I’ve had ineffective leaders who don’t make
decisions, and I think it’s really important that you look at these experiences and say, “Oh, it would be nice if I just had
nice, you know, healthy leaders.” But leaders are never perfect, and you always
learn something from the negative parts of leadership, and I think that
makes you stronger as a leader. But I emphasize what Dana said, and, in
fact, we are working on this right now, that you need to first and
foremost know yourself. And that’s something I’m afraid I
came to a little later on in life. And, in fact, I just took a power workshop
with a person called Julie Diamond, and I was sitting next to a woman, and she
said, “Heather, it sounds to me like you need to own yourself, own your strengths.” And I thought, “You know, my goodness,
I’ve gotten to this far in my career, and I haven’t owned my strengths.” So she recommended going on and
doing the CliftonStrengths test. So I came back, signed up, cost some
money, did it, and it has 34 strengths on it, and I did the whole nine yards. You can do just five, and I
found out what my top five were, and I found out what my bottom five
were, and some of them surprised me. And then I thought, “Oh, yes, well,
so it explains why I am who I am.” So then we went on. I was so enthusiastic about this that I had
all of the managers do the strengths test. And so, we’re actually working with a consultant
right now, and we’re talking about one another and our strengths and also how
we see one another’s strengths, and that’s been really [inaudible]. And then we’re taking the next
step at a staff development day and having our staff do the strengths test. And all of this is to gift
them with more knowledge of who they are, and that’s really important. So, I mean, we kind of have an unwritten rule
around here that the best thing we can do is to get to know our staff
well enough so that we know, and they talk about what they’re
passionate about, what their skills are, and we try to interweave those things into our
workplace, and libraries are excellent for this. You can interweave a whole lot of skills
and talents into a library workplace, and I think we continue to do that. So we’re hearing that even mirrored back to us. Like, they’ll say to us, “We know that this
is a workplace where we can use our passions and our talents,” and I think
that successful leaders do that. So then, of course, in a role like mine, you
have to be a strategist, because you’re dealing with politics and politic figures,
and your funding, the majority of it, is coming from the municipal
government, in our case. And so you have to know how to have
a relationship with the politicians and still remind them that
you have a library board, and sometimes this works
and sometimes it doesn’t. So, in our case, you know, they help us with large maintenance projects,
and they do our budget. Like, they send checks for us and all
that sort of stuff, keep our books. And I sit on the city manager’s committee,
which I would recommend for leaders to get to know their political environment, and I
know, in the United States, it’s different. So I think that’s really, really important. You have to be an active listener, and you have
to realize that this job is not all high-level. Sometimes you’re just dealing with
cracked windows and social issues like, you know, drugs and sex in the washrooms. It’s a real mixed bag, and that’s what
makes it a wonderful role at one time. The other part of it that you have to know
about this position and any leadership position where you’re supervising people is that
the personnel issues are extremely complex and extremely difficult, and they
take oodles and oodles of time. So the more you can work on interpersonal skills
and yourself, who you are, I think, the better. So I think we’ve pretty well.>>I think we have [laughs].>>We have talked that one to the ground.>>Okay, thank you. I would be remiss if I didn’t loop back
very quickly and say thank you, too, for the great plug about the San Jose
State School of Information’s MILS program, and Dana is a star in that program [laughs],
so it’s a mutual benefit there, I think. Our next question is about what skills
you think are most helpful in your role, and maybe we can focus a little bit
on the second part of this question about where you developed those skills, as
well, too, if it was on the job or if it was, you know, your member of your
condo board, any of those things that you feel really helped prepare
you and develop those skills.>>Sure, I can start there. It’s Dana, again. I would say, I mean, given
my particular history. Most of these skills have been developed
in this job while I’ve been in school. That being said, I do often draw parallels
between being a parent and being a leader in an organization, because there
are a lot of parallels there. So I’m just going to throw that out there. So I would say, let’s see. Yeah, I think taking on this role, learning how
to take responsibility for choices that I make, because I start to see more concretely
how they directly affect the people that I’m supervising and, like, my
co-members on the management team. That’s sort of been a skill
that I’ve been developing. Time organization. When I was a library assistant, I
thought that I was busy, and I was busy, but when you move into a leadership role,
you’re juggling a lot more balls are in the air, I guess, at one time. I did actually just take the one-unit
leadership course here, another plug, because it was amazing, and some of the reading
that we did was talking about the difference between management and leadership. And what I realized in reading that is that this
kind of role, and I’m guessing a lot of roles like this, involve management and leadership. So there’s time management, there’s
managing other peoples’ time. There’s managing projects. There’s managing, you know,
your day-to-day schedule, when you’ve got a lot of meetings and stuff. But then there’s also the leadership aspect,
which is, you know, working with people, envisioning for the library and setting
priorities and doing strategic planning. A lot of it, I mean, I’m learning on the ground,
and I think that, you know, people are capable of that, especially people who have taken the
step to do a higher level degree like this. That takes a lot of initiative. That takes courage. That takes, you know, a belief in yourself,
and I think that forms– I don’t know, what– the groundwork, the basis to do the other things
that you need to learn how to do on the job, especially if you are in a
supportive work environment. And I would say, you know, from
the leadership reading that I did, and from my own personal experience,
there’s tons of different environments in which you can develop those skills. I mean, self-knowledge and working on
yourself, you can do that whenever, wherever through reading, through your
relationships with friends, family, children. If you are, you know, in a church
group or some other kind of group, take on a leadership role there,
and it doesn’t have to be, you know, that you’re named the leader of that group. It’s the way that you conduct yourself, the
relationships that you build with people, the influence that you start to wield, and the
sort of belief in yourself that starts to come out of taking on those roles and understanding
that you can influence other people in a positive way and get to know
them and kind of make things happen. So I would say, you know, any opportunity. In a class that you’re in at San Jose, or
somewhere else, you know, in your living room with your family or in any group you happen
to be involved in, there’s opportunities if you’re thinking intentionally
enough [inaudible] that you want to grow as a leader and as a person. You can make that happen almost anywhere that
you are in any relationship that you’re in. So I’m going to hand that over to Heather now.>>Great, and I would totally agree
with you, Dana, that I think a lot of it is just actually watching power and how
you use power in every aspect of your life. And this is where good leaders and not so
good leaders really need to have a good look at why things aren’t working or why they are
working, and from what Julie Diamond says in her book called Power A User’s Guide. I mean, that power dynamic starts in
your own families when you’re children. And even just looking back and saying, you
know, “What was the dynamic in my family?” It influences your dynamic when you get
to school, when you’re in public school or when you’re in high school, and when
you’re working in groups and university. There’s all sorts of power stuff going on. Watch that carefully. And, yes, as Dana says, you know, taking
leadership roles in whatever aspects of your life you feel you can take
leadership roles, because you learn so much. And sometimes it’s nice to have that
learning before you’re in, like, you know, the CEO position or managing
15 people, because it is a lot about the interpersonal skills, a lot. So I would say, you know, almost anywhere and
do read about it and read [inaudible] different. Like, I’m reading a book now
about, you know, what horses and what watching horses can
tell us about leadership. So whatever way calls you to do research, you
know, it all is very, very helpful in the end. So, yeah, I think we’re ready to go on.>>Okay, wonderful. I’m just going to mute your
mic for a quick second. Sorry, I was getting some feedback there. I’ll put you back on in a minute. Before we just go on, I want to
say we’re just going to skip a bit around in the formal questions here. Sorry, Heather and Dana. I know that’s last minute, but I know
there’s a couple of questions here that are really probably burning on
people’s minds, because we hear them from students all the time, so I
want to make sure we get to those. And I also want to just pause quickly if
anyone has any questions that they are dying to ask at this point before we go on. You can use the chat if you’d like to do that. Perhaps think about that while we’re
going on, but I’m going to jump ahead and ask you both what kind of supervisory
experience did you have before you took on your first leadership role? I know this is a very common concern for
people who are considering leadership roles. They think, “Oh, well, I couldn’t
even put myself in that position. I couldn’t apply for that, because
I’ve never supervised anyone.” So tell us a bit about your experiences.>>I was just going to say I’ll start,
because my supervisor experience before taking on this role was extremely limited so
it won’t take me long to talk about it. I started here at St. Thomas Public
Library as a library assistant, which was not in any way a supervisory position. And then I covered two maternity leaves as a
library services coordinator in our children and teen’s department, so that was constituted
about a year and a half, and, really, the leadership that that involved– it was supervising and scheduling four
part-time staff members and three pages. But it certainly didn’t have the sort of
strategic planning and visionary components. So, I mean, when I applied for this job,
I had very little supervisory experience, and I went for it anyway, and I
would encourage people to do that. Because I think that the relationship that
you have with the people that you’re going to be working with, what you bring to the
interview, that can make a huge difference. I mean, of course, your resume’s important. I’m certainly not going to say that, but it’s
what you bring to the interview and the passion that you bring and your willingness
to learn and, you know, the skillset that you do have emphasizing
all the strengths you can bring that that’s important, and you should go for it.>>Yes, it’s Heather. One of you asked about advocating for yourself,
and this is part of advocating for yourself is, you know, taking roles that have, you
know, functional guidance in them, because it’s kind of nice in a way, and maybe
this is my own way of going about doing it. It’s kind of nice to ease
into a leadership role. So, you know, Dana’s role, she would identify
issues, if there were issues with staff, to a manager and then she and the
manager, which was, at that point, me. We would talk about how we were going to handle
them, and in the talking about how we’re going to handle things, you’re learning, right?>>Mm-hmm, yup.>>So do look for those roles
and don’t shy away from them. That’s just the thing. Most of the time when you have issues, and
if you’re worried about supervising people, just know that most of the
time you’re not doing it alone. I’m not doing it alone. I consult with HR from the city all the time,
so don’t shy away from them, and we are now. I think there’s a trend that we’re
doing behavioral interviewing. That’s where we’d like to
go, because we want people who have the behaviors that we’re looking for. We can teach the skills, but we want to
know that they’re compassionate people. So, in terms of my supervisory
experience, like, honestly, I didn’t even think about it being supervisory. Here I am, I’m not even finished
library school just like Dana, and I’m all of a sudden I think I had
three people that I was supervising, and I had to come up with programming
for children, and I had to go to meetings with other children’s librarians
throughout the system. So, like, don’t be afraid to be thrown
into it and ask for help for the things that you don’t know, because most of the time, nobody is minding showing you
the ropes and helping you along. There’s lots of help out
there in different aspects of whatever it is that you’re struggling with. And, from there, I was like a branch supervisor,
so I tried that for a while and then I was, you know, various roles as you heard in this. And each one of them taught me something, but
I always had help, always, and someone to talk to about things, and, hopefully,
you always will too, so.>>I can see there’s a question in
the chat about finding a mentor. Would you like us to answer that one?>>Yeah, thanks, Dana. I was going to say that follows along
perfectly from Heather’s last point, so whoever wants to address
leadership and mentorship, that’d be great if you’re wanting to do that.>>I can jump in and just quickly say, for
me, I mean, I guess, I was lucky enough to already be working in a library,
and so when I was looking for someone to give me some guidance, I
did have Heather to turn to, because she was my supervisor at the time. So, I mean, when I was thinking about going to
library school, I went and talked to Heather. When I was thinking about applying
for this position that I’m in now, I went and talked to Heather, and that
relationship came about quite naturally. That being said, I think you can
find a mentor, probably, I mean, in the same way that you can
find leadership experience. Take a look at the people around you. Take a look even at family members or at members
of groups that you’re part of or even, you know, a professor at school that you feel
that you have a good relationship with and go [inaudible] and ask them. Tell them what your ambitions are. Tell them what you’re wanting
to do, and ask for their advice. I mean, I personally would be flattered
if someone asked me those questions, and I think I can’t speak for Heather, but
she’s nodding, but people feel the same way. I mean, that you see them as someone who has
something to bring to you and to your journey. I mean, that’s flattering. So, I mean, look around for people that you
respect and admire in any aspect of your life and talk to them about what you’re wanting
to do and see what they have to say to you. That would be my recommendation,
and if you happen to be working in a library, well, that’s great. It works out really well [laughs].>>Yes, and this is Heather. I know that our Ontario Library Association
actually has a mentorship program, and so people who want to mentor sign up
and then those who want to be mentored in the different aspects of librarianship,
and we all know that it’s a very broad field. There’s opportunity for them
to chat, but, as Dana says, your mentor may not be your
supervisor or your CEO. I think you have to know your leader, the person
you’re working for, or your CEO, or whatever, to see whether or not this is the kind
of mentorship that you’re looking for. It isn’t always, but I get calls from people
who want to ask questions, who want some advice. And in my thinking, you are the future of
librarianship, and why wouldn’t we want to be helping the future, because, I mean, I’m
still as passionate about libraries as I was when I first started in this career, and we want
it to continue, and we want it to be healthy. So why wouldn’t we help? Cold-call. I mean, if they say, “No,”
move on to someone else. I can see. I mean, you’re from some pretty amazing
areas with some pretty amazing libraries. Give it a try, like, really. Oh, yeah, somebody is even
talking about mentorship programs. Good, good. Yes, take advantage of them.>>All right, [inaudible] it sounds like both
of you said don’t rely just on one person to give you all that advice and mentorship. Turn to whoever you need to
at the time, it sounds like.>>Yes.>>I really want to get to this next
question, so I’d ask Dr. Alman to make sure that we [inaudible] this on the screen. The question is “What do
you feel is more important for MLIS students to know about leadership?>>I can jump in and start it. It’s Dana. I would say that doing leadership well involves
more introspection and a deeper understanding of human psychology than
you might at first expect. I think people may go into
it thinking, you know, it’s all very skills-based,
and skills are important. I’m certainly not saying that
they’re not, but a lot of it is about that relationship-building piece. It’s about getting to know the people with
whom you’re working on a day-to-day basis, the people that you’re attempting to
lead and really getting to know yourself. I can’t stress enough how important
it is to understand your own strengths and your own limitations, because that
allows you to be an authentic person. And when you’re being an authentic person,
then you’re able to be an authentic leader. Those relationships will happen more naturally. That being said, you do need to
intentionally focus on relationships and understanding yourself the way
that you’re related to other people and authentically getting to
know them, listening to them, understanding where they’re
coming from, and hearing them. And hearing does not necessarily
have to mean agreeing, and I think that was something I
would sort of emphasize, as well. You can hear people without agreeing with
them, and I think that’s an important thing to understand when you’re a leader. I think I would also say that taking
on increased levels of responsibility– it sounds scary, but it can be incredibly
fulfilling, and I think it’s worth the risk. If you think it’s something that might
want to do, I would say go for it, because it can be a real opportunity
for growth and very satisfying. And also, I guess, on a personal note, if you’re
moving up in an organization, your relationships with your former coworkers are going to change. Not all your friendships
are going to disintegrate. I’m certainly not suggesting that, but
your relationships with people will change, so be ready for that if you’re
looking at internal movement. I think those would be my sort of main insights. And that, yeah, I guess,
what we were saying before. You can learn to lead from wherever you
are, and you can lead from wherever you are, so build your confidence, your sense of self, your ability to form trust-based
relationships with people. Work on those things, because then you will
be heading in the right direction no matter where you currently are in your work-life field. Over to Heather.>>Dana [laughs]! How can I follow that [laughs]? No. I agree with all of that. Knowing yourself is one of
the most important things. Do everything you can to know who you
are, to know how you deal with others, and there are a variety of ways of
doing that, but that’s so important. And I think that it is true that the higher
up you get, the lonelier the position can be, and Dana talked about this, earlier on, and
she had the experience of going from being, you know, a coworker to, all
of a sudden, being a manager. And it is lonelier as you
move up, and you sort of have to accept that, but it is extremely fulfilling. Libraries are one of the most resilient
places, I think, because, I mean, we were looking at extinction in many
people’s minds, and look at where we are now and we continue to mold and change
ourselves to meet the needs of our public and to try to keep up with technology. That takes a lot of resilience,
so keep your skills. Like, do try to keep up with the
technology in your libraries. Do get to know yourself as well as possible,
and, also, I think it’s really important to learn how to put your ego aside. That bringing your ego to a leadership role
can be really harmful, so I watch leaders talk about my library and my staff, and I always
think, “But that’s not correct,” you know? You’re the library staff. We’re all the library staff and feeling
as though you’re all in this together. That, yes, you’re the figurehead. You’re the one who’ll talk to the
press if something goes wrong. You’re the one they call when you know the
roof’s leaking or somebody’s doing drugs in the washroom, but, really,
we’re all in this together. So the respect of other people, no matter what
their station, is really, really important. So I think that, yeah, that
pretty well covers it.>>Well, thank you. This is another really important
question, and I hope we can take time in the time we have [laughs] left. So when you’re thinking about
students who are in the program, who are thinking about entering
the program, what are some ways that you suggested we can
practice leadership skills when we might not have [inaudible]
other ways that they can start to prepare themselves to take on that role?>>Sure, I can start. It’s Dana. So I think a few of these
things have been touched on in things that we’ve been saying so far. One of the first things I thought was
“Observe other leaders, and observe the way that people react to them, observe the way
that they kind of live out their relationships with other people with whom they work.” And think about leaders with
whom you’re working. What do you like about the way
that they’re interacting with you? What do you not like? What do you think about the decisions that
they’re making and the way that, like, what direction they’re taking
their organization in? Really think critically and
intentionally about those things. I would say, and, again, we’ve touched
on this a few times, but I can’t, you know, sort of overemphasize it. Get to know yourself. What are your strengths? Where do you think you need
to improve, and start thinking about what you could do to strengthen yourself. What could you do to learn more? Oh, and then own what you learn about yourself. When you figure out what your strengths
are, really own them, believe in them. You do have something to contribute. Share your ideas and take risks, because
you might be surprised by how people react to your thoughts and your insights. And I would also say, “Own what you don’t know.” Don’t be afraid to ask questions,
and don’t be afraid to be wrong. Don’t be afraid to learn from your mistakes,
and don’t be afraid to learn from other people. Just because you’re in a leadership role,
doesn’t mean you have to know everything. It’s a wonderful opportunity to come into
contact with people who have so much to offer, both the organization that you’re
working for and you as a growing leader. Take that time. Ask those questions, and
learn from other people. Humble yourself in that way. I think it’s so important. I would say, also, intentionally
and deliberately working on building trust-based relationships
with people. That can be, you know, family members, friends. It can be people that you’re in school with. I mean, from the reading that I’ve done in the
leadership course that I just took, credibility and accountability are cornerstones
of good leadership, and I do believe that from my own limited
experience, as well, so think about that. Do reading around it. What would make you more credible? What would make you more accountable, and try to
live those things out in your day-to-day life. And then, I mean, any contacts that you can
find in which you can practice these skills. Like, are you in a group? Do you belong to, yeah, a church
group or something like that? Where can you lead from? Where could you try these things out? And then, of course, take on any opportunities for increased responsibility
where you’re working. And try these skills, and I would plug
for the San Jose leadership course. It really was great [laughs]. So over to Heather.>>Wonderful. Thanks, Dana. I think one of the things that leaders–
I know I struggled with, and that is fear. And I think that working through fear– I
know this is often a career that is maybe not so much anymore with the technology part,
but it used to attract a lot of introverts. And I remember being at a conference and the
speaker saying, “Listen, you need to speak. We all need to speak. It doesn’t matter if you’re
afraid of public speaking. You have to find a voice. You have to get out there,
and you got to do it.” So, I mean, I was a painfully shy person. I still am in my heart of hearts,
but in order to be a leader, you have to find your voice,
and you have to use it. And it goes with for a lot
of skills in leadership. You know, when your boss
asks you to do something. Like, in my case, it was to
coordinate the renovation of a library. She said, “I think you can do it.” And she said, “What do you think? I’ll give you time to think about
it,” but I just said, “Yes.” And it was the best thing I ever did. Was it easy? No. But, I mean, amazing skills came
out of that, amazing knowledge of things that I had no knowledge about, and
it just makes you a broader person. So I would suggest say “Yes,” and
use your library associations. I know they have student rates. I know they have mentorship programs. I know that, you know, they allow you
to go to conferences for less money. Do that, because you make contacts. Ask for people’s business cards. They could be potentially your mentor. They could be potentially your
next employer, so say “Yes.” Take chances. Believe in yourself and be
assertive about yourself. I think we’ve answered that.>>Thank you. Wonderful. Just before we get onto our last question,
I want to open the floor again quickly if anyone has a burning question that
they want to ask of Heather and Dana. And perhaps while we’re thinking
about that you can see on our screen. I’d like to ask you if there’s anything that
you’d recommend people read, a book or two, or Dana you talked about
you’re doing a lot of reading, but presumably good articles
that have influenced you? What do you suggest?>>Oh, sure, so I have a couple of suggestions. It’s Dana. There are a lot of great articles on
leadership from the Harvard Business Review. So I would suggest going online
and searching leadership. You can do that, I think,
through the San Jose databases or through the Harvard Business Review website, because there’s some wonderful
articles in there. I would also suggest one book that I really
found helpful was Drive by Daniel Pink, and another one is Influence by Robert Cialdini. Those are both about just understanding
how people tick, and I think it’s helpful for getting to know yourself, helpful
for getting to know other people. And a book that I just read for the
leadership course that I keep going on about was Credibility by James–
I think it’s Kouzes and Barry Posner. And that is, as far I understand it, one
of the kind of seminal books in the field, and I found it incredibly
influential in my thinking. So those would be, I guess, my top-three
books and some recommendations for articles.>>It’s Heather. I’m going to plug Julie Diamond’s
Power User’s Guide, because in it you actually can work through. It’s a fairly lengthy process, but the entire
questionnaire’s in the back of the book, and you can figure out what your power print
is, and I think that’s really, really important. It’s all about, you know,
knowing thyself, right? So pick that up. It’s really a great book. Thank you. Sorry, just delay there while I was typing those
authors and titles into the chat for everyone. We are coming just two minutes to the hour, so I’m hoping if anyone has a last
question, they put it in the chat now. We don’t want to go over time. We know people have to leave, but in the
meantime, I want to thank Heather and Dana so very much for joining us for our series and
for being so candid and open and informative about their jobs and their experiences and
hopefully inspirational to those of you who are considering a leadership role. Any last words Heather and Dana?>>And, you know what? If anybody wants to contact us, we
are more than open to being contacted.>>Oh, absolutely.>>Yes, answering questions. We’re just really pleased to be here.>>Yeah, thank you.>>It’s an honor. Thank you.>>Well, thank you both so much
and thank you to our participants. We look forward to seeing you at our
next three webinars in the series.>>We have a question here about a
list of topics for upcoming webinars. If you go to the San Jose
School of Information website, we do have a list of all
of our upcoming speakers. We’re going to be featuring the
university librarian from the King Library, Kelvin Watson from Broward County
Library and Melissa Fraser-Arnott from the Library of Parliament in Canada. So however you found out about
this webinar, you’ll see the links for those upcoming series pushed out to through
to the marketing team at the [inaudible].

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *