With the evolving role of libraries in today’s communities, particularly in the challenging climate of COVID-19, many of us are recognizing the need to strengthen our staff leadership. In the past, we may have created special programs, hired expensive facilitators, and sent our “best and brightest” off to external programs, in the hopes of developing talented and creative individuals who will help us leverage new capabilities and improve community responsiveness.
In terms of results and library-wide impact, though, these programs are falling short. Special programs can only enroll a limited few. While individuals benefit, our Library systems may miss out on the impact. Employees often self-select into leadership programs. We might be limiting our pool to those who are interested in promoting, and missing out on talented individuals who don’t see themselves as leaders yet, or who think leadership is reserved for supervisors. It’s not enough to have leaders in the top spots. To be more responsive and progressive, we need individuals in all areas to be generating creative ideas, making decisions, and executing on them.
To move past these challenges and create a leadership development program that would be sustainable, equitable, open, and measurable, the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) created an internal, system-wide initiative called Take the Lead.
Now, more than ever, we invite you to re-envision what leadership should look like, as we move through the crisis, and into the future. Take the Lead is an empowering invitation to every employee to “take the lead” in different ways, to help us work more effectively, make better decisions, generate new ideas and ultimately, strengthen our services, inside and outside of a crisis. It re-positions leadership as a role that employees can step into or step back from.
Participants in this workshop will gain insight into how LAPL knew that traditional training programs were no longer sufficient, and apply those criteria to decide if something like Take the Lead could work within their own libraries. The panel will share the key steps for implementation and share how our results have shaped our response to COVID-19. Finally, participants will learn what resources, people, and structures might be needed within their own libraries to bring an initiative like this to life.