With the list of Emerging Leaders selected for ALA’s new program imminent, it seems like a good time to talk about leadership and management. Helene B talked about it in Library TechBytes in her post called On control & empowerment ...
She starts “Lately, it seems that week doesn’t go by where I don't find myself in some discussion with a colleague over the topic of leadership vs. management.”
This is a critical and important distinction, not just for the issues of customer service (Library 2.0), but also for general library management. She has a great bulleted list talking about some of the questions she (and many of us) wrestles with. That list is: Are our services designed control? Or to empower the user with options?
- Are our services designed to manage processes? Or provide our users with a rewarding experience?
- Are our facilities built to contain the user’s use of areas? Or provide users with flexibility and options to collaborate and multitask?
- Are our collections built on a formula to fill shelf space? Or designed to keep our shelves empty and ideas and thoughts circulating within our communities?
She continues with this comment: “The bottom to all these questions seems to come down to the distinction between the foundations of management and leadership. Management for the most part is based upon the principle of control (managing people, managing processes, etc). Leadership on the other hand is based upon the principle of ‘guidance’ and empowering others.”
One of the exciting things about ALA’s Emerging Leaders program is the vision that we need to invigorate our profession. Teaching the difference between management and leadership will be critical. Helene ends with this pithy quote: “In reality, it's not a choice that needs to made, it's a balancing act. And as libraries continue to transform and evolve, the goal should not be to weight the scales of control vs. empowerment evenly, but to ensure that we tip the scales as far as we can in favor of empowering the user - without falling over.”
[Edited to correct link -- thanks Helene -- on 11/8.2006]