Leading from the Middle

Leading from the Middle

I’m not a library manager. I don’t have a budget, and faculty members like me don’t supervise staff, but my immediate supervisor is the dean of my campus, not the library director at the main campus. She, the library director, the other librarians at the main campus, and the staff I work with throughout the day realize the weird position I am in. I am the only full-time employee.

There are so many employee changes in store this coming academic year. In April, we hired two part-time librarians to help cover evening  hours when I leave work. Both these ladies are working this summer (I have a 10-month contract), and I am so happy to have the extra help and assistance for our students in our much busier fall season. Our part-time library media technician just retired after 27 years of service, and one of our part-time library media bookstore clerks (the bookstore is in the library) just got a great new job at the local University of California (UC). We have one remaining library media bookstore clerk. The dean is really going to push for a full-time library media technician position, and I think we have a good shot at getting it, but, in the meantime, our substitute library clerk will be filling in, and I think our new retiree may  be helping through September.

I lead from the middle, so to speak. I do have a vision for a more friendly space. I have very slowly been making changes over the last two years to help cultivate the library as a campus hub, and now that I know what needs to happen and what kind of stuff works, delegating will be easier. I sense excitement with our remaining team, and I am looking forward to getting to know our future new people and discovering what people like to do and what they want to learn more about. This is my first professional librarian job, and I just wouldn’t have been ready for such a big change in my first or second year.

With that, I am really thinking I might need to do a little more reading about leadership. I found this great little article from Lifehacker, “Become a Stronger Leader by Asking Yourself These Three Questions” that made me take pause. The questions are:

1. What am I not saying that needs to be said?

2. What am I saying that’s not being heard?

3. What’s being said that I’m not hearing?

Which questions would you add? Someone in the comments from the Lifehacker article gave this little gem, “What is best unsaid?” Isn’t that the truth? I think I might even make a little note with these for my desk.

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