Plane takes off

An UHMLG summer trip away – day 1

This was my first attendance at an UHMLG event (the summer residential conference) and it was great to meet new people and catch up with familiar faces.  Sadly we only got as far away as Luton but the hotel was comfortable and you got used to the plane noise.

The theme was “influencing, inspiring, leading: reflections on personal and professional impact”.

We opened with Jane Savidge talking about use of leadership circles.  These are grounded in the Nancy Klein thinking environment from “Time to think”.  I read this a while ago hoping it would help me find ways to lift my thinking beyond immediate pressing issues.  In practice it is very much about listening and good questions.

Leadership circles (8 to 10 people) are aiming to break down silos and the gap between academic culture and professional services. In their aim to encourage deep thinking they do correspond more to what I had hoped for.
It sounds like it has been successful for forming relationships. It has also influenced more widely how meetings are being run throughout the university – you can see the people who are involved. The circles were related back to the 7 Habits idea of circles of influence – these have been expanded.
Anthea Sutton followed with “Librarian as leader: skills, competencies & development opportunities in library and info profession”
This was based on original research for NLH back in 2008 (later published in HILJ) and updated for a talk at the recent EAHIL conference.
Andrea contrasted her own leadership journey where she has risen (in her view accidentally) into a management position over her time at ScHARR. Management not synonymous with leadership but management can go in hand with it.  On the other hand she offered her colleague – Andy Tattersall. Andy is a specialist in electronic networks, communications. Has influence in the organisation and beyond. Very good at monitoring future trends. Leadership through expertise.
Literature says leadership is hard to define. Is one profile appropriate for our profession anyway?  A magic check list is not possible, there is no single profile, leadership courses are not Fairy dust (Greenhalgh).
Current opportunities – formal programmes (CILIP leadership thing). Your institution may be running them. Leadership MOOCs, mentoring / coaching, observation, peer support / networking, reading, writing / publishing.  360 degree feedback highly recommended – something I have always tended to dodge.  We are not good at assessing our own competence. Something to think about as (hopefully) more people engage with the PKSB.
After tea we were treated to a talk by Roisin Gwyer on influencing up.  I took limited notes as I was focussed on listening.  Starting with Yukl influence tactics we had a tour of a range of models and theories but the value for me came from the experience shared. I loved the ideas around being opportunistic – we are going to need to say things twenty times to get ideas accepted.  Having an acceptable compromise position ready in advance is something I need to do more of. Hopefully the slides will go on the UHLMG site.
The last couple of segments were a round table that worked moderately and then an update on Knowledge for Healthcare. Great to see this progressing – and I am now getting more actively involved in the national programme through Chairing a task and finish group on Metrics (get in touch anyone with strong views!).
After the group AGM we were whisked off for a BBQ at the rather lovely Offley Place.
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Reflecting on Lean in

Nearly two years ago the Library Leadership Reading Group (steered by the super Jo Alcock) read Lean in By Sheryl Sandberg. I did not have access to a copy at the time but read commentary on it and watched her Ted video.

There was a really good twitter discussion in the group that you can read here.

Thanks to the serendipity of wandering the shelves at the Public Library I have finally got hold of a copy and read it (sadly the period between me borrowing it and reading it encompassed the death of the author’s husband David Goldberg). I am glad I took the time to read the book and would recommend it to all (it is a value packed 170 or so pages).

I am very aware that any comments from me come from a position of privilege. I also do not wish to share too much of what is not mine alone to share. Suffice to say that I recognise my own failure to do all I can do to advance equality at home and work.

The book strikingly presents some of the ways gender impacts on how people are perceived, treated and work. It places a challenge to men and women to address imbalances that remain significant. We need to talk about these issues and we need to work on addressing them.  I plan to do both – at home and at work.