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EDITED VERSION - Soft Skills for Hard Times: Essential Business Strategies to Empower the Library Leader


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EDITED VERSION - Soft Skills for Hard Times: Essential Business Strategies to Empower the Library Leader

  1. 1. Essential Business Strategies to Empower the Library Leader Emily Clasper Suffolk Cooperative Library System
  2. 2. https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisjohnbeckett/16917511337/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/
  3. 3. https://www.flickr.com/photos/flavor32/140095063 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/
  4. 4. https://www.flickr.com/photos/foreverphoto/2760042027 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
  5. 5. https://www.flickr.com/photos/tcmportfolio/8665555487 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/
  6. 6. https://www.flickr.com/photos/jubilo/5786793474 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/
  7. 7. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/56984d504bf118ad2a626226/t/56ba6320cf80a17a6f2f1be8/1455055649424/thrivent_thumb.jpg?format=1500w
  8. 8. Confidence & Assertiveness Motivation Adaptability Time Management Goal Setting
  9. 9. https://www.flickr.com/photos/janmaklak/6950426145 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/
  10. 10. https://www.flickr.com/photos/giuseppemilo/16436597548 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
  11. 11. 1. Don't be afraid to fall in love with something & pursue it with intensity. 2. Know, understand, take pride in, practice, develop, exploit, & enjoy your greatest strengths. 3. Learn to free yourself from the expectations of others and to walk away from the games they impose on you. 4. Find a great teacher or mentor who will help you. 5. Don't waste energy trying to be well rounded. 6. Do what you love and can do well. 7. Learn the skill of interdependence. - E. Paul Torrence, Creative Manifesto for Children (1983)
  12. 12. Curiosity is the engine of achievement. ― Sir Ken Robinson
  13. 13. Removing barriers to Creativity • Practicing convergent & divergent thinking • Pursuing new experiences • Seeking out differing Points of View • Incorporating opportunities for Collaboration • Making time to think and study • Making time to engage in exploration, discussion, & play
  14. 14. https://www.flickr.com/photos/needlessspaces/5590915546 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/
  15. 15. Leaders should encourage experimentation and accept that there is nothing wrong with failure as long as it happens early and becomes a source of learning. ― Tim Brown, Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation
  16. 16. https://www.flickr.com/photos/javisanchezfotos/8462243568/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/
  17. 17. http://www.edbatista.com/images/2014/Ladder-of-Inference.jpg
  18. 18. Leaders who value good outcomes more than assertion of their own authority understand that serious errors are avoided by the use of Intelligent Disobedience. ― Ira Chaleff, Intelligent Disobedience: Doing Right When What You're Told to Do Is Wrong
  19. 19. https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/5677307111 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/
  20. 20. https://www.flickr.com/photos/neilmoralee/32609519214 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/
  21. 21. (n*(n-1))/2
  22. 22. (n*(n-1))/2
  23. 23. https://crehttps://scontent-lga3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/18157707_10158602257465022_1953280363711926560_n.jpg?oh=8c43f58fb43ca7f46cd8fe6d1a543aef&oe=5AA5B399
  24. 24. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mattridings/14709566661 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/
  25. 25. 1. Giving Advice / Fixing 2.Analyzing/ Evaluating 3.Storytelling. 4.Sympathy 5.Reassuring / Consoling 6. Shutting Down 7. Correcting 8. Interrogating 9. Commiserating 10. One-upping
  26. 26. Empathy is a strange and powerful thing. There is no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of “You’re not alone.” ― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
  27. 27. https://www.flickr.com/photos/tringa/4784234316 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/
  28. 28. https://www.flickr.com/photos/vidyo/23045603152https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/
  29. 29. https://www.flickr.com/photos/nocklebeast/6245106345 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/
  30. 30. https://www.flickr.com/photos/vlumi/16500090215/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0//
  31. 31. https://www.flickr.com/photos/robgallop/1463546432 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/
  32. 32. Source: Discovering the Leader in You. Sara N. King, Robert Altman, and Robert J. Lee. San Francisco,: Josey- Bass, 2011. Adapted from materials in Leading to the Future Leadership Institute, The American Library Association, 2017. VISION VALUES SELF AWARENESS BALANCE
  33. 33. http://www.diditbot.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/robot-916284_1280.jpg
  34. 34. Essential Business Strategies to Empower the Library Leader Emily Clasper Suffolk Cooperative Library System

Notas do Editor

  • When I first became a librarian, it very quickly became evident to me that librarianship is not about doing a job – it’s about practicing a profession.
    And a big part of the responsibility involved in practicing a profession is actively and intentionally seeking out and participating in opportunities to enhance, refresh, and grow our skillset

    With the many demands placed upon our time and resources, it is often easy to frame this in the sense of engaging in library-centric professional development (taking classes in library topics, attending a conference or two a year, etc)
    But we sometimes forget that there are vast bodies of knowledge out there across many diverse disciplines to help us grow and develop our skills

    Librarianship is inherently interdisciplinary, and we can use that to great advantage
    In order for each of us to become stronger leaders and practitioners of our profession, there are a lot of skills we can draw from other disciplines and professions
  • In order to be truly successful and effective in our professional practice, we need to develop multiple intelligences

    Often Framed in terms of IQ/EQ or Technical skills vs People skills
    The skillsets often categorized in the world of professional development as Hard Skills and Soft Skills
    But it’s not a dichotomy, and as leaders in our field we need to look at the way we integrate different skill sets

    Intersection of skillsets

    What makes each of us here a successful library professional and leader in our field is the way we can synthesize skillsets and use them in conjunction with one another

    Knowing how to use the tools
    Engaging in an effective reference interview
    Being able to communicate
    Assessment skills
  • Everyone here has a set of skills I will refer to as Library Skills – gained through education and experience
    Technical skills unique to our profession, centering around the organization and provision of access to information
    Often this includes transferrable skills, but the things I count as “Library skills” are usually somewhat limited in their direct application outside the library field

    Often professional development and continuing education focuses on these skills,

    But Training that only applies to the direct responsibilities of an employees’s current role is not enough.
  • Another part of the puzzle is what I often hear referred to as “Business Skills”
    These are the kinds of skills that are truly transferrable between professions, although their particular applications may vary
  • Hard Skills – the brick in the wall

    Learned in formal setting
    Rules stay the same regardless of company/library

    Programming languages
    Data analysis
    Library – Using reference resources (must be combined with ss reference interview)

    Maybe the skills you build the foundations of your business practice on, but that foundation is not made of bricks alone. It is only as strong as the mortar that joins them together

  • And it is in this mortar where we find the so –called “Soft” skills that join hard skills together in conjunction with out library skills

    Data from several recent reports (Business News Daily, Udemy report) tells us 72 % of companies focus on hard skills development
    This does generally not help at all with developing Soft Skills

    Additional research has revealed that employers consistently rank so-called “soft skills” as the most desirable skills they look for in hiring new talent, as well as being the skills companies most wish to see their workers develop. Other research has indicated employers rank SSs as the most difficult to develop in their employees

    Soft Skills
    Sometimes seem easy, taken as a given, underestimated, under appreciated
    Often not supported enough
    Intangibles, difficult to measure and assess, difficult to learn and improve
    Best developed as a practice

  • Development of Soft Skills may be reaching a point of being more important than ever – and essential in libraries
    Librarianship is a customer service based profession – and in a profession like that, essential hard skills are nothing without the soft skills

    The robots are coming
    AI, Automation, etc are predicted to have a very significant impact on the workplaces in general within the next ten years

    Some experts are predicting a “Fourth Industrial Revolution” where a new wave of rapid automation takes over another level of jobs and responsibilities in many fields.

    But a People Profession such as ours cannot rely on machines alone.
    We need a renewed focus on Soft Skills in order to keep libraries providing services that continue to align with our core values
  • Let’s look at some specific Soft skills important in any profession but essential in libraries.

    The way I think of them is in four main categories that are all interrelated

    Today I’m doing the short version of this talk, so I will be focusing on Cognitive and Interpersonal Skills, but I will quickly mention a few from the other two categories as well

    Organizational Skills such as Time Management and Values Based Goal Setting
    Personal Skills such as confidence, assertiveness, motivation and adaptability
    Not unimportant, essential in their own right, inseparable from the others
    Some of the most sought after qualities listed by hiring employers in 2017

    Included in the long version online
  • Making Connections

    Critical Thinking
    Problem Solving

    Includes analytical behaviors and thought processes
  • One of the “Soft Skills” foundational to developing others
    Also one of the most difficult to learn

    Boils down to a willingness to take risks, and enabling creativity in ourselves and in others requires breaking down barriers that prevent us from taking risks – done in an active and deliberate manner

  • E. Paul Torrence “Father of Creativity” (Creative Manifesto for Children – 1983)

    Advice that has stood up - not only in an educational setting, but in the development of more modern business practices. Educators influenced by his work used it to educate a generation of students who then brought those teaching into the workplace
    Creativity is not a focus in schools today - STEM

    Good advice for growing as individuals, learners, innovators, and leaders

    Focus on mentoring, identifying talents, and risk taking has been influential
    Translates well into a modern business environment where Soft Skills are more and more valuable

    Especially when education has more recently been steering away from SS
  • More recently, the work of Sir Ken Robinson delves into the areas of creativity, risk taking, and curiosity and the relationship of these to educational and business success, and to innovation

    Educators focusing on Creativity today

    Identification of and Examination of barriers to creativity
    From tradition and habit
    Perceptual blocks
    Emotional blocks
    Resource constraints

    And look for ways to remove these barriers through
    Practicing of convergent and divergent thinking
    Pursuing new experiences
    Seeking out differing POV
    Incorporating opportunities for Collaboration
    Making time to think and study
    Making time to engage in exploration, discussion, and play

    Our mission as leaders within our field is to identify ways we can remove barriers to our own creative development, and provide others with the same freedom
    Within the bounds of the practical constraints of the workplace and in alignment with the core values of our profesion

  • More recently, the work of Sir Ken Robinson delves into the areas of creativity, risk taking, and curiosity and the relationship of these to educational and business success, and to innovation

    Identification of and Examination of barriers to creativity
    From tradition and habit
    Perceptual blocks
    Emotional blocks
    Resource constraints

    Our mission as leaders within our field is to identify ways we can remove barriers to our own creative development, and provide others with the same freedom
    Within the bounds of the practical constraints of the workplace and in alignment with the core values of our profession

    Creating an environment where people can safely take risks

  • Development of creativity is closely related to the ongoing development of critical thinking and problem solving.

    The more individuals are able to develop their creativity, the more they are able to engage in critical thought processes and apply their creativity to solving problems

    Critical thought takes what we learn form engaging in a creative practice and ties it back to the constraints we removed to get into our creative mode
    Harnesses creative thought within the bounds of what’s practical and leads us to finding smarter, more innovative alternatives to solve real life problems

  • Work being done to help encourage more of this in business and professional development

    Methods for performing qualitative analysis or outcomes analysis
    Logical analysis techniques (deductive reasoning, etc)
    Argument analysis
    Design thinking

    Design thinking –
    Approaching problems as non-linear (opens possibilities)
    Engaging in a cycle of revisiting and revision as a way to make progress
    “Fail fast” mentality

    Tim Brown – creating a structure that makes it easier for people to bring non-linear, creative thought into a framework that allows for connections to be made between creative inspiration and practical situations

    G David Hughes (professor of business, UNC Chapel Hill specializing in sales & marketing, business education, advocate for incorporating creativity into business practice) –
    suggests models for decision making that REQUIRE looking for alternate solutions as part of the process
    Recommends taking the problem solving process out of the office & into “innovation spaces” to encourage creative solutions (take your meeting to a zoo or museum)

  • Take creativity and Critical Thinking/problems solving skills and add an element of experience and incorporated feedback --- Judgement

    But judgement is not only a function of experience

    Judgement can not be exercised or practiced without a structural framework that supports both coming up with new ideas and solutions, but also for supporting critical feedback

    Organizations looking for their employees to exercise judgement must establish an environment where suggestions, solutions AND criticism are actively encouraged at all levels

    Developing better judgement by critically examining the way we make decisions
  • Decision Making

    A good model for thinking about how people make decisions –
    Chris Argyris, building on the work of S.I. Hayakawa and Alford Korzybski, and articulated further by William Isaacs and Rick Ross

    The fundamental problem here is that the Ladder carries us rapidly away from our actual, lived experience into a cloud of abstraction, where it can be extremely difficult for reality to penetrate

    This ladder of inference shows...that the evaluations or judgments people make automatically are not concrete or obvious.
    They are abstract and highly inferential.
    Individuals treat them as if they were concrete because they produce them so automatically that they do not even think that their judgments are highly inferential." [Overcoming Organizational Defenses, pp 88-89]

    Work from bottom up, then return to beginning – Reflexive Loop

    Use this to become more aware of the decision making process and examine it critically
    What is influencing our decisions – recognizing this helps us identify logical fallicies and other flaws in our decision making process
  • Intelligent disobedience – Ira Chaleff
    An important part of developing good judgement is the practice of ID

    Defying authority with good reason
    Often encountered in reference to training service animals
    Now used as part of business technique – risk management strategy

    In order to have an organization the benefits from ID, leaders must create a culture where ID is accepted and criticism is welcomed as part of a healthy feedback and improvement process

    Empower people to speak up
    Invite candor
    Train people to be assertive without being aggressive
    Management needs to pay attention
    Chains of ID – multiple people speaking up in support of one another
    A responsibility to speak
  • Communication
    Project Management (overlaps with Organizational Skills)
  • Includes
    “Oral and Written Communication Skills”
    Public speaking
    Non Verbal communication
    Brainstorming and elements of collaboration
  • Communication paths
  • Communication networks
    (All channel)
    Wheel, circle, chain , hierarchy – all with pros and cons depending on the circumstances

    Must cover all of the possible paths – complicated enough on its own
    Also consider
    Communication types Oral, Written, Collaborative, electronic medium
    Communication styles
    Language, jargon, and cultural influences

    Self disclosure
    Degree of emotional involvement

    What we say, who we say it to, when we say it, why it’s said, how it’s said
    Also who what when why how we hear, respond, and act on information

    Bottom line – communication is extremely complex, and we are not as great as it as we may think – as information professionals, there is always room to improve how we handle information via the complexities of communication
  • Developing communication skills – not just practice of what we already do, but also incorporating new ideas and challenges

    Alda Center for communicating Science – SBU School of Journalism cross disciplinary

    New ways to help intellectuals (scientists) become better communicators of information
    Incorporating writing, drama, performance skills, audiovisual methods – all of develop new and

    Flame Challenge – Answer the question “What is Energy” in a way 11 year olds can understand and identify with. 21K 5th graders are the primary judges - $1K prizes to encourage creativity in communication

    We, too are intellectuals who need to learn to use our voices better, and we should learn from this example of creative risk taking
    Experiment with different mediums, techniques, give ourselves challenges to learn from

    As much as the scientists gained from the exercise of communicating the meaning of Energy, maybe we could benefit from explaining what a library is or what information is to 11 year olds
  • Effective communication does not happen without empathy – understanding and sharing in the feelings of others

    The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner

    Empathic Communication

    Valuable tool to consider: Non-Violent Communication techniques
    Active listening
    Recognition of
  • Empathic Communication – studied a lot in relation to medical professions, counseling, etc

    Takes a lot of self awareness and practice

    Close, active listening
  • Empathic Communication models stress the roles of

    Active Listening
    Discerning needs

    All based on a strong level of Emotional Intelligence

    Methods from Non-Violent Communication have proved valuable for me for Conflict Resolution, Change Management, Professional Relationships
    Marshall Roseberg and Others
    Observing without Evaluating
    Self disclosure
    Formulating Requests

    Resources from the center for NonViolent Communication
  • Working effectively with others within our professional environment towards a common goal

    Absolutely dependent on
    Shared Values
    Clearly defined goals
    Cooperative sense of motivation

  • Finding relationships within our communities where values, goals, and desired outcomes overlap
    Leveraging these areas of overlap for mutual benefit of everyone involved
    While there are some exceptional examples of this, it’s an area of our profession that will not develop without intentional focus on identifying these opportunities and developing creative ways to connect the dots and create interorganizational efforts programs that help meet mutal goals

    Many unexplored opportunities to develop partnerships between different kinds of libraries (academic, public, special, school) with overlapping stakeholders and community aspirations
    We need to make space and create a framework that supports activelycreating these opportunities

    Red billed oxpecker
  • For me, this is the discipline that has helped bring all of this together

    PM is a complex discipline
    Not just the delegation of tasks, or making to do lists
    Not about software

    Methodologies for getting things done efficiently
    Managing overlapping and sometimes conflicting demands and constraints

    Synthesis of hard and soft skills
    Hard skills from other areas of Business expertise (accounting, budgeting, it stuff, estimation, etc) but with a LOT of SS mixed in
    Requires the mastery of many of the skills listed individually here today

    Includes time management, risk assessment, exercising creativity, judgement and critical thought processes, loads and loads of interpersonal skills

  • In order to become a certified PM, experience and success developing soft skills must be documented and demonstrated (not just course work, test)

    In order to become a certified PM, experience and success developing soft skills must be documented and demonstrated (not just course work, test)
    PMI “Talent Triangle”
    The ideal skill set — the Talent Triangle — is a combination of technical, leadership, and strategic and business management expertise.

    Technical: skills, competencies, and behaviors related to performing a job in the specific domains of project, program, and portfolio management
    • Requirements gathering
    • Project controls and scheduling
    • Risk management
    • Scope management
    • Agile tools and techniques

    Leadership: Leadership is the ability to articulate a vision and guide or influence others to help achieve that objective
    • Communication
    • Negotiation
    • Conflict management
    • Motivation
    • Giving/receiving feedback
    • Influencing
    • Problem solving
    • Team building
    • Emotional intelligence
    • Creating a vision
    • Aligning the team to a vision
    • Ethics

    Business and Strategic: overall understanding of business context.
    • Business acumen
    • Finance
    • Operational functions—for example, marketing, legal
    • Strategic planning/alignment
    • Contract management
    • Complexity management
    • Customer insight
    • Go-to-market strategy
    • Decision making

    I personally enjoy delving into this field (for many reasons) – but primarily because it is such a challenging discipline due to the necessity of mastering and coordinating so many soft skills and joining them with “hard” skills for the overall impact

  • With these (and other) soft skills in mind, we have an opportunity within our profession to enhance our skillsets far beyond simply focusing on Hard Skills
  • As librarians, we are not doing a job, we are practicing a profession

    We need to incorporate active modes of continuous learning into this practice, and make that ongoing quest to improve our skills more interdisciplinary

    Approaching the development of these skills as a practice
    Self identifying areas you wan to work on and devoting time and energy to intentionally peruse the development of these skills
  • Developing a leadership practice
    For the growth of your own skill set
    To provide a framework for helping others to do so as well

    Creating a culture of leadership where development of soft skills has as high a priority and level of support as “hard” skills
    Don’t just send people for classes
    Give opportunities to learn through practice
    Create an environment where every stakeholder is encouraged to work on soft skills in an intentional way
  • Intentional Leadership – for personal growth and development
    Sara King, Robert Altman, Robert Lee
    Personal leadership model w five elements
    Vision (personal)
    Values (core values)
    Self Awareness (continual assessment)
    Balance (integration between leadership practice and other aspects of personal and professional life)
    Changing context and demands
    Provides a developing a personal leadership practice that operates within the context of ever changing demands and expectations
    Self assessment is key to incorporating this model into a practice of professional growth
  • Professional Development is not about so called “hard skills” alone – and perhaps less and less of the focus should be on that
    We don’t want robots, we want human beings who can do things AI and automation can NOT do
    To be effective and reach our goals, we need humanity.

    It’s our responsibility as leaders in our profession to build our own set of “Soft” skills and to empower those around us to do so as well in a collaborative and supportive way.
    Lucky for us that, although this is a complex and difficult challenge, we have strategies and communities to help us do this. We just have to be intentional about finding them and using them.