The road to success.
The "Road to Success" in becoming a director in the field of library and information science is not unlike that of many other fields and professions. It is the element of self-knowledge that will lead one to understand the nature of the road upon which one chooses to travel. Thus, one must know, or at least have seriously thought about, where one wants to go and the obstacles likely to be encountered along the way before one starts the journey. All too often this is not the case.
Part of knowing where one wants to go comes from the knowledge attained in the educational process. For those seeking success, a beginning point will be based in management courses. Library management courses traditionally include the concept of management by objectives, that is, managing by setting and accomplishing goals and objectives. The goals and objectives of the library, the larger organizational structure of which it is a part, and the individual must be consistent to achieve any level of success. As an individual in a library who aspires to become director, it is essential to understand the nature of both the library and the parent organization.
Three key questions should be asked in seeking this understanding:
1. Is the organization rigid or flexible?
2. Will my leadership or management skills be more conducive to
3. Are there opportunities available internally and externally to the
organization that will assist me in developing the necessary skills
to be a successful director?
The issue of the perceived and actual differences between leadership and managerial skills is important because this can influence how an individual is perceived. In looking at the differences in leadership and management skills, several questions readily come to mind with respect to these differences:
1. Are there, indeed, any differences between leadership and
managerial skills? If so, what are they?
2. Are leaders born and are managers trained/educated?
3. Can management courses transform natural leaders into efficient
managers who can both lead and manage?
The thrust of this article deals with the operative question, Do library management courses provide the necessary knowledge for natural leaders to become efficient managers? The perceived and actual differences between leadership and managerial skills have been unclear at times. Indeed, in some instances careers have been destroyed when managerial skills were perceived as leadership and vice versa. These differences will be discussed briefly and then related to how the pertinent information can be incorporated into library management courses.
Paraphrasing George Santayana (1905) in his book Reason in Society, many people do live in this world without any practical interest in life, and one wonders if it is because their goals are too far in the distance to be perceived, or if they allow the proximity of the others to pass unnoticed. Recent systematic studies of library leadership and the characteristics of library leaders have been fully discussed within the profession in several articles (Gertzog, 1992; Kilgour, 1992; Sheldon, 1992; and Spitzberg, 1992). Unfortunately, it appears that there is little awareness of the practical and profound implications of this information to the profession. Thus, one wonders if many in the profession do indeed, as Santayana suggests, wander the professional landscape unaware of the needs of the organization without well-defined personal goals or without a practical means of achieving the goals they do have.
While our professional library education programs have attempted to provide the skills we need to manage libraries, leadership has been viewed primarily as an innate personality characteristic (Sheldon, 1992, p. 391) which is not incorporated into the curriculum. One view perceives librarians as being gateways to sources of information for those in other disciplines who are studying the concept of leadership. In fact, librarians are "uniquely qualified to help the student or scholar efficiently seek the guidance of earlier thinkers as he or she addresses questions about leadership" (Spitzberg, 1992, p. 382). Perhaps the concept has been mostly omitted from the curriculum in part due to such attitudes as, "leadership, much as we admire it in the abstract, is something we suspect in the specific" (Sheldon, 1992, p. 391). An examination of the differences in leaders and managers should precede the development of a model of a library management course which is more relevant to the needs of current library managers and directors.
Leaders and managers have been mistaken at times to be one and the same, but often a good leader is not necessarily a good manager. If leaders are born and managers are created, perhaps it is as Shakespeare has said, "some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em."
While some people become directors due to a combination of education and natural ability, others do so simply by determining what is required to get there and then doing it. This is called the "just do it" approach, and these individuals are doers. Others just happen to be at the "right place at the right time." However, the "road to success" should involve more than having a just do it attitude or being lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. What is required is an understanding of the need to have a vision based on a critical mass of original thinking and supported by experience. This critical mass must be present if the individual is to have any chance of achieving and sustaining an impact in any field of endeavor. Potential leaders must possess a unique and perhaps radical vision of a future if they are to offer guidance to others in the field of librarianship or any other discipline. On the other hand, it is the nature of management courses to stress only those topics that tend to maximize efficiency in an organization. Nevertheless, intrinsic in the concept of maximum efficiency is the seed of change and the means of attaining it even though there is the inevitable resistance to change which might enhance efficiency.
Some library leaders are aware of this need to change. Sheldon (1992) states:
The library leaders interviewed are very much in tune with
current management trends; they have been among the first to
shift away from a somewhat mechanical model of planning and
efficiency focused primarily on assessing needs, selling goals,
etc. The new approaches do not throw out the systematic
approach, but they place much more emphasis on creativity, risk
taking, innovation, and even intuition. (p. 400)
The need for change was also on President Clinton's mind when he stated in his inaugural address that: "Profound and powerful forces are shaking and remaking our world, and the urgent question of our time is whether we can make change our friend and not our enemy." In our rapidly changing environment, "change is something many companies have little choice but to embrace" (Kramer, 1993, p. 4). Therefore, it is logical to conclude that library management courses must also adapt to this ever-mutable environment.
The understanding of the need for change is so clear that Kramer (1992) has developed a nine-step blueprint for initiating change in an organization:
1. analyze the organization's need for change;
2. work to build a vision and common direction;
3. create a sense of urgency--not panic;
4. put a strong leader in charge of the effort;
5. generate a broad base of support for the program;
6. lay down a plan for implementing the change;
7. develop systems, like workshops, to help employees;
8. be communicative and honest; and
9. reinforce the change and institutionalize it (p. 4).
Evidence abounds that social changes have not kept pace with technological changes. In an organization that does not keep pace with such changes, the consequences can be devastating. The need for change was made abundantly clear in the massive restructuring announcement of International Business Machine Corporation (IBM) on December 15, 1992. IBM's inability to adapt to rapid changes in the computer industry from mainframes and mid-range systems to personal computers cost the company nearly $5 billion in 1992 (Bunker, 1993, p. 1). IBM Chairman and Chief Executive John Akers acknowledged, in a prepared statement: "Our financial results are not acceptable to our shareholders. We are taking aggressive actions to improve our competitiveness and profitability by addressing changes that are sweeping our industry" (Bunker, 1993, p. 2).
Change and vision most often accompany one another. Visionary people look, indeed, they search, for change. Yet it seems that oftentimes it is not so much the kind of person an individual is as it is the situation in which he or she is placed that determines one's actions. So, while all great people are visionary, not all visionary people are great. Those who fall into the former category have an understanding and determination to deal with the nature of the social system in which, as Gertzog (1992) suggests, "leadership is an integral part...and is, therefore, always present" (p. 402). Although those of the latter category may possess vision, if the organization in which they are a part is rigid in nature, then those who search for change will inevitably produce an irritation that will more likely be perceived as a hindrance rather than as something promoting maximum efficiency.
Pepsico Chairman and Chief Executive D. Wayne Calloway states that: "The test of management is the nerve to change..." (Kramer, 1992, p. 4). Having a vision with "nerve" is an added element in the formula for success. Thus, self-knowledge, vision, and "nerve" are the necessary navigational tools one needs to chart one's "road to success."
Hap Klopp (1992), author of The Adventure of Leadership, identified six common traits found in great leaders:
1. an ability to act on intuition;
2. an ability to make tough decisions;
3. a global perspective;
4. an appreciation for diversity;
5. a sense of urgency; and
6. an ability to deal with those you do not control (Klopp, 1992,
The six traits that Klopp describes are a mixture of tangible and intangible characteristics. Intuition is an intangible innate characteristic while the ability to make tough decisions can be learned. Having a global perspective requires knowledge that is learned, while an appreciation for diversity requires sensitivity to that which is different. A sense of urgency may involve an awareness of multifaceted dynamics found in almost all organizations and their interconnectivity with the global environment.
The ability to deal with those one cannot or does not control is rare indeed, yet it is something almost everyone has to do almost everyday. By developing communication skills to a high level, by always seeking to understand the other point of view, and by respecting colleagues, managers are less likely to create misunderstandings that make goals even more difficult to achieve.
All too often, differences of a personal nature have prevented a potential leader from becoming a great manager. The essence of leadership in relation to success as a director involves the ability not only to motivate people but also, and more importantly, to get people to believe in an idea and to manifest this idea into action, whereas management involves the most efficient utilization of time. The main component of an idea involves prioritizing the various choices resulting from the process of thinking.
Time management involves the ability to set goals and organize priorities. It is the nature of management courses to help one develop the skills necessary to achieve maximum efficient use of all available resources so as to maximize efficient use of time. Thus the ability to manage time becomes the litmus test for any successful manager. Leaders view time as a variable that can be manipulated and not as a sine qua non.
Leadership, impossible without a well-defined vision of where the organization needs to go, heightens motivation (an emotional factor) while management's basic concern is efficiency (a learned factor). Perhaps what is involved in bringing these two factors into sync, and thus generating this transformation from natural leaders into efficient managers, is having the "right" attitude which consists of possessing what is commonly referred to as "people skills." These skills are considered the most important abilities needed in the future (Stuart, 1992, p. 86).
One type of "people skill" involves the ability and willingness to communicate with everyone in the organization, from the newly hired hourly worker to the president of the organization. Simply knowing how to talk with others or relating well involves effective communication, and this is essential if leadership skills are to be effective. The art of involving others and making them feel a part of the decision-making process stimulates motivation, and it is this participatory process that enhances leadership qualities. Management courses for the twenty-first century must stress the concept of "people skills" as being an integral variable in the formula for success if we are to deal with the rapidly changing business and educational milieus. The nature of leadership does involve certain intangibles and thus is to some degree abstract. However, while it cannot be sufficiently measured, it can be manifested, and library management courses must begin to analyze the specificity of its manifestations.
Institutions involved in the offering of library management courses must seriously analyze the implications of Sheldon's findings and, if necessary, be willing to apply these changes in the curricula. Thus, if library management courses are to continue to be a viable means of properly preparing future library leaders and managers for the twenty-first century, then it is paramount that evaluation and reevaluation of core library management courses be analyzed in light of the rapidly changing dynamics of the organizational environment. The operative question, Do management courses presently provide the necessary knowledge for natural leaders to become great managers? answered holistically is no. With this in mind, an analytical model of a leadership component in a library management course is proposed. It is based mainly on Sheldon's findings which include creativity, risk-taking, innovation, and intuition as the primary factors in the manifestation of leadership abilities.
AN ANALYTICAL MODEL INCORPORATING CREATIVITY, RISK-TAKING, INNOVATION,
AND INTUITION IN LIBRARY MANAGEMENT COURSES
In the evolution of theory, concepts that were found to be useful at various stages are later discarded or modified as analysis grows in rigor. As our understanding grows, systems of classification become more related to the functioning of interacting elements. In time, changes occur such that generalizations about the functioning of these elements are reached that become useful in predicting future events. These generalizations take on momentum such that an analytical model of the behavior of the elements is created. In turn, the analytical model becomes a mental construct which consists of a set of interrelating elements with their interrelations clearly defined (Hagen, 1962, p. 505).
The elements are defined not so much as single independent units but as gestalten or interrelation of the elements--that is, the elements occur not through the summation of separate sensations but in interrelation with each other. Since the elements may vary in magnitude or field strengths among individuals, they have the nature of being variables.
Creativity: (1) having the power to bring into an act or cause to exist; (2) a causation; (3) the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.
Risk-Taking: To venture upon that which involves possible loss, danger, or disadvantages.
Innovation: The introduction of something new.
Intuition: Knowledge obtained, or the power of knowing, without recourse to inference or reasoning.
Library Management Courses
This section contains a description of the concepts that could be included in a library management course based on a modified open system approach. Each of the four concepts identified by Sheldon is discussed. Any model or system that attempts to interact with its environment is defined as an open system. All living organisms "partake of the character of open systems" (Allport, 1960, p. 303). Leadership involves personality traits, and the interaction of these traits with the environment constitutes for this analytical model an open system. Open systems have four criteria:
1. There is an input and output of both matter and energy.
2. There is the achievement and maintenance of steady or
"homeostatic" states, such that the intrusion of outer energy will
not seriously disrupt internal order and form.
3. There is generally an increase of order over time, "owing to an
increase in complexity and differentiation of parts."
4. There is "extensive transactional commerce with the environment"
(Allport, 1960, p. 303).
The interrelation of the four elements: creativity, risk-taking, innovation, and intuition are the evident dynamics of a changing social environment. In essence, they constitute the flux of change. They are interdependent, not independent, of each other. Having one element involves having, to some degree, the others. While the magnitude varies from individual to individual, to the degree that they exist, they interact with each other. This interaction involves personality theories in which many psychoanalytic, psychological, as well as sociological theories come into play.
Creativity brings into existence; it is a causation. Human beings are thinking creatures who interact with the environment, inputting matter and outputting energy. Consequently, there is a cause. Indeed, continuous existence is based on the first criterion of intaking and outputting. That is, the constant interchange of matter and energy sustains our existence. Psychologists have studied the principles of matter and energy in such theories as stimulus-response. It says, in effect, that a stimulus is entered and a response is emitted. The school of thought on methodological positivism suggests that the concept of personality need not exist. Humans can focus attention merely on the measurable manipulations of input and output. The ramifications of the methodological positivist approach are found far too often in management courses that are carried over into the business environment. Creativity must have a desire, and this desire must be pleasurable for creativity to manifest itself. Central to this desire is the concept of success which is by definition attaining one's desired end.
The methodology used in obtaining one's desired end is an application that involves the Socratic method of persuasion. The persuasion technique is usually studied in the social sciences and involves a change in one's opinion by inducing one with a persuasive message from an external source, which can either be a one-way communication channel or a face-to-face reciprocal communication network (McGuire, 1960, p. 345). Specifically, the persuasion technique involves asking one's opinion on logically related issues. The goal is to sensitize one to any inconsistencies that may exist in one's thinking, thus producing a change toward greater internal consistency. This becomes a natural progression toward the second criteria--that is, a steady or homeostatic state.
The second criterion of an open system addresses achievement and maintenance of steady or homeostatic states, such that intrusion of external stimuli will not disrupt the internal order of things. Santayana (1905) poetically addresses this criterion when he states in Reason in Society:
If man were a static or intelligible being, such as angels are
thought to be, his life would have a single guiding interest, under
which all other interests would be subsumed. His acts would
explain themselves without looking beyond his given essence,
and his soul would be like a musical composition, which once
written out cannot grow different and once rendered can ask
for nothing but, at most, to be rendered over again. In truth,
however, man is an animal, a portion of the natural flux; and
the consequence is that his nature has a moving center, his
functions an external reference, and his ideal a true ideality. (p. 3)
The process of change involves dialectics. According to Hegel, dialectic proceeds by a necessary development in stages known as the thesis, antithesis (or contradiction), and synthesis, which represent the process of developing thought as it moves toward completion as well as the stages and development of history. Thus, the modification of the open system encompasses Hegelian dialectics as intellectual tools to be used in encompassing the four elements in library management courses for the future.
Change is a universal cultural phenomenon, and the process of change over a period of time involves the four elements that constitute the dynamics of change. This process becomes dialectic, and the residual effect of the process increases the natural order in that it increases our understanding of our environment. As our understanding grows, it is consistent with the evolution of theory that certain concepts be modified.
Cultural change oftentimes conflicts with cultural conservatism. Conservatism and change in culture are the result of the interplay of environmental, historical, and psychological factors (Herskovits, 1947, p. 48). Risk-taking should be a part of an ever-changing environment. Risk-taking brings about a certain degree of uncertainty. Thus, uncertainty becomes a principle in risk-taking. In physics, there is Heisenberg's uncertainty principle which deals with probability factors. Borrowing this concept from physics, management courses can view the concept of risk-taking not as something to abhor but as a necessity that is best utilized with an understanding of the probability factors involved. These factors can be ascertained in library management courses using the Socratic method of persuasion as well as utilizing the concept mathematically. That is, the doctrine of chance defined as the likelihood of the occurrence of any particular form of an event, estimated as the ratio of the number of ways in which an event might occur in any and all possible forms, should be incorporated into any estimation of the amount of risk involved in any particular endeavor. In an ever-changing environment, it is essential that the concept of probability factors be utilized in the incorporation of risk-taking as an element in library management courses.
Creativity promotes innovation. Cultural change involves innovation in which the concept of need is paramount. The environment utilizes specific things for specific ends and sometimes they are recognized by one with an imagination who understands their values. However, the drive that carries one to new knowledge is a necessity (Dixon, 1928). Thus:
although the casual discovery of new food or material may lead
to its use, if the foods already utilized are insufficient and there
is a need for new sources of supply, a powerful spur is added
to curiosity, and purposeful search is likely to ensue. Necessity
is indeed often the mother of invention, and is likewise the parent
of discovery as well. With the strengthening of this factor of
need we pass more and more definitely into the sphere of
invention, in which the need is met, not by the appropriation
to use of a hitherto unused thing, but by the creation of something new and funcamentally better (pp. 36-37).
An innovator may be one who invents a new machine or a new mechanical process, develops suggestions for a new economic system, devises a new political scheme, recommends a new model, or works out a new conception of the universe. Innovators are the incubators of ideas, and ideas are no less powerful than machines in shaping our lives. Cultural conservatism must understand the nature of cultural change. Indeed, change is essential for any culture's continual survival, and innovation becomes a necessity. Just as it becomes a necessity for culture as a whole, it becomes a necessity in library management courses that attempt to deal with an ever-changing environment.
Habit or inertia may make it easier for one to continue to believe in a given method or approach. Thus, it is possible to avoid doubting any fault by closing our mind to all contradictory evidence. But open systems require open minds. "A method that is repeatedly tried in order to guarantee stable beliefs is the appeal to 'self-evident' propositions--propositions so 'obviously true' that the understanding of their meaning will carry with it an indubitable conviction of their truth" (Cohen & Nagel, 1934, p. 401).
Throughout history, great thinkers, such as Copernicus, believed it to be self-evident that the orbits of the planets must be circular. No mathematician or physicist before Gauss seriously doubted that two straight lines somehow enclose an area. "Propositions which have been or still are believed by some to be self-evident are: that the whole is greater than any of one of its parts; that nothing can happen without a cause. The fact that we feel absolutely certain, or that a given proposition has not before been questioned, is no guarantee against its being proved false. Our intuitions must, then, be tested" (Cohen & Nagel, 1934, p. 402).
The journey on the "road to success" began by stating that there must first be an essential element of self-knowledge which is necessary in understanding the nature of the road. Questions that relate to the understanding of the organization involve knowing whether the organization is rigid or flexible, and whether leadership or management skills are more conducive to upward mobility. Opportunities that assist one in developing one's necessary skills must be fully explored without specific concern to the external or internal relationship to the organization. Perceived and actual differences between leadership and management skills exist. Therefore, it is best to have a clear and well-defined understanding of those differences.
The concept of vision can only exist when original thinking exists; there can be no vision if there is no original thinking. Library management courses for the twenty-first century must include a component which exposes students to original thinking which encourages change as well as guiding them to be original thinkers themselves. Change then must be viewed as our friend and not our enemy. Library management courses must grasp the concept of the inevitability of mutability.
IBM can serve as a lesson to be learned in what happens if an organization does not adapt quickly to a changing environment. The library management courses of the future must be viewed holistically as they relate to the concepts of motivation, people skills, and attitudes. These concepts will facilitate communication in the organization. The four elements of creativity, risk-taking, innovation, and intuition constitute the essence of leadership. Our professional existence gives us no choice but to embrace these concepts in our library management courses. Sheldon's findings confirm a fundamental principle in existential philosophy involving choice. To prepare both leaders and managers to ensure the future success of libraries and information related organizations, library education programs must reorient the library management courses to encompass a holistic approach which includes both leadership and management.
Allport, G. W. (1960). The open system in personality theory. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 61(3), 301-310.
Bunker, T. (1993). IBM caps dismal year with worst loss yet. Investor's Business Daily, (January 20), 1-2.
Cohen, M. R., & Nagel, E. (1934). An introduction to logic and scientific method. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Company.
Dixon, R. B. (1928). The building of cultures. New York: C. Scribner's Sons.
Gertzog, A. (1992). Leadership in librarianship. Library Trends, 40(3), 402-430.
Hagen, E. E. (1962). On the theory of social change: How economic growth begins. Homewood, IL: The Dorsey Press.
Herskovits, M. J. (1964). Cultural dynamics. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Kilgour, F. G. (1992). Entrepreneurial leadership. Library Trends, 40(3), 457-474.
Klopp, H. with Tarcy, B. (1991). The adventure of leadership: An unorthodox business guide by the man who conquered "The North Face." Stamford, CT: Longmeadow Press.
Kramer, F. (1992). CEO briefing: On management and leadership. Investor's Business Daily, (December 21), 4.
Kramer, F. (1993). CEO briefing: On management and leadership. Investor's Business Daily, (January 4), 4.
McGuire, W. J. (1960). Cognitive consistency and attitude change. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 60(3), 345-353.
Santayana, G. (1905). Reason in society, vol. 2 of The life of reason or the phases of human progress (pp. 1-184). New York: Charles Scribner's & Sons.
Sheldon, B. E. (1992). Library leaders: Attributes compared to corporate leaders. Library Trends, 40(3), 391-401.
Spitzberg, I. J., Jr. (1992). Leading librarians: The library and paths of inquiry into leadership. Library Trends, 40(3), 381-390.
Stuart, P. (1992). Getting to the top of HR. Personnel Journal, 71(5), 82-84, 86-88, 90-91.
Tolson, M. B. (1944). A song for myself. In Rendezvous with America (pp. 45-51). New York: Dodd, Mead & Company.
White, H. S. (1987). Oh, where have all the leaders gone? Library Journal, 112(16), 68-69.
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|Title Annotation:||The Library Director|
|Author:||Keys, Ronald L.|
|Date:||Jun 22, 1994|
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