Team Leadership and Management
Not all leaders are managers, and not all managers are leaders. What does it mean to be capable of managing or leading others? Managing and leading diverse projects and teams, as well as the ability to understand the communication and leadership behaviors that influence workplace performance and client satisfaction are all key skills for both library leaders and managers.
At various points throughout their career, information professionals will find themselves needing to manage or lead a diverse array of team members in order to complete a project or achieve some other mutual goal. In order to actually lead, information professionals have to be capable of understanding various communication behaviors, so as to influence the best possible result from each team member. These behaviors are not isolated to team members alone; information professionals acting as leaders must also examine their own leadership behaviors in tandem with their communication skills. Additionally, both communication and leadership behaviors influence client satisfaction, whether that client is an internal stakeholder or an external patron.
As a future information professional with aspirations of becoming a leader in a library environment, this goal directly plays into my ability to demonstrate my leadership skills. To be seen as a capable library leader, I will first have to show that I understand the leadership and communication behaviors of other individuals in leadership positions. Additionally, it will be up to me to find ways to emulate desired leadership and communication behaviors within the context of my job duties. Every person in a workplace contributes to its overall “culture,” which in turn influences client or patron satisfaction. If people feel as though they cannot communicate with leadership, the workplace culture will be repressed or contentious. It is equally important to be aware of positive communication and leadership behaviors as it is negative ones; both will serve to aid in moving up the job ladder in a library environment.
A course I used to demonstrate my ability to manage and lead diverse projects and teams, as well as understand communication and leadership behaviors that affect workplace performance and client satisfaction is a current course, the fifth course in the Research and Professional Applications series (LIM 591E). As my internship course, it has given me the opportunity to actively employ what I’ve learned throughout my academic career thus far. One such opportunity where I lead a diverse team was the #DataRescueDavis event at the UC Davis Peter J. Shields Library, part of the large Data Refuge project and the End of Term Web Archiving Project. I wrote about the experience and what it taught me about library programming in a blog I am currently writing alongside my classmate.
#DataRescueDavis Blog Post
Artifact course context and relationship to program goal. As part of the LIM 591E internship class, students have different experiences in a variety of different library environments. For myself, as a library intern at the UC Davis Peter J. Shields Library, I’ve had the chance to put many of the skills I’ve learned to good use. One example is the #DataRescueDavis event, where I got to lead a diverse team of students and community members during a one-day event in the library’s new Strategic Data Initiative space.
Though maintaining a blog (Sweet, 2017) isn’t part of the course requirements, I wanted to record the work I am doing throughout my internship and the lessons I am learning as I apply my MMLIS education to work at a real library. While not recounting specifics the same way my instructor-only journal is for the course, my blog post highlights how what I learned at the #DataRescueDavis event can be applied to library programming –including how it involves working with others to make programs successful– in general.
Roles, responsibilities, and process. Over the course of the #DataRescueDavis event, I led a number of students and other community members by helping them understand the purpose of our project –to back up data from government websites not just as a response to vast changes proposed by the current administration, but as part of a traditional presidential End of Term Web Archiving project– as well as assisting them with downloading the necessary Chrome extension, familiarizing themselves with the fields, and getting started nominating a particular government web page (where possible). I kept track of who nominated what web pages, answered questions, helped with technical problems that arose, and assigned new pages as people finished. My role necessitated that I work hands-on with others to achieve a mutual goal –to do what they were doing, using the same tools and processes– and acknowledge and resolve any problematic communication behaviors so that we could effectively work as a team.
Skills and abilities. The #DataRescueDavis event required that I use several skills from WebJunction’s Competency Index for the Library Field (Gutsche & Hough, 2014). These include Digital Resources Technology, Hardware, Networking and Security, Operating Systems, Public Access Technology, Email, Web Technologies, and Software Applications skills. Already being familiar with Google Drive (including Docs, Sheets, and Slides) helped immensely, especially since so many of the files provided to us by the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Program in the Environmental Humanities (PPEH) Lab were in these formats. Additionally, during the event, I had to use Google Sheets to track my team’s progress in our assigned sub-primer; with everyone working from their own starting URLs, I frequently had to stop to update the sheet and email that individual a new URL to start on (if they didn’t have to leave).
Working with others at various stages throughout the event, I also utilized several skills in the Personal/Interpersonal set, such as the Collaboration skill. Everyone participating in the event had the common goal of ensuring the continued availability of the EPA’s data, but not everyone was on the same page as far as how to go about doing that. By acting as a Guide or team leader, I was able to effectively help others help us– and likely thousands of other students and researchers.
This also involved many opportunities for my Leadership skills to shine, as I was given complete direction over my team. Though the event organizers (Kevin and Vessela) also participated in nominating pages and occasionally served as Guides for their own small teams, the Guides didn’t interact with each other– teams were generally separate, tackling their own sub-primer of EPA offices. This meant it was up to me to help others work in accordance with the greater UC Davis Library event goal (archiving the EPA’s website), and also inspire them to trust their own judgment about what was crawlable and what was not.
Despite attending several lengthy webinars in advance of the event, I actually had to learn and innovate on-the-go on the spot, since I hadn’t gotten the opportunity to actually use the Nomination Tool extension ahead of time. Similarly, I didn’t know what website I would be helping to archive, so there was no way of knowing what pages might look like to get an idea of what “uncrawlable” would actually look like to me. I had to critically examine websites, a page at a time, looking for reasonable links to elsewhere on the same office website to push the crawler to get as many pages as possible, and figure out what to do when the content wasn’t where it should have been.
Future Work Environments
As the WebJunction Competency Index puts it, unless “you work alone in a cave, you must interact productively with others in order to accomplish your own and your organization’s goals” (Gutsche & Hough, 2014, p. 7). Throughout my academic career, multiple professors have emphasized the importance of knowing how to manage and lead diverse projects and teams. Additionally, library leaders and managers must understand communication and leadership behaviors that influence both workplace performance and client satisfaction. Library leaders and managers often don’t have a choice in who they will work with, even if they have some say in hiring processes. For that reason alone, it is crucial to get experience working with teams of different sizes, and with members from different backgrounds. The process of working with diverse teams will highlight the variety of communication and leadership behaviors people have and respond to, and how they influence workplace performance and client satisfaction. The experience of working with many different teams enables information professionals like myself to prepare for multiple scenarios in future work environments, and develop best practices for overcoming common obstacles.
Gutsche, B. & Hough, B. (Eds.) (2014). Competency index for the library field 2014 (2nd ed.). Dublin, OH: OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.webjunction.org/documents/webjunction/Competency_Index_for_the_Library_Field.html
Sweet, M. (2017) Save That Data! Unexpected Adventures in Academic Library Programming – The Library Interns. Retrieved from https://libraryinterns.meredithsweet.com/library-programming-adventures