Blog Posts

Some thoughts on my leadership journey

I was going through some of my Lancaster documents, and I found this note highlighting my 6-month targets during my first year at Lancaster. Looking back at this almost five years later, I felt privileged and humbled at what I managed to achieve in the past five years and where I am today. During my first year at Lancaster, I was developing the research services team, expanding the digital innovation team, and building my leadership style and reputation. I was keen to learn from the best leaders across the educational and commercial environments, and the fantastic Bonington leadership programme allowed me to do that. I also put in a lot of my time in the programme, in reflecting on what I learnt, how it would apply to me personally, and to my team and the Library in general. I would spend hours reading about the different leadership models and what connects with me. Equally important was what didn’t connect with me and reflecting on why that is the case, why a particular leadership approach won’t apply to me, and why I don’t want to deviate from my core values as a leader. Reflection on what may or may not work

Continue Reading

A new chapter

I am starting a new chapter in my professional life. I will be leaving Lancaster University Library after (just over) five wonderful years and would be moving to University of York Library as the Director of Library and Archives. I am really excited, both personally and professionally, and I am looking forward to the new role and working with the wonderful team at University of York Library and Archives. Also, this is a bit of an old news now but it has taken me a while to write this blog post 🙂 This would be the first time I would be working in a converged service environment, called the Information Services Directorate at University of York. My first day would be 13th of August 2018 and at the moment, I am busy finishing things off, ensuring that a good hand over happens for my successor at Lancaster, and trying to get to know the senior leadership team of the Library and Archives at York. This, combined with selling our current house in Lancaster, renting a house in York, and eventually buying a house in York makes it quite a busy but fun time. I have also been away in Australia

Continue Reading

So what’s up?

I have been away a bit from blogging, primarily because I have recently become the father of a gorgeous baby boy (now 7 months old) but also because of the intensity of workload recently. I have been a victim of not being able to create enough reflection time in my life and I have to change that to be an effective leader. For this reason, I am beginning by reflecting and developing a digital vision which will make Lancaster University Library a global leader in digital innovation.  More locally, this vision will cut across all key themes of the University’s strategy, including teaching, learning, research, engagement and arts. I will post my thoughts once I have gone through some of the preliminary work.

Reflections from SCONUL Deputies Group A meet up

The second meet up of the SCONUL Deputies Group A happened today at the lovely Hartley Library at the University of Southampton. The deputies group consists of people who usually report to the Director of the Library or the University Librarian position. A lot of the discussion we have in this group is confidential, and we act within a strict code of conduct. The following are a few bullet points from my reflections on the meeting that should be ok to share. The group consists of incredibly talented people. I have not done this much learning from sharing of experiences for quite some time, and I found this very beneficial. We are mostly but not entirely in the same boat. Culture change is an issue regardless of the organisation you work in. A successful culture change takes a lot of time, a lot of patience, a lot of perseverance and a lot of knowledge of what makes people tick. We are all learning that over time. We are all leaders already and want to become more established leaders. Being an established leader mean that you continuously learn and tweak your leadership style without compromising on your core values. We are

Continue Reading

Inspiring and Motivating Individuals

Team work

During the Bonington leadership programme, one of the key exercises we did was on the topic of identifying our values and being authentic to them. A key value of mine is endless intellectual curiosity and a hunger for constant learning. Hence, I am now doing an online “Leading People and Teams” specialisation through Coursera, taught by University of Michigan Ross School of Business. The specialisation consists of five individual courses which are: Inspiring and Motivating Individuals; Managing Talent; Influencing People; Leading Teams; and a Leading People and Teams Capstone. I have just finished the first of these courses on the topic of “Inspiring and Motivating Individuals” and in this post, I will summarise my key learning from this course. Shared vision and purpose To inspire and motivate individuals, they need a shared vision and a mission to work. Leaders can get obsessed with developing concepts that are intensively future focussed, not bringing the team along with them, causing a feeling of loss, discontentment and not being valued in their team. It is important that leaders develop a vision that is both forward-looking and realistic, a vision that is clear to understand. A clear vision can create a sense of energy

Continue Reading

Creative leadership – qualities and attributes

Bowness - view from our walk

The theme of the Bonington annual retreat for the 2016 cohort was “creative leadership”. Throughout the retreat, we questioned, discussed and explored what creative leadership is, how we define it in higher education institutions, how we can become creative leaders ourselves, and how we can embark on creative leadership across the organisation. Creative leadership has become a necessity to work in the fragile and uncertain higher education environment around us. Based on our workshop and in my opinion, here are the five qualities/attributes/skills that creative leaders need to have in higher education environments. These are: Braveness One of the discussion points during Bonington was whether creative leaders are always brave or rule pushers/breakers. Upon further pondering and reading, I have come to the realisation that this may not necessarily be true. Creative leaders are often better-informed leaders with a self-belief in their own and organisation’s destination. For this reason, they can keep their own and organisation’s focus, take hard decisions, and move forward together with others. They continuously strive to remain informed and instil the same values in their team and organisation. They are more aware of the consequences of the decisions they will make during their journey, making it

Continue Reading

Explore, Reflect, Communicate, Repeat!

Often when I speak to people about innovation, the first question I get is along the lines of “So how do you do it?. How can we do the same at our institution?”. In my opinion, no one has cracked the mystery of how innovative teams develop this core capability. No matter how many books or articles you read, there will always be a different perspective. This blog post provides my point of view. When you are starting to embed innovation in a team, there are some factors you should consider to make the environment as conducive to innovative thinking as possible. Mixing up of people from multiple teams bring new perspectives. Breaking the traditional line management hierarchies allow people to speak up and communicate more efficiently. Having a mission, a shared set of values and associated behaviours provide the team with the core ingredients they will need during tough times. Typically with the introduction of innovation to a group, there are three dimensions people are interested in. These are: 1. Problem solving People would join in the innovation efforts because they want a resolution to a particular challenge. They may or may not have an idea on the solution

Continue Reading

Digital Leadership in Libraries

I have been meaning to write something about this topic for quite some time. In fact, I really want us to do something about this and do it now. As far as I can tell and feel, we are reaching a stage where there is a very shallow pool of digital leaders left in Libraries. We need to take some actions to resolve this situation but our actions at the moment are counter productive for development of digital leadership in Libraries for many reasons. Here is my viewpoint. While I am generalising here, most digital leaders in Libraries start their journey as a technical advocate, developer or professional. They are problem solvers who are brought up in an environment where every problem has a logical solution. They are in control of producing this solution themselves. They don’t have to depend on anyone else. For a technical person, there is a very unique and powerful sense of empowerment and satisfaction when an issue or a bug is resolved or when a new feature is deployed. You should never underestimate the power of this feeling. However, this environment doesn’t require them to develop skills in areas of negotiation, adjustments, give and take,

Continue Reading

IGeLU 2016 conference – Initial thoughts and perspectives

I am on my way back from IGeLU 2016 conference and developers day which was held in beautiful Trondheim, Norway. For those of you who are not familiar with IGeLU conference, it is the largest conference of Ex Libris users in the world (apart from North America) with almost 500 participants from around the world. I was representing Lancaster University Library along with my colleagues John Krug (who is the coordinator of the Analytics SIG and our Systems and Analytics Manager) and Liz Hartley (Assistant Librarian – User Services). In my opinion, there was a definite shift in the focus of IGeLU this year. There were a lot more sessions on Alma, Leganto, campusM and Primo (especially on the new Primo User Interface) and far fewer on Aleph, Voyager, SFX and other products. This also highlights the direction in which Ex Libris wants to move forward and it was clear that Ex Libris has intentions to be a stakeholder in almost all institutional activities related to teaching and learning, research and user engagement. The next area of interest for them is research data management and open access which is an area close to my heart too. At this time, Ex

Continue Reading

The importance of good mentoring

For a few days now, thoughts and ideas have been bubbling in my mind about the future direction of research support and digital systems at Lancaster University Library. However, I also noticed that my thinking was overtaken by concerns surrounding the ideas rather than what those ideas would mean in practice. I wasn’t sure what to do next, I was feeling a bit lost and unsure. I did what any good leader would do in a situation of uncertainty, I asked for help from one of my mentors. I have been very privileged at Lancaster University to have not one but two mentors over the past couple of years. One of my mentors is from professional services and the other mentor from Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. This has helped me tremendously to broaden my exposure and flourish in my capability. Today I want to talk about good mentorship. Good mentors can help you shape your thoughts in your own way. They can take you back to the basics, challenge you and help you question things in the most helpful and appropriate fashion. They help you strip complex ideas into smaller pieces, allowing you to achieve clarity of thinking

Continue Reading

Site Footer

Sliding Sidebar

About Me

About Me

Strategy, Leadership, Innovation and Code Monkeyism

Social Profiles

Tweets

  • Masud Khokhar RT @UoYLibrary: #ThrowbackThurday The university library looking a little different in 1972! We're updating our library services all the ti…

Currently Reading