Early thoughts on talent development & management of BAME staff in Libraries and Archives

No to Racism

Lately, I have been thinking on the topic of talent development and management in Libraries and Archives. I have also been learning and discovering further the issues that BAME staff face in having a support model for career progression within Libraries and Archives. It would be fair to say that BAME staff are, generally speaking, frustrated with: lack of support; micro-aggressions; inequalities in recruitment; job descriptions that disadvantages them in a systematic fashion; lack of opportunities to develop relevant experience; lack of acknowledgement of potential; and higher expectations from them than that of white colleagues. In some cases, this frustration is growing in anger and most importantly in activism that is generating positive debate and change. Particularly organisations like DILON and individuals have played a critical role in shifting the conversation from discussion to action, and driving CILIP, SCONUL, RLUK, TNA and other organisations to take a strong note and think strategically and operationally about the core issues that led to this lack of diversity and support in the first place. I am extremely pleased that there is an active debate in the sector, and that this has brought this topic to senior leaders attention, but I am also worried

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Part two – So you want to be a Director of Library and Archives? Reflections from the first twelve months.

So where do I begin? A thank you seems like a good starting place. Thank you to everyone who gave me really positive comments on my previous post. Especially on how you could relate to the challenges that I reflected on in the first four months of my new role at that time, and how it allowed you to feel like you are not alone in this. Some of you mentioned that it was brave of me to openly say that I don’t have all the answers and how it would make others feel about me. My response on that is no body really has all the answers and if we, as leaders, can not admit that, we will not be able to listen, understand, and appreciate the comments and feedback we receive from our users and our staff fully. So what has changed in the past eight months. I would say quite a lot. Most importantly, something clicked with me during the end of my sixth month in this role. I am not sure if I can explain this very well but it is a lot to do with confidence that comes with doing things. In summary, I felt

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So you want to be a Director of Library and Archives? Reflections from the first four months.

First of all, two apologies. First one for not updating my blog for almost five months and the second one for the long title of this blog post. I have been in my new role (Director of Library & Archives) for around four and a half months now, and it has been a great experience so far. There are certain things I learnt very quickly, which I am sharing as no one really tells you about this when you make a move to a Director level role. My first reflection is on handling the initial pressure that comes with a Director level leadership position. This would vary to some degree across institutions, but basically, there is a lot more expected of you when you become a Director. There is no explicit mention of this, no one will ask you to work odd or more than usual hours. However, this will be mostly driven through self-criticism and peer pressure, both within the organisation and across organisations. Let me elaborate this further. When you join a new organisation, you realise that you took a lot of things in your past organisation for granted. Your relationships and networks develop over time, your knowledge

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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,

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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

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#bonington – the journey is only beginning.

Today was the concluding session for the #bonington leadership programme at Lancaster University. For those of you who don’t know much about this particular programme, it is aimed at future and aspiring leaders of the University, building our own capacity to lead from within but also to build the workforce that can instigate change, provide challenge, and encourage diversity of thinking. At the end of the session, Lois, our wonderful convener of the programme, asked how we felt in our individual journeys throughout the programme. I will be honest. When we started six months ago, we were a group of skeptical (ok may be partly skeptical) individuals who wanted to know more about leadership and progression. We have now become a group of forward looking, emotionally intelligent and empowered individuals who want to work together in many directions. We have not yet transitioned into effective teams, although there have been glimpses of that throughout as well and we are not far off from reaching that stage. Most importantly, we have formed a network of colleagues that we can call upon, that we can share with, that we can rely upon. I did not realise how emotionally invested I have been

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