BY ABID HUSSAIN
Many people have argued that even though leadership and management are synonym terms, there are certain differences between them. Abraham Zaleznik has articulated that “managers seek order and control and are almost compulsively addicted to disposing of problems before they understand their potential significance”.
In other words, the manager uses well-established techniques to accomplish the goals of an organization. Leaders on the other hand are individuals who answer any question in silence, are patient during the chaos, and avoid premature finalities on important tasks.
There are more than a hundred definitions of leadership but in a nutshell, a leader always focuses on social influence to attain societal and organizational goals with his leadership skills. In a broader sense, the motto of leadership is to motivate people to develop, accept, and carry out a shared vision.
The perception of leadership in libraries varies among organizations. In small libraries, there are either middle managers or group leaders, while in many organizations they recruit librarians on the basis of library education with practical experiences in library affairs. However, to meet the competencies of organizational goals, librarians are sometimes feeling left out and avoid extracurricular activities. In modern-day libraries, people are hiring smart workers to cope with all leadership challenges.
A shortcoming is that librarians in many organizations confine themselves only to the library team, while they should also be evident at all levels of the organization such as trust creativity, innovation, adaptability, and imagination within the organization. Librarians are true leaders and should focus more on problem-solving, efficiency, quality improvement, and effectiveness in the services being offered.
Gone are the days when librarians were confined to the four walls of libraries. Today, librarians are engaged in the mission and vision of organizations. Librarians in the Age of Information technology adjust themselves in organizational climates to achieve the shared vision of that organization. For this, they should use their influential leadership styles. They should motivate others to use the information for the assigned research tasks.
In the leadership phenomenon, the role of librarians is considerable. In today’s age, people in smart organizations are hiring smart leaders with innovative skills and ideas. A similar case can now be witnessed for librarians. Those who are not willing to update their skills are no longer acceptable or suitable for meeting organizational standards.
A librarian should play the role of a cooperative researcher. In this case, they should develop and manage effective services that are helpful to researchers as per the user’s needs. Librarians should support and collaborate with users by enhancing their services up-to the entire satisfaction of researchers.
In academic libraries, the librarians should cooperate with the students, faculty, and researchers in attaining their educational goals. In the preservation of information and library resources, the role of librarians is to understand the organizational structure in order to use the information in existing formats. Librarians should also demonstrate the values and principles of librarianship while trying to achieve the goals of the organization.
Librarians should educate themselves about distance education in an organization. In this regard, they should develop web-based software for outreach to clients. This strategy will make them proactive information providers for the benefit of their organization.
To carry out their institutions’ mission, librarians should play a role as liaisons to the faculty to fulfill their research needs.
In any organization, people often hire staff to lead the organization in the right direction. Librarians will also seek the following leadership qualities to become a great leader.
(a) Understanding your unique role:
The librarian should understand their unique role in any organization. In almost all cases, they are the only academic teacher in a building who engage with different people on a daily basis. This unique role will make them an invaluable resource in literacy and research planning transition.
(b) Act with confidence:
Librarians are capable to attain the educational goals of the organization in the curriculum, student grouping, literacy, and research and technology integration. Hence, they should be confident and hold their head high, and should feel proud that they can offer these assets at any stage.
(c) Empowered leader
An empowered leader is one who enables followers, trusts them and develops followers towards their full potential. Confident leaders provide the necessary support because they acknowledge that “raising others raises them, and bringing down others, only brings them down”. Empowering leadership in the library means they allow the staff to freely share their thoughts and ideas to help them attaining organizational goals.
(d) Visionary Thinker
From the library perspective, if a leader needs to solve the problems of tomorrow, they should think differently from the way they do today. A library leader with visionary thinking will move boldly forward and will not look back. For this, a librarian may set a mission and vision that allows them to thrive in the future.
Leadership always relies on trust. If there is a trust deficit environment in leadership, leaders will neither attract nor retain followers. Trustworthy leadership in libraries always leads an organization in the right direction.
To sum it up, Brian Tracy, an American-Canadian public motivational speaker has rightly said that “leadership is the ability to get extraordinary achievement from ordinary people.”
The writer is a library officer at Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, he can be reached at email@example.com