Deepening the Conversation

thinking about questions of authority, technology, learning, and 2.0 in academic libraries

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Brief pondering on the leadership/management divide

I just came across this quote, and it’s got me wondering –does it treat the Manager fairly? Is it a description of a good or a weak manager? And if it’s description of both Manager and Leader are accurate, how can those chasms be bridged for the goal of developing managers who lead? Are they completely contradictory?

The manager administers; the leader innovates. The manager is a copy; the leader is an original. The manager maintains; the leader develops. The manager focuses on systems and structure; the leader focuses on people. The manager relies on control; the leader inspires trust; The manager has a short-range view; the leader has a long-range perspective. The managers asks how and when; the leader asks what and why. Managers have their eyes on the bottom line; leaders have their eyes on the horizon; The manager imitates; the leader originates. The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it. The manager is the classic good soldier; the leader is his own person. The manager does things right; the leader does the right thing.

– Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leader, quoted in Leadership, June 9, 1992


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Communication management.

I was just reading a post at Jenica’s and there was a line there that got me thinking

It doesn’t matter how much technology you throw at communication patterns, because until people learn to communicate effectively, the technology just facilitates ineffective communication.

It struck me, because I almost never see technology as the flaw in communication patterns.

And I always find it fascinating to get my perspective shifted. I have a tendency to think I’m right. Maybe I’m alone in that, but I suspect not. When I look at flawed communication at my place of work, my gut says it is a mentality, an intention, an approach to transparency, information sharing, what other people need to know, and what we each know about what each other are doing.

It only rarely occurs to me think of the problem as one of delivery, or technology. Which is a little silly, because one example immediately comes to mind: Reflog. When I started at my current (but not for long) place of work, librarians were supposed to use the paper reference log to track comments to each other. Which is exactly the practice I had been used to as a grad student, and as a grad student I religiously checked the reflog clipboard when I started a shift. (I only ever made notes in it as I left, big messages for next on)

I never worked it into my desk routine at MPOW. And I was not alone in that (non)practice

After a lot of persuading and pushing and pulling and eventually caveat, we started using a wiki for reference notes. And, lo, notes were taken, notes were read. It’s not perfect — some of the will is still bent in ways that don’t facilitate information sharing, but it is so much better than before!

What’s more interesting though is how the failure of communication continues to breed failure of communication. Jenica and I work together, and we both care about this issue. But we’ve never had a conversation about communication that revealed we may have very different understandings of the problem or it’ solutions. The problem got in the way of potentially productive conversations and solutions.

I’m going to try to make an effort to make a note every time I am confident I am right, and try to have a conversation with someone involved about the issue. Because being right isn’t always what matters — everyone else’s perspective is just as important when it comes to making change happen.

And being right doesn’t matter if nobody else agrees, right? 🙂