Lisa Chow is a 2011 SLA Rising Star, former DBIO Medical Section chair, and 2010 Library Journal Mover & Shaker. She received her MLIS from Pratt’s School of Information and Library Science in 2009. Lisa is half of People Interact, a consultancy that empowers libraries and other organizations to be people-centered. Find out more at http://bit.ly/lisachow. Lisa will be participating in the Rising Stars and SLA Fellows Roundtable on July 15th at the SLA 2012 conference in Chicago.
As a new information professional, I’ve been asked “How do you develop or gain leadership skills when you’re not in a leadership position?” As Donald H. McGannon said, “Leadership is action, not position.” It’s about what you do.
There are many opportunities to lead without title. Here are some of my experiences and suggestions:
1. Get involved with planning and coordinating events.
It can be an existing event or something new. In a matter of weeks, two colleagues and I put together the Library Workers’ Skill Share event in summer 2010.
2. Take on a leadership role in an association like SLA on student, local and national levels.
While attending Pratt, I got involved with SLA@Pratt. Last year, I served as the SLA DBIO Medical Section Chair.
3. Propose ideas and take the lead on them.
This doesn’t necessarily have to be the workplace. It can be internships, volunteer positions, submitting a proposal for a conference program or poster session, etc. In the past few years, I have pitched ideas, worked on various projects (unconferences, pilot of a reference service model, etc.), and presented at national and local conferences.
Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to facilitate roundtable discussions on the topic of leadership. The handouts are available via this link. I hope they’re sources of inspiration and ideas.
Henry Mintzberg said, “Leadership, like swimming, cannot be learned by reading about it.” So go ahead, dive in and lead.