Unleashing Your Inner Leader

What is leadership? Most of us would probably struggle to define it—is it a skill or an art, an innate quality or a visible behavior set?—but, to paraphrase former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, we know it when we see it.

What we often fail to see, however, is how we can become leaders, or why we should even bother trying. Becoming a leader typically is equated with climbing the corporate ladder, a career path that not every librarian wants to take.

Savvy information professionals understand, however, that leadership takes many forms and confers many benefits, even (or especially) for those who do not aspire to executive positions. They also understand that leadership doesn’t happen by accident—it starts with a plan that recognizes your existing strengths, identifies the leadership skills you want and/or need to develop, and lays out paths to develop and grow these skills.

SLA offers many such paths, including volunteer leadership positions with committees, councils, task forces, chapters (geographic entities, such as the Washington, D.C., Chapter) and divisions (discipline-specific entities, such as the Engineering Division). By participating in these groups and their activities, SLA members hone their leadership skills while also helping the association further its goals.

For the past few weeks, several SLA volunteer leaders have been participating in an online discussion about how to create and implement a leadership development plan. The discussion thus far has focused on three questions:

  1. What are your strengths?
  2. What skills would you like to develop?
  3. How can you grow and develop your leadership skills?

Many of these volunteer leaders also attended SLA’s Leadership Symposium in New Orleans in January, where they engaged in a day-long workshop designed to help them identify the skills they use at work and within SLA, obtain the tools and skills required to become more effective leaders, and perform to their potential. In June, SLA will offer several education sessions on leadership at its 2018 Annual Conference in Baltimore. These sessions include the following:

  • Best Practices to Foster Leadership Within Your Organization
  • Strategies for Taking On Duties Outside Your Comfort Zone
  • The Accidental INTRApreneur

Want to unleash your inner leader? Join SLA and learn firsthand what thousands of special librarians and information professionals have learned—that SLA’s volunteer opportunities, professional communities, learning programs, and other activities and benefits can help you succeed, no matter what your role, title, or career ambitions.

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