Recently, I read and summarized the book, Bad Leadership, by Barbara Kellerman, for the Actionable Book Club. It’s certainly not a pleasant experience to dwell on the dark side of life; in most situations, we tend to think it’s better to talk about the positive examples. Kellerman’s book gives clear examples of what bad leadership looks like and where it can take an organization. At best, bad leadership results in inertia. At worst, complete disaster for an organization, with ripple effects of destroyed lives and careers.
Michael Shoop, management consultant and a former government colleague, has a strong interest in understanding toxic work environments. He and I have had a few occasions over the years to discuss the damaging effects of bad leadership, and the pain and destruction a toxic personality can cause within an organization. Recently, I mentioned to him that I was reading Kellerman’s Bad Leadership book. After some discussion, Shoop and I agreed that while Kellerman’s book was useful, it leaves one wondering about what to do about it. As Shoop so colourfully puts it “It’s good, but it doesn’t help you find a way out of the swamp!”.
We hear so much about leadership lately. Lots of books, courses, programs, articles, speakers, conferences, consultants and many other resources are available to inspire leaders to be their best. I’m a big supporter of leadership development at all levels in an organization – any organization. In many cases, the underlying message is about self-reflective practice; the more one is aware of oneself and others, the more effective one’s leadership can be.
That said, not every leader is in a management position. Leadership as a topic has become fashionable. One hears so little of management training any more; it’s just not sexy. But the reality is that we need managers who can lead, and leaders who can manage. Sexy or not, both mindsets and skillsets are needed. Jim March of the Stanford Business School put it: “Leadership involves plumbing as well as poetry”. Continue reading
As a young mom, participating in a book club met a lot of important social and intellectual needs for me. While those needs eventually shifted as my children moved on to school and I took on a bigger role in the work force, I still treasure those bonds that were established with a unique group of women from different professions and perspectives. My life is richer for the relationships and experiences that grew out of that book club experience.
I’ve been thinking a lot about book clubs lately. While book discussion groups have been around for centuries, there’s been a phenomenal rise in popularity of book clubs in the past couple of decades. Reading is alive and well – a healthy book culture combined with a basic human need for social connectedness is a winning combination. Continue reading
This past weekend, our library held a community event called Connection, Acceptance and Community: an Unconference, in partnership with the school district. Last month we held an event In Honour of the Community Commitment to Truth, Healing & Reconciliation, in partnership with Truth and Reconciliation Canada. A few months back, we put together a Newcomers Networking with Local Businesses event with support from Training Innovations. In all cases, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
Working collaboratively with community members and partner groups, staff modelled inclusivity and compassion. I am immensely proud of the commitment, professionalism and range of talents and skills that are employed by the folks who work in our library. As I witness their professional growth, I see their confidence and capabilities expand. They are creating safe and respectful opportunities for important community conversations and connections to take place. They are taking a leadership role in partnering effectively with other organizations and building the Library’s social capital within the community.
Over the past few months, our Parkgate branch library has introduced the concept of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and a ‘pilot MOOC’, using MIT’s massive open online adaptation of its Introduction to Philosophy. So far, it’s been a fabulous first experiment in hosting a MOOC for our community. And for me, the coolest part is that the idea to launch a pilot MOOC came from our patrons. (See Libraries Build Communities for the back story.)