Written by Martha Hutzel, Library Director, Central Rappahannock Regional Library
As leaders, we all talk about leadership, we think about leadership, we read about it and study it, and we practice it on a daily basis. But what are we doing to pass on that knowledge, and train and educate the next generation of leaders? After all, isn’t knowledge meant to be shared and imparted to others? In addition, what do we need to do, or maybe start doing, to create leaders in our own work environments? Creating new leaders should be part of your organization’s daily operating plan as well as your succession plan, but it takes time, effort, commitment and money.
Most staff are scheduled for very full days, with little down time for learning, let alone taking time for leadership training. However, I strongly recommend every organization MAKE the time and budget the money to allow staff to attend leadership seminars, attend training courses, take online webinars, and attend conference sessions on leadership, but above all encourage your staff to read about leadership. There are hundreds of books on the topic, not to mention podcasts to listen to, magazine articles to download and read, and other leaders to connect with, either in person or online. The Central Rappahannock Regional Library has plenty of books and magazines, both in print or electronic sources, on leadership development. In addition, the library also subscribes to the online video learning tool, lynda.com, available free to anyone with a CRRL card, and there are many videos on leadership available through that service. They can viewed from any computer or mobile device with internet access.
If you’re concerned that attending annual state and national conferences in your chosen profession is just a boondoggle, then ask your staff to report back on the sessions they attended and discuss with you what they learned and how that may benefit them professionally and help your organization move forward. Don’t forget that networking and connecting with other professionals at these conferences are also great learning opportunities, and often result in new, creative ideas being shared and brought back to your business for your benefit. If your budget is tight, consider sending your newer, younger staff, who may have never had an opportunity to attend a professional conference, instead of your staff who have attended for years and may be looking at retirement soon anyhow. Investing in your future staff is an investment in your organization, and in your clients, since everyone will benefit.
Many younger employees are not really certain what leadership is, and they may assume they are not one even if they are, but they can usually spot a bad leader pretty quickly. I recommend a strong mentoring program, either formal or informal, in every organization, as a great way to cultivate tomorrow’s leaders, and to encourage your newer or younger employees to develop a sense of their own leadership style and skills. Devoting the time, attention, and effort to both leadership training and a mentoring program will always pay off in the long run and I guarantee your organization will benefit from the results. Again, there are many books, articles, training videos, and podcasts available on the topic of mentoring, from setting up a program to being a mentor, at Central Rappahannock Regional Library, or online. In addition, if your business is a member of the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce, consider sending your future leaders to the Chamber’s Leadership Fredericksburg program. It is well worth the time and money!