Todd Rose at Harvard University was featured in a TED talk that discussed the myth of "average" when applied to people and the concept of designing to the edges, another way of saying designing universally.
"The highest type of ruler is one of whose existence the people are barely aware. Next comes one whom they love and praise. Next comes one whom they fear. Next comes one whom they despise and defy. When you are lacking in faith, Others will be unfaithful to you. The Sage is self-effacing and scanty of words. When his task is accomplished and things have been completed, All the people say, ‘We ourselves have achieved it!’ Lao Tsu -Tao Te Ching
I have always maintained that librarianship is an amazing field because you can essentially help everyone for free. Now it is not strictly true as libraries are supported by taxes and other revenues but for the people who come in to the library, perhaps after a long and stressful day (or life!) they can be greeted by a friendly person who is there totally to help them get their information needs, entertainment needs, school needs and a host of other needs met. Ideally. One leadership model that is in total congruence with this idea is the Servant Leader model.
What I have found
In a position of leadership I have always maintained two things. 1. That you never ask your staff to do something that you wouldn't do. 2. You can accomplish anything if you do not care whose name is signed to it. The tenets of servant leadership support both of these principals.
Servant leaders are characterized by:
While in the business world this model is most prevalent in organizations like Starbucks, Zappos, and AT&T there is the great potential for using this as a model for library management. Many of us are already there.
One of the topics that came up in the discussion was library services during inclement weather. Who knew that we might all get to put this into play so soon. Providing the electricity to the libraries continues to run we can probably expect to see members coming to charge phones and check internet next week if the storm predicted happens with the energy expected. It's time to make sure you have enough leases on your wireless routers. Do you have extra powerstrips? Is anyone lucky enough to have a generator?
This weekend I plan to go out and get an expanded stock of power strips in anticipation.
There is an app promoted in the state of Massachusetts (and I suspect more widely) called "Ping4alerts!" that gives an automatic alert (a ping) when events like thunderstorms, tornados etc. are imminent.
It's now up and running. The more I work on this site the more I realize that rather than being a vague and slightly squishy topic, it is really a concrete and substantial umbrella for many topics related to working with the public and staff with compassion and attention.