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I understand there was a level of fiction involved in this assignment however it was very close to the bone for my real life situation. I found the study of leadership and influence was useful however the realities of implementing change from the centre poses challenges that I found hard to correlate at the time.
The real situation is that I do have a visionary principal and she has given me a broad scope to design a new 21st century learning space. A real joy it has been to reimagine a 30 year old space. However, my role has shifted in many ways over the course of the year and it has been interesting to note the personalities that influence and lead in the school. Some of the main challenges have been;
1. Involving integrated studies (a new curriculum idea within the school) and the arising conflicts of having four classes in the library simultaneously.
2. That this is my first year at the school (first placement as a TL) and familiarising myself with names, let alone political alignments and alliances has been a challenge. But the study of leadership styles has been interesting to watch.
3. Trying to fulfil extra duties to ingratiate myself with the new staff. I have attempted to move with the current. I’ve allowed staff to tell me what their expectations are of the library are and meet these needs, even if the style doesn’t match my image of 21st century practice. For instance, one of our teachers likes cutting out sections of the newspapers as a group exercise. Unfortunately, I had purchased the digital editions. It was still possible to cut and paste, however, it was certainly a hurdle I’ve stumble across.
I can see this will be a long term process.
Throughout the course I have enjoyed the idea of leader as storyteller as referred to by Gardner (Bennis, 1996). The historical perspectives are particularly inspiring. Although I don’t claim to be the Martin Luther King of library services the inspiration to keep moving forward with integrity and vision is an important message. I found that through the course there were moments where this inspiring vision was seen in contemporary leadership theorists, most significantly for me was the work of Don Tapscott and his Openness philosophy (Blog Post 3). I haven’t shared my blog with others and have been using it like a box to file away some of the small treasures I have been thinking about during the course. The links between them expose me as a thief. Taking bits and pieces to slowly crystallise my thoughts about this enigma of leadership.
The idea that we take, is also a powerful image. Takers and givers, followers and leaders, we take what we want when we need it. We use whatever we can to serve our purpose at the time (sinister reflections of politics – not only Machiavellian!)
During the course of this semester I became a regular reader of the Harvard Business Review and while much of what I read did not deal with libraries or school leadership the articles were often thought provoking and provided a broader view about leadership. This lead to one of the most challenging aspects of the course for me, I was placed in an uneasy position of trying to determine whose theory of leadership I should most closely follow. Of course, the depth of literature on this subject is immeasurable; however I came to understand that it wasn’t necessary to compare each writer with another. Indeed like most leaders I could borrow from different theories when required, become adaptable to various situations and take the lead in a variety of ways when required.
Despite this realisation however, I still find myself too close to the study to feel completely at ease with a leadership role. I know that I will continue to lead as a teacher librarian can, but I am waiting for greater time to reflect upon the change that has taken place within me and to also acquire feedback from others about how I may have grown. “Leading well, therefore, may require a considerable degree of emotional maturity in dealing with one’s own and others’ anxieties” (Hackman & Wageman, 2007)
I guess I’m waiting to grow emotionally!