Leadership Development Programme

This is probably going to be long and boring… You have been forewarned.

I like to use my blog as a means of professional reflection and to give folks an insight into my job and career. I would like to reflect on something that from the outset seems quite boring but it is actually very exciting and kind of a big deal for me. I really value my own CPD and jump at all opportunities. So when my manager put my name forward for a leadership course “because he sees me as a future leader in the profession”, I was pleasantly surprised and excited.

After qualifying as a Librarian, I am obviously wanting to progress in my career and I would very much like to make a difference and a contribution in the field. Therefore, I am very open to the prospect of leading a team and managing a library – hence my last blog post

The course I was nominated for operates through the Pennine Education Partnership which consists of four colleges from the local area. Colleges can choose to send colleagues at differing management levels ranging from senior leaders to aspiring leaders. Usually they will send new heads of departments and managers onto the course. As a member of support staff, I feel quite lucky to have been sent on this course as it ain’t cheap!

In this post, I will be reflecting on the stuff I’ve learnt on the course so far. This is essentially a write up of my notes. But I figured I may as well share them because these notes might help people who are thinking about leadership & management too.

The programme aims:

  • Develop knowledge and understanding of excellent leadership
  • To build confidence and self-esteem
  • To provide opportunities for participants to learn from the experience of others
  • To develop coaching and mentoring skills
  • To enable aspiring leaders to gain experience in managing change and performance
  • To allow participants to reflect on leadership and their ambitions
  • It involve a Quality Improvement Project (QIP) to benefit participants and their colleges

I have completed two modules so far.

Module 1

Personal effectiveness

We completed a personal badge. It’s one of those activities that makes you feel really awkward when asked to do it but it does actually force you to really take a look at yourself… and the results are hilarious.

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Delve into my inner psyche… My personal badge.

Emotional intelligence

  • This is the topic that resonated with me most as I can be a worrier and I can also get quite stressed (situations and people piss me off – not afraid to say it). Shitty people and shitty situations will always exist professionally and personally but I’d like to handle them better. I want to become the zen master of my own emotions.  It’s a work-in-progress…
  • Emotion intelligence according to Daniel Goleman has four aspects;
  1. Self-awareness – emotional self-awareness, knowing your strengths and your weaknesses (truly knowing yourself)
  2. Social awareness – empathy, organisational awareness (having an awareness of what’s going on around you)
  3. Self management – emotional self-control, positivity, adaptability (not losing your shit)
  4. Relationship management – influence, coaching & mentoring, conflict management, leadership, teamwork (keeping friends and not getting fired…)
  • We then thought about values and motives – it’s really hard to pin these down or maybe I am just a woolly person..? We completed a motive profile and apparently mine is the “achievement motive” which means “meeting or exceeding a standard of excellence and/or improving one’s performance”. This seems fair enough actually… In my personal life I like to improve and set myself challenges. For example, I am always trying to improve my go-to recipes and my workout PBs.

Leadership styles and behaviours

  • We then looked at leadership styles. In my last interview they asked me what kind of leader am I… The honest answer was I have no actual idea. Didn’t say that of course…
  • We did some leadership questionnaires which apparently tell you your leadership style. According to Hersey and Blanchard I am a “coaching” leader. Coaching leaders “clearly define roles and tasks, but seek input and suggestions too”. I like to think that this is the kind of leader I am because I really do value the ideas and skills of the people around me. I do not work in isolation.
  • We did another questionnaire to find out our colour. We considered the leadership behaviours we exhibit at work and rate them on a 1-5 scale. Behaviours included competitiveness, sociability, encouraging, deliberate, sharing, strong-willed, formal etc. Apparently I’m yellow. I’m definitely hasty, enthusiastic and flamboyant so they might be onto something…

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Module 2

Working effectively with others

  • Self-confidence & self-esteem – your reputation with yourself. We talked about the self directed change model where 80% of the time, you work on building your strengths. You only work on your weaknesses 20% of the time. This interested me because I am probably not alone in being overly self-critical. We should all be tooting our own horns a lot more. 
  • I considered the positive things people say about me, how well I can take praise and the things I am good at. I learnt not to become a victim or have a “why me”/ “this isn’t fair” mentality which I definitely have sometimes… I need to continue using failure as an opportunity to learn and remember that I matter, the team matters and the Library matters.
  • Assertiveness (not to be confused with aggression or manipulation). Think about how you want a conversation to playout and always remain calm. This tied in greatly with your ability to manage your own emotions. 10 ways to be assertive:
  1. Be decisive
  2. Take responsibility
  3. Say NO when you need to
  4. Actively listen
  5. Communicate clearly
  6. Say YES when you need to
  7. Ask for what you want – I live by this anyway. If you don’ ask, you don’t get!
  8. Follow your intuition
  9. Take a chance
  10. Stand up for yourself – ALWAYS!
  • Resilience – learning from setbacks, ask yourself what you could have done better. Not letting the shit grind you down! Optimism. I can easily get sucked into negative talk and thinking cycles so this is an area I am working hard on. In our resilience self-assessment, I scored 65 which = “resilient, but could improve more”. Insightful. Choose your battles carefully and just always remember to consider the wider context of your life and work and the home lives of others. There’s more to life than what’s going down in the office. Thinking like this makes it easier to worry less.

Delegation and empowerment

  • Empowerment is delegation done properly – give responsibilities to people and do not interfere. I am not fully there yet with this as my partner will know full well. When he’s cooking dinner, I just cannot help interfering! I like to make sure things are done right. I do just need to let go and trust in his ability – he is a perfectly good cook.
  • Managers do not have to experts all of time – we work with talented, competent individuals and we should trust them. If they can’t do something, help them to be able to do it. Or find them something that they can do.
  • To effectively delegate you need to clearly communicate the job you are asking someone to do, specify outcomes, specify a timescale, provide support, give them ownership of the task and the freedom to do things differently and to even fail.
  • Effective delegation creates win-wins for all involved.

Managing performance

  • Capability and conduct – “can’t do it” VS “won’t do it”.
  • Characteristics of a “stuck” departments/ colleagues – depressed colleagues, stress, lethargy, negative talk, underperformance .
  • Helping a “stuck” dept or colleague – be observant, informal 1-2-1s, free up workload, offer to delegate, empower and support them.
  • Managing upwards – can be scary dealing with senior leadership and managers. Understand their leadership style, think about the desired outcome of the conversation, provide evidence, be realistic, be confident, show diplomacy and flexibility and always be professional.
  • Work relationships are two-way! NOT just top down and you should never be made to feel inferior by your “superiors”. As much as our managers are responsible for us, we also need to take responsibility for how we are “line-managed”

Climate and culture

  • So important. Can impact greatly on motivation, performance, productivity, happiness, well-being and staff retention.
  • Climate = “how it feels right now”, people’s feelings and impressions of what it’s like to work in a particular place
  • Culture = “the way we do things around here”, habits, unspoken rules and values
  • Climate/culture = 70% leader/managers attitude. Not sure how this figure came about but it’s a scary statistic. Managers can make work life a living hell but on the flipside, they can also make work extremely enjoyable and can make employees feel happy, valued and important.

Difficult conversations & situations

  • We did some role-playing activities where we acted out difficult conversations/ situations and attempted to deal with them. In my hypothetical situation, I was a teacher by day and a strippergram by night. You can imagine the difficulty of this conversation…
  • Be honest and brave but don’t demoralise – try to re-motivate and encourage self-awareness
  • Be supportive and open to change but don’t over-promise. Don’t take over, empower them. Get to know them as a person.

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Module 3 – to be completed

  • Understanding ethos
  • Vision and mission
  • Authentic and ethical leadership
  • Strategic awareness and thinking
  • Building outstanding teams
  • Reflection on career progression

QIP

As a new addition to my role last year, I became an administrator for our new learning management system, Canvas. As part of the course we are asked to do a quality improvement project and I am going to be looking at support services, communication & marketing with a special focus on Canvas.

What do I want to know? ​

  • What communication tools are students most receptive to? ​
  • Current awareness of Canvas?​
  • How can Canvas be used as a communication/ marketing tool for support services?

My manager put a word in for me and managed to bag me a slot at a heads of department and senior leadership away day today. The College principle, four members of SLT and over 10 support managers were at the away day. Delivering a presentation to a room full of “seniors” was a little bit terrifying! To be the authority on a topic and to advise colleagues feels really good.

I felt like a “real professional” – whatever that even means. I am getting better and better every time I deliver a lesson, a talk or a presentation and even though I still get nervous initially, I now that I can do it. And I enjoy it! It was a really valuable experience for me as a Librarian and as a future leader.

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#proudpoutmoment

If you read this, I salute you and love you.

 

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Youth Libraries Group Conference 2018

I was recently very lucky to attend the Youth Libraries Group Conference in Manchester. Work paid for me to attend on the Saturday (tiny bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to attend the Enid Blyton midnight pyjama feast though). The conference explored the importance of reading as a key plank in library provision and the impact it can have on children, young people and their life chances.

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The conference programme can be viewed here: https://www.cilip.org.uk/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=1059241&group

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I registered and got a fabulous canvas bag to add to my collection.

The welcome session was delivered by Matt Goodfellow, a stockport based poet.

http://www.mattgoodfellow.yolasite.com/

Matt’s high-energy performance made me feel like a child once again. I think Matt’s session may have been the highlight of the day actually. He was so funny! My favourite poem was Chicken on the Roof which required some audience participation… It certainly woke us up and set the tone for the day…

There’s a chicken there’s a chicken there’s a chicken on the roof. So catchy!

Booktrust Reading Segments Research

Jill Coleman presented key findings of recent research into the reading engagement of children aged 0 – 16. The research breaks down the types of families that exist when it comes to engagement with books and reading for pleasure.

Families will start reading to their children when they are around 14 months old and generally the family reading activities start to slow at 7 years and 7 months. The segmentation identifies different types of family and reading engagement. The report is available from the BookTrust website 

Breakout Session: Readers & Rights with Rowena Seabrook (Human Rights Education Manager, Amnesty International UK)

In this session, we explored ways in which literature can be used to explore human rights and to challenge, empower and motivate young people.

Rowena showed us Take Up Space by Vanessa Kisuule which I had not seen – it calls on ALL women to stop shrinking themselves and to TAKE UP SPACE! Vanessa is my new favourite person. Her talent is off the chart!

We explored the human rights issues behind two very different books: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and There’s a bear on my chair by Ross Collins

Despite There’s a bear on my chair being a children’s book, the activity is appropriate for all age groups, including adults. As a group we read the story and put a human rights bookmark in the pages we thought addressed or touched upon an important concept. The bookmarks had basic human rights printed on them: fairness, equality, knowledge, truth, safety and freedom. We then discussed how the book addressed these issues and talked about them in more detail.

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We did a similar activity with The Hate U Give. We were given photocopied extracts to read and discuss. The extracts were thought provoking and led to a very rich group discussion.

Putting human rights at the centre of a book club is something I am now planning on doing after attending this session. I am also going to use, share and build upon the *brilliant* education materials provided by Amnesty International to help our teachers to use literature to explore important issues. Amnesty really have done all of the hard work, check out their resources if you are unfamiliar.

https://www.amnesty.org.uk/cilip-carnegie-and-greenaway-medal-shortlisted-books-2018-and-human-rights-story-explorer-resources

Finally, Rowena introduced us to Words That Burn: an international project for young people that explores human rights abuses through poetry. I think we can all agree that there is nothing more powerful than poetry. Amnesty have again provided free teaching resources that I encourage you to check out, use and share https://www.amnesty.org.uk/issues/words-that-burn

I left Rowena’s session feeling empowered and inspired!

Keynote

Frank Cottrell Boyce, acclaimed screenwriter and Carnegie Medal winner gave the keynote speech after eventually arriving in Manchester after some car trouble on the motorway (not what you want before a keynote). He was fabulous though of course. He talked about the joy of reading and shared anecdotes from his childhood; my favourite being the kind librarian that allowed him to borrow a big, expensive reference book.

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Life Online by Andrew Walsh & Nicola Morgan

I LOVE that Andrew refers to himself as a playbrarian – he’s a genius. I must admit, Andrew is a bit of an idol of mine. I love his work promoting information literacy through play – especially escape rooms! I’ve been to several of his workshops and I’ve got 3 of his books. The latest I’ve purchased is The librarians’ book on teaching through games and play (9781911500070). It’s a would recommend!

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Andrew highlighted the new versions of the TeenTech research smarter sheets which are a staple in our library http://www.teentech.com/teentech-awards/supporting-materials/

He also introduced us to the new CILIP information literacy definition https://infolit.org.uk/new-il-definition/

In case you were wondering what info lit is, here’s the new broad definition:

Information literacy is the ability to think critically and make balanced judgements about any information we find and use. It empowers us as citizens to reach and express informed views and to engage fully with society”

Nicola Morgan, author of over 100 books, then took the stand to talk about life online. I choose this breakout session as we support students via our shelf help collection and I am personally, probably, a little bit addicted to my mobile phone…

Nicola picked some key points from her latest book Teen Guide to Life Online. She did state that the title is misleading as this book certainly is not just for teens. Her website is full of useful information and this page contains links and references to the research and articles which Nicola thinks will help people to understand what’s going on when we use our screens. Nicole likened screen addiction to many of the other addictions that plague modern life. To overcome them:

  1. You have to want to change your habits
  2. You need to know why you should change

Excessive screen time can lead to a variety of problems including mental stress, exhaustion, low self-esteem, distraction, loss of concentration and a reduction in physical activity. Unfortunately, just being around a mobile device is distracting. Having a device near you leads to a 10% reduction in performance! Screens and online content are designed to distract you. It’s not your fault that you cannot resist.

If you want to lower your screen time. Nicola advises you to:

  1. Keep them out of view (out of sight, out of mind)
  2. Distract yourself with other activities (pick up a book perhaps). Don’t sit twiddling your thumbs, dreaming of your mobile device.
  3. Create manageable goals – i.e. I will not use my phone for the next hour
  4. Seek help from those around you – remind them not to send you hilarious memes and cat videos every 5 minutes
  5. Keep reminding yourself why you are doing this – it is good for your mental health and productivity in the long run
  6. Notice the benefits – are you able concentrate better? (intrinsic motivation)

Mobile phones and devices do have their benefits but they also come with their own host of problems. I am not a parent therefore cannot comment on the convenience of giving a mobile device to a child to keep them quiet and entertained… but I am a little uncomfortable with the idea. One of the video diaries from the Family Reading Segment research shows a little girl in her cot. Her mum tells her that it is time to read and the little girl starts crying “but I don’t want to read, I want to play on my iPad”… and this made me a little bit sad.

I came home with so many goodies and books – the publishers were very kind and generous. The best book I came home with was My name is not Refugee.

My name is not refugee

The book asks young children ‘from a safe, comfortable background’ to think about what it must be like to ‘leave your home and make a journey into the unknown’. The illustrations are so beautiful and heart-breaking https://www.independent.co.uk/student/student-life/books/student-s-refugee-crisis-book-for-children-wins-va-illustration-award-a7051776.html

I gave my neighbour who has 3 children most of the books – the look of joy on their faces says it all. Books really are magical and this conference is a must for any librarian.

Thing 10 – Hangin’ out on Google

rudai_tweet_When I first saw this post I contemplated signing up but then got a little bit scared by the fact that it would be aired online for everyone to see and resigned myself to be an observer…

But when I was approached to take part I couldn’t say no because the whole point of this course is to learn about new tools and to try things that I am not familiar with. It’s just an online chat with people… I can do that right!?

I was worried about a few things to begin with:

  • Worried my laptop would play up
  • Worried that the microphone wouldn’t work and I would sound terrible
  • Worried that I wouldn’t be able to connect and join the conversation (technical difficulties)
  • Feeling self-conscious and worried I would say something silly in front of a lot of people

I sat down about an hour before the start time to set up my microphone and prepare for the discussion. The email the Rudai23 team sent me was really helpful and covered everything I needed to know. Here are the example questions which I prepared for:

Can you introduce yourself and tell us where you work?
What’s your favourite thing?
How do you manage your time?
Are you enjoying it?
Are you looking forward to any of the upcoming things specifically?
Do you find the course a lot of work?
Did you think the course would be this much work?
Have you applied any of your knowledge in a practical sense yet? Although there hasn’t been much time for that yet!!
When or how do you think you would use each of the things in your library setting?

My laptop worked fine and I literally just plugged the mic into my laptop and that was it. I then logged into Google + and waited (I was a little bit worried how easy it was – I was convinced I’d missed a trick but it really was that easy). They just called me into the Hangout and I just had to click a few buttons that was it, we were online!

I am really happy that I took part because it was a really good experience. Because I had prepared some answers to the questions I felt it was easy to get involved in the conversation. The only difficulty is timing – so speaking when no one else is speaking otherwise it is very difficult to hear what people are saying. Overall I think we did OK with this though and everyone had their chance to speak and get involved. It would be easy to spend at least on hour on there because it takes a while for each person to have their say and we only got through a couple of questions in the 20 minutes.

The only drawback of Hangouts is that if you can’t get online and join the Hangout, lose your connection or the connection isn’t great in the first place it can make the experience difficult. But this can’t really be helped by anyone and should be considered when doing things online.

I will certainly be involved in the next one because it’s great fun and it’s nice to see everyone and have a real chat. If you have an agenda and a list of things to talk about like we did and the technology is reliable then I think Google Hangouts is a really useful tool. It would be really useful in the library to share a meeting with people who can’t make it in person. I think there is a lot of potential and I am going to explore it a little further. I haven’t hosted my own yet so I might have a go with that next.

Thanks again Rudai23! 

I am currently completing a free mobile learning course that teaches social media through social media for professional devlopment.

I am currently completing a free mobile learning course that teaches social media through social media for professional devlopment.