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Earlier this fall, I was invited to attend the 2012 Leadership Institute that was sponsored by the North Carolina Library Association (NCLA). It was held from October 25-28 at the Caraway Conference Center outside of Asheboro, and it brought together thirty representatives of public, academic, school and special libraries from across the state. Our own Wanda Brown was present as the President of NCLA, and a team of both senior librarians and library administrators served as mentors and facilitators to the group.

The Institute brought in several instructors who used a variety of styles to convey specific leadership qualities. Cheryl Gould, a professional learning facilitator (her own description) from California employed an active learning approach with various hands-on exercises. Eric Gladney of the Bryan School of Business at UNCG employed a more traditional classroom approach with a lecture and PowerPoint. Anthony Chow of the Department of Library and Information Studies a UNCG discussed the mission of North Carolina Library Advocacy, even sharing a video that crystalized the role of a library in the lives of ordinary people. Finally, State Librarian Cal Shepherd shared tips on how to repay the investment of the Institute as we move forward in our careers, such as engagement, mentoring, and just enjoying what we’re doing.

We were also given the assignment of group projects to develop over the next year within our institutions, working with an advisor from the leadership team to serve as an advisor. Each participant is expected to present their project at the 2013 NCLA Conference in Winston-Salem. My project will cover how ZSR could respond to the needs of first generation students at Wake Forest, working with the Office of Magnolia Scholars to acquire data and feedback from their students.

A project team was determined by the choice of each participant from seven different books, with each one conveying a different approach to leadership:

  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, by Patrick M. Lencioni. Jossey-Bass (2002).
  • Leaders, Strategies for Taking Charge, by Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus. Harper Collins (2003).
  • Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, by Malcolm Gladwell. Back Bay Books (2007).
  • Leaders at all Levels, by Ram Charan. Jossey-Bass (2008).
  • The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything, by Stephen M.R. Covey. Free Press (2008).
  • The Power of TED* (The Empowerment Dynamic), by David Emerald. WA: Polaris Publishing (2009).
  • The Truth About Leadership: The No Fads, Heart-of-the-Matter Facts You Need to Know, by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner. Jossey-Bass (2010).

Although we had a lot of exercises in teambuilding and technique, we still had the chance to interact outside of the learning environment. The area surrounding Caraway Conference Center is incredibly beautiful, and at that time the colors of autumn were on full display. We had a conference campfire one evening- complete with s’mores, no less- which was a chance to bond after dinner. Games, karaoke, and a night of dancing were also part of the bonds that were developed, with Wanda demonstrating how to do the “Wobble” being a highlight! In all, it was a rewarding experience that I was both honored and fortunate to attend.