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You have your own unique leadership story: how you showed leadership to others, even those who don't report to you. This can include your colleagues, your boss or the whole organization. You can show leadership simply by convincing others to think or act differently, either by example or by promoting a better way. Others are interested in reading your story to see what they can learn from your experience.
Date: November 19, 2011 Name: Robin Gottieb
Background: Professional Librarian with several years of experience, largely in Public Libraries.
How leadership was shown: Effective communication involves honesty and respect -- the foundations of trust, which is vital to successful librarian-patron relations; without it, there is little chance for real connection with the communities we serve.
At one Reference Desk, librarians routinely presumed doubt toward patrons, refusing to loan them pens, despite having a drawer-full. Disturbed by their attitude, I questioned the practice and was informed that, "the library can't possibly lend pens to everyone who asks or we'll never have any ourselves." When I noted that we had plenty and patrons only asked to borrow them, they scoffed, saying, "Come on - you know they'll never return them!" Dumbfounded by my co-workers blatant cynicism and its implications for customer service, I rejected their assumption and chose a different tack. When patrons asked me to borrow a pen, I looked them in the eye, saying, "Here you go – could you please be sure to bring it back? We're always running short." If a bit surprised, customers invariably confirmed they would. Ninety-five percent of the time, patrons returned the pen directly, held my gaze and said, "Thanks, here's your pen back," illustrating trust's indispensable role in human connections.
Outcome: Happily, I can report that after observing my approach for a time, my co-workers adopted it themselves, resulting in improved customer service specifically and warmer community relations in general.
Leadership strengths: My greatest strengths - communication skills, creative thinking and compassion, along with a distaste for injustice - launched me into a leadership role. Librarians must assume the best in our patrons - they will almost always rise to the challenge.
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