It is clear that as a manager, the teacher librarian has their own domain to lead. While anyone who cares about improving students’ education is an educational leader (Crotty, 2011, Module 1 interact module notes), it is clear that a leader is the lynchpin that provides the direction and vision for those they lead.
Citing Bennis, Donham (2005) outlines leadership attributes:
- technical competence- set of skills and knowledge
- conceptual skill- conceptual understanding of information systems
- people skills- collaborative networks
- judgement- decision makers
- character- set of beliefs
- Leaders know and respect the limits of their circles of influence.
- Leaders act from an internal locus of control- the person has the power to control the outcome of his or her actions
- leaders look within their circle of influence for a solution
- Leaders are ‘can-do’ people who look to themselves to make programs great and inspire others to join in the enterprise
- Leaders are proactive people who look for change opportunities, anticipate and prevent problems, take action and tend to persevere.
- Leaders understand what they are best at and pursue what they are already deeply passionate about.
Leaders have a vision. According to Fullan (Donham, 2005) a vision should have 3 attributes- sharedness, concreteness and clarity. Outlined, this is the degree to which this vision can be shared with others, others have a concrete image of it and the degree to which people are skilled to carry it out.
In order to make a vision realised, TL’s require collaborative skills- ability to communicate effectively; ability to listen actively; ability to negotiate; the ability to earn professional confidence and the technical skills of abilityt o organise information sources effectively.
The leadership TL’s hold is collegial rather than superior. Therefore, TL’s need to lead through influence.
According to Reeves (Donham, 2005), Strategic leadership is simultaneously executing, evaluating, reformulating strategies, focusing on most effective strategies to achieve desired outcome. This requires setting standards for performance and then measuring the performance against these standards.
Cited by Beare, Caldwell and Millikan (1989), Caldwell and Spinks outline the ‘Collaborative School management Cycle”-
- Goal setting and needs identification
- Policy making- policies consisting of statements of purpose and broad guidelines
- Planning of programs
- Preparation and approval of program budgets
All the above information appears to be sound common sense to me, although no doubt not everyone would consider it so. I admit this isn’t a topic that I am excited by, but as leadership is an important part of the role of teacher librarian, it is important to understand how to do this properly.
Ultimately it is about ‘change’. Good leaders are continuously evaluating the effectiveness of their role and programs. To do so requires a clear vision and an ability to manage change for themselves and the people who work with them.