Saturday, January 23, 2010

Managing and leading

Do you see yourself as a manager or a leader?

I recently heard some provocative assertions* about the difference between managers and leaders. Suddenly it got me thinking about my personal and professional comfort zone; it also had me pondering how others perceive my role of School Librarian. I challenge you to try these titles on for size and see what feels like a comfortable fit!
  • Managers plan and budget. --- Leaders establish direction and cast vision.

  • Managers develop policies and processes. --- Leaders align people and resources to accomplish a vision.
  • Managers control and problem-solve. --- Leaders motivate and inspire.
  • Managers create predictability and order. --- Leaders produce chaos and change.

So, what do you think . . . what's the most accurate fit for you (and our profession)? Is the role that feels like a comfortable fit, the one you want to play? Is this the mental model of "21st Century School Librarian" that we want others to understand? And finally, what opportunities for personal and professional growth can you envision?

Let's get the conversation going about where we are and where we want to be. Where do you cast your vision? I'm looking forward to your comments!

Don't forget -- Deanna and I invite guest bloggers to join us in our conversation as we "hang around the library". If you're interested in joining the conversation on this blog, please let us know.

Kelly Brannock

*(comments on leaders & managers heard at a "Leading Beyond the Walls" presentation by Adam Hamilton)


  1. Great conversation to start, Kelly! Martha Hayes, school librarian in Asheville, NC, and I facilitated a session at AASL on teacher leadership. We brought up these very ideas about the difference in managing in your library media program and leading your program.

    Leaders have vision. They research trends and take action. Leaders rally others to success. They design curriculum. They are disciplined to reflect on their practice and change if necessary. Leaders are risk takers.

    While much of my day is spent managing, I want to be leading as well!

    Deanna Harris
    NCSLMA President-Elect

  2. I feel like there's a place for both roles in the library. For example, I'm not sure how effective I'd be in establishing and inspiring a vision for the library, if I didn't plan and budget. That said, I think problems can arrise when one becomes stuck (either by choice or relegation) in any single role. As school librarians we wear a billion different hats and each requires the right balance between management and leadership - the key is to find that balance.

    Great post!