Magazine article Information Outlook

The New Secrets to Success: Change, Leadership, and Expertise; Making Change Work for You, Stepping Up to Leadership Roles, and Ensuring You Know What You're Talking about Will Advance Your Career

Magazine article Information Outlook

The New Secrets to Success: Change, Leadership, and Expertise; Making Change Work for You, Stepping Up to Leadership Roles, and Ensuring You Know What You're Talking about Will Advance Your Career

Article excerpt

It is well accepted today that to be successful over the course of our careers, info pros must exhibit a broad range of traits, including developing expertise, demonstrating a keen business acumen, thriving with the continuous changes that occur in the profession. The challenges of the ever-shifting professional landscape in which special libraries exist means that the information professional needs to shape-shift over time--to meet others' expectations as well as their own. Rather than focusing solely on management and industry trends, we need to target personal development, to be ready for the changes in the organization or in the profession.

Special librarians hold a somewhat unique role in organizations, and we should take advantage of the expertise and advice of others, within and outside the organization, if we are to succeed in our profession. The special librarian, whether a new grad, a developing leader, or an experienced manager, holds a balancing role within the larger organization. Also, due to the nature of special libraries, we are as different from each other as the organizations and industries in which we work. Where we are the same, though, is in our need to manage and drive change, to develop our leadership skills through understanding what makes good employees, and to develop an expertise that is valued by our organization and our profession.

Making Change Work

Regardless of the special library environment, information professionals can expect a great deal of change over their professional lifetime, even if we are fortunate enough to work for the same library/organization for that entire career. Some industries see much more change than others do, but technology, economic instability, competition, management trends, etc. will all affect our work and our professional lives.

Being aware of your personal capacity for change is one of the most important factors in being able to manage--and even seek out--change. Self-directed change is generally the most successful, but all change is stressful, whether we are driving it or not. Recognizing the need for continuous change seems to be a requirement for success today. Change helps us to develop professional traits, such as in learning leadership skills, management abilities, and expertise as information professionals. Change helps us to reassess the past and past practices and better evaluate successes. It engenders a reaction that can help us succeed, or creates a situation that dramatically alters the course of our career, whether we want it to or not. How we deal with those changes is entirely personal in nature.

One of the best ways to develop in your career is to take the initiative when others are resistant to change. Carrol Lunau, writing for Feliciter magazine, suggests taking on special projects or help to lead initiatives that will have a significant effect on the organization. This will help to establish you as a change leader, and will help you to achieve positive recognition from your manager. In the past, the ability to be effective in a highly volatile work environment was not the norm, but now we do not have that luxury: "Perhaps the difference today is that we all require these qualities; they are no longer optional assets." (1) Creating a good base of professional knowledge, skills, and abilities is the best way to weather change. If we are always seeking self-improvement, we will be better able to deal with change that has a negative impact upon our professional career, and help us to see new opportunities out of the destruction of the old, or to be able to benefit from those changing opportunities as they arise.

Being a Good Follower

One way to increase your ability to manage or moderate change is to consciously develop your leadership skills--and leadership skills actually develop through follower-ship. In fact, to become a good leader you first must learn what it is to be an effective follower. …

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