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LEADERSHIP CONCEPTS AND THEORIES began appearing in the library literature in the late 1980s. By the 1990s a number of leadership development programs were being offered that were designed to develop librarian leadership skills. The programs had various objectives: to improve career development of early and midcareer librarians; to provide access to underrepresented minority groups in management; and to develop leadership skills. These programs, primarily multiday and residential in nature, employed a hybrid mix of training methods, including focus on leadership styles, self-discovery, and emphasis on skill-building. Despite the proliferation of these programs, evaluation research about them has primarily focused on self-reports from participants about their learning and their satisfaction with these programs. Systematic evaluation research, particularly utilizing a control group design or providing a longitudinal assessment, has not been widely conducted in the field.
SECTION ONE: LEADERSHIP THEORIES AND LEADERSHIP TRAINING: AN OVERVIEW
One of the leading management texts defines leadership as "The ability to influence, motivate, and direct others in order to attain desired objectives" (Hellriegel & Slocum, 1992, p. 467). Defining leadership seems straightforward, but explaining how leaders lead and, more importantly, what skills they use to lead, is a much more complicated and complex issue. Presumably, the designers of leadership development training programs have an underlying concept or set of concepts explaining what leadership means and how leaders can be developed. Below we outline some core assumptions behind various leadership development programs.
The first fundamental assumption is that leaders can be developed. Long a fiercely debated topic, it is now accepted as true. Modern leadership training is firmly based on the belief that individuals can be educated, trained, and developed to be leaders. A second assumption important to the discussion of leadership training is the belief that management differs from leadership and that managers can be transformed into leaders through training and development.
The exact nature of leadership skills remains elusive; the skill set of leaders is the focus of considerable discussion and research in the management literature as well as the library literature. "There is no simple formula, no rigorous science, no cookbook that leads inexorably to successful leadership" (Bennis & Nanus, 1985, p. 223). Leadership research has been built upon different theories of how leaders lead. Trait research focuses on the traits or personal qualities of leaders and stresses that successful leaders have certain abilities, skills, and personality characteristics. Leadership research does agree that certain personal traits and characteristics are especially important for leaders and for the exercise of leadership. For example, leadership researchers Kouzes and Posner identified 225 different values, traits, and characteristics as important for leaders. They subsequently identified 15 key traits out of this larger list. The most important leadership skills are for leaders to be honest, forward-looking, inspiring, and competent (Kouzes & Posner, 2002, p. 25). Taken together, these skills constitute leader "credibility," which is the key factor that elevates leaders above other competent individuals (Kouzes & Posner, 1993). Extensive research conducted by Kouzes and Posner over a two-decade period has attempted to assess what characteristics leaders should possess. Table 1 presents a summary of the most important leadership characteristics and the percentage of respondents selecting each leadership characteristic. Kouzes and Posner repeated their research three times. The data shows that followers consistently picked four characteristics: leaders should be honest, forward-looking, competent, and inspiring. These are the top four leadership characteristics followers expect in their leaders.
Some theories of leadership have been based on the assumption that certain physical, social, and personal characteristics are inherent in leaders. Trait research generally also leads to the conclusion that leaders with certain traits will exhibit certain kinds of behavior and that behaviors are likely to be consistent. On the other hand, research based on behavioral theories of leadership began to focus on the differences in the actions of effective and ineffective leaders, particularly behaviors that affect the performance of subordinates. During the 1970s and into the 1980s leadership began to be viewed as a two-part role. The term leader had been applied loosely to anyone who was managing others--a social role. There also exists a distinct and separate role that describes how a leader might define and structure tasks and the roles of subordinates (Conger, 1992, p. 10). Behavioral theories also began to assume that leaders can act differently as circumstances warrant. The contingency view of leadership, as espoused by Fiedler, House, and others, emphasizes the importance of using certain leadership behaviors in different situations (Fiedler, 1971; House & Mitchell, 1974). Variables such as group atmosphere, task structure, and the leader's positional power are all important to this view. The Ohio State Leadership studies found that an effective leader used a behavioral style identified as "considerate" with followers. "Consideration" is defined as the extent to which leaders have job relationships characterized by trust, two-way communication, respect for the ideas of others, and consideration for the feelings and personal goals of others. A second important characteristic of successful leaders is "initiating structure." Initiating structure is the extent to which leaders define and structure their roles and the roles of others through activities such as planning, communicating, scheduling, and so forth. Taken together, consideration and initiating structure are the two characteristics of effective leaders based on this model (Kerr, Schriesheim, Murphy, & Stogdill, 1974).
James MacGregor Burns (Burns, 1978) extends the Ohio State Leadership model and defines leadership as transformational (a focus on change) and transactional (a focus on process and people). Leadership involves engaging not only the heads but also the hearts of others. Transformational leaders lead by motivating others and by appealing to higher ideals and moral values. These leaders can inspire others to think about problems in a new way. Key transformational skills for leaders are long-term vision, empowerment, and coaching. Transformational leaders are able to create trust: "To create trust [leaders] must have competence, congruity (integrity), constancy, and caring" (Bennis & Goldsmith, 1994, pp. 5-6).
Transactional leadership focuses on the initiating structure--the relationship between the leader and his or her followers. Leaders understand how to motivate followers by inspiring a vision of what is to be accomplished. Leaders seem to be able to pull people toward a large vision and have the capacity to create a compelling vision that encourages people to move to a new place. Transactional skills involve the ability to obtain results, solve problems, plan, and organize. Leaders must also be effective communicators. None of the other characteristics, or a combination of these, will be enough if a leader lacks excellent communication ability. As leadership theory evolved, organizational development experts began to view leadership development as a process; leadership trainers began to focus on teaching leadership skills that emphasized visioning as well as developing relationships and people-oriented skills to inspire others.
In any case, there is an emerging agreement on a number of common attributes shared by leaders. Leaders are more than managers. Leadership and management are typically contrasted with one another. Management is about what things get done, while leadership is about how things get done. Management involves accomplishing tasks, while leadership involves influencing and guiding a course of action. Management is usually understood as a skill set that includes planning, organizing, directing, and managing workers and work activities. Leadership, on the other hand, includes the ability to create a vision of the future, engage others in the cocreation and/or perfection of that vision, describe it in a compelling and powerful manner, and create an environment where stakeholders inside and outside the organization work together productively and effectively to implement the vision successfully. Table 2 summarizes how management and leadership differ.
SECTION TWO: LIBRARIANS, LEADERSHIP, AND LEADERSHIP SKILLS
Leadership as a desired skill or competency did not appear frequently in the library literature until the early 1990s. Don Riggs, in conducting his research for a book on library leadership, found only five entries for librarianship and leaders in Library Literature for the years 1975-1981 (Riggs, 1982, preface). Karp and Murdock (1998) point out that the word "leadership" is not used by Library Literature as a subject heading and conclude that "Leadership as a concept ... seems not to be concretely acknowledged as a legitimate entity that merits clearly identified discussion and definition" (Karp & Murdock, 1998, p. 251).
Many states developing continuing education plans in the 1980s and 1990s did not yet identify leadership skills as a key training issue. For example, the California Continuing Education Plan (O'Donnell & Virgo, 1992) defined continuing education needs in five areas: financial management, management administration, communications/personnel relations, multicultural diversity, and technology.
In this plan leadership skills are defined as a subset of training in communications and personnel relations. One evaluator commented that classifying leadership in this manner "may reflect the fact that in the early 1990's economic and demographic factors were considerably different than they are today.... Under current conditions, leadership training assumes an importance that was lacking a decade ago" (Hinman & Williams, 2002, p. 54).
By the 1990s and beyond, the need for leadership had been well established in the profession. Recruitment became a major issue for the profession as the demographics of librarianship changed. How to fill librarian positions in coming years is an important issue for the field at large. Currently, approximately 136,000 librarians are employed in U.S. academic, public, school, and special libraries. Estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Statistics about library manpower and statistics from the Association for Research Libraries' (ARL) 1990 and 1994 salary surveys (Wilder, 1995, 2002) indicate there is likely to be a serious shortage of librarians by the year 2010, when an estimated 83,866 librarians will reach the age of 65. The Library Administration and Management Association (LAMA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), estimates that one-half of the currently employed library directors in the United States will retire between 2002 and 2010 (Olley, 2002, p. 9).
Diversification of the profession has also been identified as a leadership issue. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s the Council on Library Resources and other professional associations identified a need to increase diversity in the field of librarianship. A number of leadership programs were started both to recruit more minorities into the profession and to develop their leadership skills. ARL currently offers a program for minority midcareer librarians in academic librarianship. The Leadership and Career Development Program has as its purpose increasing the diversity of ARL directors. The (ALA's) Spectrum program and scholarship are also a notable effort to enhance career opportunities for minority leaders. (1)
At the same time, library professionals are becoming aware of the need for leadership skills. For instance, a 2001 survey of continuing education needs for staff in California libraries completed by the Evaluation and Training Institute (ETI) for the California State Library found that more than 40 percent of the respondents had taken leadership and career training in the areas of improving their written and verbal communication skills, conflict resolution, supervision, and stress management; participants also wanted additional leadership training in the areas of creativity, innovation, cultural competency, supervision, and stress management (ETI, 2001).
Leadership training has perhaps also been stymied by a lack of agreement about what constitutes a key set of leadership skills for librarians. Library leadership has typically been described more in terms of stories about individuals. There are few lists of desired characteristics, and there is as yet no accepted core set of competencies, experiences, or aptitudes (Mech, 1996; Hernon, Powell, & Young, 2001; Sweeney, 1994; Berry, 2002). Lynch, in an article on theory and practice in library management and leadership, concludes that the library literature reflects many of the leadership approaches described in general management literature, but she also notes that the contingency and situational models, along with team-based leadership, are the most common orientation for library leadership training (Lynch, 2004).
There is no common vocabulary among library educators or professionals about what constitutes the core body of leadership skills. Added to this issue is the complex problem of defining skills appropriate to librarians working in …