Tuesday, June 16, 2015

SLA2015 : Trust, Loyalty & Initiative: What does it mean to be a leader?

Speaker: Commander Benjamin "BJ" Armstrong (US Navy), @wwatmd

Armstrong noted that his opinions are his own and not those of his employer or the U.S. Government.  He is here a a civilian.

Leadership is not about school solutions or equations.  It is not about scientific perfection. 

Trust can be difficult for some leaders. It can seem ineffective.  However, it is a key component of leadership. One of the things that distinguished Admiral Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) was the trust that he put into his sailors.

Nelson also trusted the voice within himself. 

A.T. Mahan (1840-1914), reseacher and author, believed that trust was important to leadership.

William Sims (1858-1936) examined whatittookto be a good junior leader. He looked at "mission command" style of leadership. What does the junior office owe his boss? (1) Loyalty. (2) Initiative.  These two things are in conflict with each other.  Loyalty without initiative works if both sides are operating the same way.  The balance between loyalty and initiative is key to a junior officer/manager success.

Subordinates must trust as will.  For example, they must trust that the leader sees the bigger picture. They must know when to trust the leader and when to take initiative.

Self-reflection is an important part of maintaining the balance.  Trust comes through thoughtful reflection.  

All of us - including librarians - can benefit from being better leaders.

Nelson, at dinner every night, received input from his officers about what the ship was doing.  He believed in receiving input.  

Sims recognized that he didn't have the perfect right answer and so crowdsourced some answers and processed.

According to Sims, the trust in those that work for you should be implicit, until they prove you wrong.  For those that you workfor, be more circumspect.  They must earn your trust.

How does an organization's leadership rebuild trust? People need to demonstrate initiative in creating trust. 

There is a difference between giving personal opinion versus professional opinion of your office.

Can leadership be taught?  Do you need a foundation of information? Yes, there are some practical elements that we all need to learn.  You need to encourage those that have some leadership skills to become better and to improve upon what the know. People need to keep developing their skills.

Learning what people have done in the past can help us understand what questions we need to ask to help us move towards the future.

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