Blogger Managing Children's Services Committee

Finding Renewal in 2020: Expert Leadership Advice

Taped to the metal cabinet in my work cubicle is a list of tips to “Get Unstuck in 2018” that I printed from author and leadership expert Robin Sharma’s website two years ago. The reminders provide guideposts to help me lead by my best example. I’m struck by the similarities between Sharma’s advice for leaders and the pearls of wisdom for early childhood educators collected from Mr. Rogers of children’s television fame, further strengthening my belief that children’s librarians make the best leaders. Below are my favorite mashups from both experts, Robin Sharma (RS) and Fred Rogers (FR). I hope you find them as helpful as I have in rediscovering my center and redefining my values for guiding a team in the new year:

Tip #1:

RS: “Ordinary people talk about goals. Leaders get them done. With elegance, brilliance, and finesse.” (1)

FR: “There’s a world of difference between insisting on someone’s doing something and establishing an atmosphere in which that person can grow into wanting to do it.” (4)

We’ve all heard the expression, “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people” (Attributed to many, including Socrates, Henry Thomas Buckle, and Eleanor Roosevelt). Sharma extrapolates further, stating that leaders take ideas and see them to fruition, influencing change and making things happen. Rogers includes the importance of culture and environment in his quote, aspects as crucial as strategy when motivating a team toward a shared vision.

Tip #2:

RS: “Know your values. And have the guts to live them- no matter what the crowd thinks and how the herd        lives.” (1)

FR: “Try your best to make goodness attractive. That’s one of the toughest assignments you’ll ever be given.” (3)

What are the beliefs and values that direct your decisions? How are you incorporating them in your work and interactions with others? Do you have clearly stated values and expectations for your team? How are you leading by example?

Tip #3:

RS: “Stop being selfish. Contributing to the lives of others is a great move for more joyfulness and peacefulness in your days.” (1)

FR: “What really matters is helping others win, too, even if it means slowing down and changing our course now and then.” (3)

The best leaders I’ve known have been selfless mentors, eager to encourage others, give back to the profession, and lead by a strong example. Looking for a place to start? Join ALSC’s mentoring program– it’s a rewarding experience for mentors and mentees alike!

Tip #4:

RS: “Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ a lot.” “Say ‘sorry’ when you know you should.” “Keep your promises.” “Write handwritten notes….” (1)

FR: “The greatest gift you ever give is your honest self.” (4)

Manners and appreciation can go a long way when delegating to others. People are more willing to help when they know their effort is valued. And of course, fess up and apologize if you mess up. We’re all human and everyone makes mistakes. Be known for honesty, dependability, authenticity and accountability.

Tip #5:

RS: “Breathe. Deeply. Constantly.” (1)

FR: “It always helps to have people we love beside us when we have to do difficult things in life.” (3)

No one said this was going to be easy- leading a team is challenging! Take time to breathe, find your center, and take care of yourself. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people, both at work and in your personal life.

Tip #6:

RS: “Give your life to a project bigger than yourself.” (2)

FR: “In every neighborhood, all across our country, there are good people insisting on a good start for the young, and doing something about it.” (3)

In addition to having clear values and goals, strong leaders have a sense of purpose and vision. Lead your team toward the common purpose of collective good that is youth services, letting community needs direct your choices and priorities.

Tip #7:

RS: “Be a celebrator of other’s talents versus a critic. Haters never win.” (1)

FR: “The world needs a sense of worth, and it will achieve it only by its people feeling that they are worthwhile.” (3)

Let go of any ‘professional jealousies,’ grudges, or resentment. Negativity will only hold back your team and get in the way. Start 2020 with a clean slate and a renewed belief in positive intentions. Support your team and let them know when you appreciate and value their work.

Tip #8:

RS: “In a world with so much toxicity, be the kindest person you know.” (1)

FR: “There are three ways to ultimate success. The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.” (3)

Being kind doesn’t mean being a pushover or avoiding conflict, it means caring deeply about and advocating for your community, your team, your organization, and your shared vision- while holding yourself and your team accountable. Or, to quote Fred Rogers again, “We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” (3)

In a society with increasing examples of hate and polarity, we can strengthen our teams and our service to the community through a strong vision, shared values, common purpose, and most importantly, with a level of ‘radical kindness’ that would make Mr. Rogers proud.

What are your goals for 2020? What helps keep your team centered and motivated?


Today’s blog post was written by Krista Riggs, Supervising Librarian for Programming and Eservices at the Fresno (CA) County Public Library on behalf of the ALSC Managing Children’s Services Committee.

This blog relates to ALSC core competencies of VI. Administration & Management Skills and VII. Professionalism & Professional Development.

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