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Wanted: Leaders

Hye-Ran YoonThis year's Magsaysay Awardee for Emergent Leadership is Hye-Ran Yoon of South Korea. She was recognized for her "catalytic role in enabling Cheonan’s civil society to exercise its social responsibilities dynamically and democratically." What I found most striking was that she is not the current leader of the many organizations she started. She began with one organization, of course, but in the subsequent ones, "she articulated a need, formed an organization, identified and trained potential leaders, and then mentored the organization to maturity and financial stability before spinning it off" (emphasis added).

It was not until I got home that it occurred to me that I had just gone through my own version of "Leadership Day." After all, I started the day with "The Leadership Challenge," where Dennis Ycasiano, the speaker, differentiated between leadership and management, but emphasized that librarians need to be leaders and managers. Ycasiano also highlighted the importance of collaboration, instead of confrontation. He used the story of "The 100th Monkey" to illustrate the need for a critical mass or "tipping point" to effect change. And then he asked three questions, which I didn't get the chance to answer at the forum, but which I will answer now:

1. What KEY CHANGE should we make if we are to become more effective leaders of Libraries in the Philippines?

We need to start looking at ourselves as leaders, instead of just managers, catalogers, or reference librarians. And then we have to start thinking and acting like leaders. Not in the sense that actors and actresses play roles on stage or screen, but in the proactive sense. Do we really need to wait to be told that the future has arrived? Is it society's fault that negative librarian stereotypes abound or is it ours? Should we just accept that there's no money for the changes that need to be made? Is there really nothing else that can be done?

2. What is the importance of the 100th Monkey Phenomenon to getting Librarians of the Philippines to exercise exemplary leadership?

We have leaders now, but there don't seem to be enough of them. The first time I attended a library association's meeting, I was told by one of those who attended that the officers of the major associations really just take turns at the leadership positions. Is it possible that there are very few Filipino librarians who have leadership potential or are willing to take on leadership roles? Could it be that, as Hye-Ran Yoon has demonstrated, potential leaders just have to be identified and trained?

3. What can we do to inspire others to adopt this change?

All I can really do at this point is write about the need for leadership... and hope that those reading what this monkey writes will start thinking of themselves as leaders. And maybe, someday, we'll reach that tipping point.

Category: Leadership

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