Library Leadership: Innovative Options for Building Leadership Competence in the Digital Age

Ann-Louise de Boer, Theo Bothma, Ujala Satgoor


At the core of this paper is Drotter’s Leadership Pipeline, a leadership development model comprising six levels of leadership functions. Each level requires new responsibilities, competencies and thinking preferences (Charan et al. 2001: 17). If we want to develop the new generation to excel as library leaders, we have the responsibility to develop them to let go of the thinking preferences and habits that made them successful in the past. In determining the thinking preferences of Library professionals, the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI®) was used, providing the research with scientific validated data. Both the Leadership Pipeline and Herrmann’s Brain Dominance Instrument® are useful tools in growing library leaders to effectively operate at the next leadership level. Although there exists a considerable body of research on traits, competencies and thinking preferences of library leaders, no research was found on a link between competencies, thinking preferences, and thinking requirements of library leadership positions. This paper presents data of the thinking preferences of 120 middle managers from a diverse selection of library services and link documented library leadership traits, competencies and thinking skills requirements to leadership positions. In order to be able to make the mental shift required for the digital age and to be empowered and enabled to take up leadership responsibilities for the future of libraries, the paper provides innovative options that can be incorporated in a leadership development programme to empower the next generation of library leaders.

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