Provide a critical reflection as a final post on your blog on what you have learnt as you examined leadership in depth during this subject. How has this subject extended your knowledge and understanding of the role of the teacher librarian as leader? Refer to your blog post in assessment task one. Compare your ideas to what you wrote in your assessment one blog post, your ongoing reflective journal posts and your participation in the ETL504 forums.
To include a subject on leadership as part of the Master in Teacher Librarianship is a clever move. Do I think all teacher librarians (TL’s) are leaders? No I don’t. Do I think they need to be? Yes I do. Are they given the opportunities to be leaders in their schools? Well I think that one comes down to many variables, one of which is if the TL sees themself as a leader and if they are in a supportive school environment. And so, including a subject about leadership for budding TL’s is vital if we are to lead any change in our school libraries. A pity we couldn’t make it a compulsory subject for school Principals and politicians to take as well!
I began this subject overwhelmed at the leadership theories and seemingly endless characteristics of effective leaders (Eyre, 2013). I found the idea of management not being the same as leadership (Kotter, n.d) both scary as well as amazingly simple. Yes I can clearly see how the two are quite different and yet I find it scary to think of the many real life examples I have of the two being merged into one, unable to be distinguished from each other. I feel this is particularly the case in big faceless organisations where people are required to tow the company line. This is true too of the public education system, which is of course a bureaucratic organization.
The question is then, how can a TL who works in a bureaucracy lead and not just manage? Or is it possible and often necessary to do both? Manage the day-to-day running of the library but lead when change is required? Does leading only occur when change is necessary or can we lead within the status quo?
In my blog post ‘Leadership Confusion’ I seem excited by the idea of understanding leadership from the point of the follower. I find this interesting, as so often leadership is thought of in terms of the leader and the task, which needs to be achieved. This was a seemingly obvious point to consider and yet it had not crossed my mind until the module reading. (Lewis, 2011)
As I look over my last couple of blog posts I see they are filled with many rhetorical questions (Eyre, 2013a; Eyre, 2013b). It appears my study of leadership this semester has created more questions than answers. Whilst reading the module readings I enjoyed the theorizing and the insight into leadership styles, but I seem to have found it hard to synthesise my thoughts into a simplistic idea of what leadership is. Perhaps there is no simple answer – no one size fits all. Perhaps the readings have been telling me that leadership is complex and varied. That it is determined my many factors, some of which we can control and some we can’t. I think this is quite apparent in my posts.
My understanding of leadership is that it can take many forms and must be flexible to the situation. A good leader can recognise the situation and use skills appropriate to the situation. I think this is what many of the module readings reveal (Kotter, n.d: Tapscott). I question in ‘Leadership Confusion’ if studying leadership theory aids us in becoming better leaders, and in fact if it helps us to gain leadership positions (Eyre, 2013 a). I question if we can become better followers by understanding the theories of leadership. Certainly we cannot all be leaders all of the time.
As I complete this subject I have a head full of ideas about leadership. I have ideas about the type of leader I wish to be and indeed the type of leader I probably am. In conjunction with completing Assignment 2 for this subject I can also clearly see how I can lead a library. I think the stumbling block for me is that leadership is not what I think; it is what I do. What I do is inherently linked to me a person and my personality. So I believe leadership to be primarily defined by personality and can be tweaked with an understanding and study of leadership theory.
Eyre, K. (2013). Blog Task 1, ETL504 Blog Task 1 ‘My Understanding and practice of leadership in a school library’. Apr 8 [Blog Post]. Retrieved May 18, 2013 from,
Eyre, K. (2013a). Blog Task 2, ETL504 ‘Leadership Confusion’. May 19 [Blog Post]. Retrieved May 20, 2013 from,
Eyre, K. (2013b). Blog Task 3, ETL504 ‘How does a leader lead?’. May 19 [Blog Post]. Retrieved May 20, 2013 from,
Kotter, J. (n.d.). Change Management vs. Change Leadership — What’s the Difference? – Forbes. Information for the World’s Business Leaders – Forbes.com. Retrieved January 28, 2013, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnkotter/2011/07/12/change-management-vs-change-leadership-whats-the-difference/
Lewis, L. K. (2011). Communication approaches and strategies. Organizational change creating change through strategic communication (pp. 144-176). Chichester, West Sussex, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell.
Shearouse, S. H. (2011). Reaching agreement: a solution seeking model. Conflict 101 a manager’s guide to resolving problems so everyone can get back to work (pp. 195-214). New York: American Management Association.
Reading about transformational and transactional leadership made me consider some of the leaders I have known over time. Some have been good. Good at leading, getting the job done and allowing me to get my job done. Others have been terrible. The one thing all the leaders have had in common is a higher authority restricts them and their actions. Whether that is a superior above them, a profit and loss balance sheet or simply a time frame, they all have to account to another force and this impacts directly upon their leadership.
So I wonder if any leader truly gets the freedom to ‘lead’ as they wish. Or is leadership actually adapting and dealing with the higher pressures and accountabilities without it impacting upon your leadership style?
In any organisation there can be many levels of leaders, and many people who take on leadership opportunities as they arise. Do all these positions require compromise and adaptability?
Avolio, B., Walumbwa, F., & Weber, T. J. (2009, September 14). Leadership: Current Theories, Research, and Future Directions. DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Retrieved January 28, 2013, from digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1036&context=managementfacpub
Marzano, R. J., Waters, T., & McNulty, B. A. (2005). Some theories and theorists on leadership. School leadership that works: from research to results (pp. 13-27). Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development ;.Retrieved 27 January, 2013 from http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/lib/csuau/docDetail.action?docID=10089219
Evaluating leadership and leadership theory is an interesting task. Not only are there many theories of leadership and many styles but there are also many definitions. Often they seem to be only slightly different to one another. However, coming to grips with leadership theories is only half the battle. A deeper investigation into leadership, reveals we need to have an understanding of the type of organisation the leader leads as well as an understanding of the types of ‘followers’ that are expect to be led. A complex and complicated task!
I ask myself how this knowledge and understanding helps us in the world outside of academia? Does this knowledge and understanding help us as Teacher Librarians; does it help us to be more successful and effective players in the world of education? Drilling these questions down further reveals more questions.
Does a study of leadership enhance our ability to be a leader? Does it improve our skill and success as a leader? Does it in fact increase our chances of becoming a leader? Or to flip the issue around – does a study of leadership and knowledge of different types of leaders, make us better able to ‘follow’? As not all people will become leaders it must be assumed we then take on the role of followers in an organisation’s structure. Is being a good follower as important or perhaps more important than being a good leader. Finally consideration must be given to what we do when we have ‘bad’, ineffective or resistant followers? What do we do when we have leaders who can’t lead?
I hope to be able to answer some of these questions not only through a further study of leadership but also through more practical and hands on ways as a Teacher Librarian.