Last week I tweeted about an HBS story unpacking leadership lessons from the recent NFL coach firing spree. In short, the NFL season concludes each year with a host of personnel changes, known by fans as “Black Monday”. The article focused on takeaways from managers on personal development and skill acquisition as strategies to protect your position within an organization. This year’s Black Monday held an irony that may have fallen on the authors of the article, given that 5 of the 8 coaches fired were Black. This prompted a conversation within the Black community about the role race and equity play in the recruitment, development, and retention of its staffers.
This week, a colleague shared a podcast from sports commentator Bomani Jones on the NFL firings that touched on some key themes library directors deal with when trying to develop diverse talent pipelines. Check out the podcast first, then come back and see my highlights for libraries.
This morning, I logged onto my computer like every other Monday morning and started my daily calisthenics of Twitter and LinkedIn feed browsing before my first call of the day. I expected my feed to be two parts NFL conference championship commentary, two parts MLK Day commentary. But given that the quarterbacks leading all 4 teams yesterday were white men, I didn’t expect much commentary drawing the relationship between these American cultural artifacts.
To my surprise I saw a Tweet that read “King, Brady & American Relentlessness”. I immediately stopped my feed scrolling, expanded the Tweet, plugged in my noise cancellers and hit play.
“Learning to manage volunteers – to whom, absent a paycheck, ideas and ideals were the only currency – taught me to view all employees essentially as volunteers. Today, even with compensation as a motivator, I know that anyone who works for my company chooses to do so because of what we stand for. I believe that anyone who is qualified for a job in our company is also qualified for many other jobs at the same pay scale. It’s up to us to provide solid reasons for our employees to want to work for us, over and beyond their compensation.” – Danny Meyer, Setting the Table
I’ve been consulting research libraries on software decisions on behalf of commercial vendors since 2010. Last summer, I decided to go out on my own. During that 9 year period, I learned that as consultants, when asked for our advice or opinion on a topic, there are certain biases and predispositions that guide our decisions on what to recommend, to which type of organization, and at what point during the engagement. When working for a commercial vendor, the calculus on this is straightforward: do what is in the best interest of the employer, which at times presents conflicts of judgment, albeit less often than people think. But as an independent consultant, there’s an opportunity to develop our own orientation separate and apart of any organization’s mission.
A new day has come for libraries. A day when libraries can tell their stories with clarity and conviction. A day when libraries can build community based on what makes them unique, alongside people who share their vision for the future they work to create. A day when individuals from all walks and phases of life can get excited about librarianship as a profession, and maintain that excitement after seeing their compensation package. A day when highly specialized skills and talents are tangibly recognized for their worth in the information landscape.