Super Hero Leadership - ARSL 2013
10/06/2013 11:57:00 PM | Author: Christa

Lisa Lewis, Huachuca City (AZ) Public Library

Association for Rural & Small Libraries 2013 Annual Conference 

September 27, 2013

Characteristics of superheroes


Lighthearted – OK as a leader to joke around a bit. But don’t make slanderous remarks about anybody, especially mayor, town council, etc. Put a stop to gossiping. Know when to be serious and when is the right time to joke.

Clever – rearrange stacks, furniture. Seek out grants. Partner with businesses – sponsor a program at your library.

Kindness – recognize the value of your staff. Make sure they understand that you appreciate what they’re doing. Remember what it was like to be in their shoes. Use kind words. Give them second chances. Give praise and recognition often for the jobs that they’re doing.

Overwhelmed – take a break. Don’t become defensive when you become overwhelmed. Don’t let it control your emotions. You can’t control the situation, but you can control how you react to the situation. One thing at a time.


Strong sense of purpose – believe in what you are doing with all your heart. Be all in. Figure out what your purpose is at your library. Remember it and remind yourself.

Fairness – no favoritism. Treat all staff equally. Be consistent. Listen to your staff. Be present during a conversation – listen and understand what you are being told. Be willing to adjust. Can’t put all staff in same category. Set expectations – be very clear. All staff should have up-to-date and correct job descriptions.

Confident – in yourself. In your abilities. Sound sure of yourself. Come across as if you are in control of every situation. Be clear about what you know and what you don’t know. Fine line between being confident and begin arrogant.

Sometimes feels insecure – it’s OK. Showing it will sabotage any influence you have over your staff. Don’t dwell on things you haven’t done. Think about all the positive things you have done in your library. Dress like you’re confident – feel good about yourself. Looking confident will give you motivation and make you more confident.


Dependable – be on time, try not to be late. Try not to leave early often. Try not to call in sick often. Set the example. Do what you say you are going to do. Under promise and over deliver.

Devotion to mission – make sure your staff knows you are devoted to your library and why. They will become devoted too. Know what your community needs, and be devoted to supplying it to them. Walk the talk – everyone who knows you, knows you are devoted to the library. Be mission dedicated. How to get staff devoted - Give staff a special project that requires commitment to see it thru. Be available to your staff to listen and be open to their ideas.

Endurance – pace yourself. Determination without a plan isn’t going to work. Running a library isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.

Fails on occasion – you will fail. But fail up – how? Did I do everything possible to make this work? No? start again. Think of failure as an experiment. Try again. Ask yourself if you would do the project again, would you? Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again. But this time, more intelligently. Use what you learned.

Captain America

Conviction – believing in something with everything you’ve got. Your conviction should be strong on your library’s core values and purpose, your staff. Create a positive library experience for everyone. To add value to your library – make it the center to your community. Have conviction about the ultimate purpose of your library – to serve your community. Have conviction where it matters.

Protector – what are we protecting at the library? The gift of literacy. Summer reading, book clubs, partnering with schools. Gift of imagination. Knowledge – free acces to information isn’t a privilege, it’s a necessity. Information – we’ve become a solution for our communities when they need help with getting a job, etc.

Courage – Try courage - try something. Trust courage – confidence in your staff, trust that they are going to do what you asked them to do. Tell courage – raise difficult issue, provide thoughtful feedback. Share unpopular opinions. Courageous leaders try more, trust more, tell more.

Finds a way to succeed despite limitations – recognize your limitations and decide it they are real or not.

Captain Sunshine

Makes people smile – approach job every day with a smile on your face and make it your mission to have all of your patrons leave with a smile in their face too.

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