Can We Dare to Lead?

A guest post by Julianna Robbins, Program Manager at California Center for the Book & CALL Advisory member

As library staff members, we often envision ourselves as helpers. But who does that benefit? Being helpers first is a story we tell ourselves as individuals and as a profession, but it’s just a piece of the puzzle. We have needs, too. As business professor and leadership consultant Dr. Brené Brown says: “One of the greatest barriers to connection is the cultural importance we place on ‘going it alone.’ Somehow we’ve come to equate success with not needing anyone. Many of us are willing to extend a helping hand, but we’re very reluctant to reach out for help when we need it ourselves. It’s as if we’ve divided the world into ‘those who offer help’ and ‘those who need help.’ The truth is that we are both.” It’s a quote that rings true for me, and probably for a lot of other library staff members.

Taking a moment to reflect, I realize that after more than a year of pandemic stress, I’m intensely feeling the effects of what we’ve been through. I’m also seeing the effects on my community, with increased homelessness and incidents of crime. In the library world, there’s a curious juxtaposition of excitement about reopening, mixed with anxiety about what the next few months might bring. As a parent, I’ve found the stress of caregiving during a pandemic continues to weigh heavy. There are so many unknowns. As rules about distancing and masking quickly change and as rental assistance and pandemic unemployment supports begin to sunset, we are facing new challenges. 

Before we lose the opportunity to make lasting changes based on what we’ve learned, we have a crucial chance to turn back to ourselves. Can we take this moment to reevaluate who we are–as library institutions, staff, leaders, and public servants–so we can show up in courageous ways for community members, families, friends, and ourselves? Brown says “hope is a function of struggle.” Can we take the lessons from the pandemic and ongoing societal reckoning to become more insightful and vulnerable?

In the coming months, California Libraries Learn is sharing two chances to talk about courage based on Brown’s research. The training will discuss the value of learning to be vulnerable while taking advantage of research-based strategies to improve library leadership. The journey begins with a Dare to Lead: Introduction on July 27 from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM. This one hour webinar, led by Katie Fredricksen, certified Dare to Lead™ trainer, will provide an overview of the most significant findings from Brown’s recent research – that courage is a collection of four skill sets that are teachable, measurable, and observable.

Maybe you are intrigued by what you hear during Dare to Lead: Introduction. Perhaps you already have committed to further exploring how to bring courage to your library culture and personal leadership. If you’d like to learn more, we encourage you to apply to participate in an immersive, virtual experience featuring the Dare to Lead methodology. The Dare to Lead: Immersive series takes place over five sessions from August 6 to September 17, 2021. The dates and times for the immersive experience are outlined below.

  • Dare to Lead Kickoff – August 6, 2021, 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM
  • Dare to Lead Immersive Workshop 1 – August 20, 2021, 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
  • Dare to Lead Immersive Workshop 2 – August 27, 2021, 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
  • Dare to Lead Immersive Workshop 3 – September 10, 2021, 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
  • Dare to Lead Immersive Workshop 4 – September 17, 2021, 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM