Evolve or evaporate
Recently, a friend’s daughter was appointed CEO of a mid-sized public library in central Canada. She is a great librarian and I know she will be an even better CEO. I emailed her my congrats and in replying she asked me for some advice. Never short on advice, this is what I told her.
►Trust is fundamental to any CEO’s success. It is built or eroded with every exchange and is predicated upon whether you are focused inward (self-focused) or focused outward (on others). If trust is not there or is broken, nothing else will work.
►If you don’t know where to start, follow the money trail, it’s always a good place to start understanding an issue. Where did the $ come from and where did it go?
►If you are struggling to answer a question, it’s safe to say it’s either a communication or a budget issue. Then figure out which one it is…
►And, if you don’t know the answer, it’s totally appropriate to say so, “but I will get back to you”. The real error is in not following through and sharing the answer with all who heard the question.
►Even though you are new on the job, take every opportunity to speak publically. The more you talk about your new library, the better you will understand it.
►Expense account irregularities will destroy a CEO quicker than anything. Be personally responsible for your expense account and follow all policies and reporting procedures exactly.
►Doing nothing is not an option. The CEO that ignores a contentious situation, or refuses to act, is waiting to be fired.
►Nothing is private . Everything a library CEO does or says is fodder for gossip, and social media. Rightly or wrongly, it is all bound to be public, eventually. My personal litmus test is how would this incident look as a newspaper headline?
►When you are listening, you are learning. So when you are not listening…
►When good work is outweighed by controversy (personal or otherwise) a library CEO becomes a liability and another way to be shown the door.
►The organizations reputation is sacrosanct. The CEO needs to always take the high road and defend the organization. The safest ground is usually right behind the Board chair.
And my favorite piece of advice for freshly minted CEO’s:
► Evolve or evaporate, it really is that simple. If a CEO is not changing and moving the library ahead they are losing ground and sliding into stagnation.
Kaden I wish you the very best, work hard and enjoy the adventure. It’s a great time to be a librarian.
Kitty Pope #37 October 2014