Corinne, Hendrik & Stefan’s Leadership Seminar Experience

Posted: 30-10-2017 Topics: Leadership

“It was different from the usual management training. The Seminar was very practical, high-quality.”

– Hey, it’s coffee break ! Let’s share our feedback on the Leadership Seminar! Two 2-1/2 day working sessions attached to LIBER’s Annual Conference and a one-week internship in a library of your choice in another country, to get some practical experience.

– The first thing is how you enter the Programme. For me, I met one of the organizers a few years ago and he convinced me of the value of such a Seminar.

– For me, I had information from a former intern who followed the previous Seminar.

– From the first course session, we got in contact with people from different European countries, but working in the same context of academic libraries. That was cool.

– Yes, we were able to establish relationships that will last, I hope, for the rest of my professional life.

– I was surprised by how the Seminar happened to be really useful. It drew a lot of awareness and, above all, self-awareness.

– Right, it was different from the usual management trainings which are classical, where we are passive, etc. In this seminar, we were really active participants. The Seminar was very practical, high-quality.

– For me, maybe the most important thing was to meet with other people. Even if it took us a lot of effort to put the group together because we were all very different, everyone had his or her place in this ecclectic group. We had opposing characters, different positions, radically opposite visions of the profession and activities.

– Well, that can be very positive. You have to listen to others’ points of view: it makes you discover another side of the problem!

– Yeah, definitely. You REALLY participate.

– Something else was very interesting. You come to the seminar impregnated with your national culture and then you have to check your culture and compare it to others.

– You feel free to work with others. This is great.

– And clearly it would’ve been completely different in a national environment.

– Yeah, discussing how you manage a library with fellow countrymen is pointless.

– Totally…

– Now I know what is a “national” way of doing things, which I didn’t notice before because it was so familiar to me I just hadn’t realized it was in fact peculiar to my country.

– A real questioning happens. You take a step back.

– The Seminar is a genuine mix of people. This makes you feel confident, in a natural way.

– And you receive advice that would cost a lot of money if you go through a coach!

– I found it very rewarding to be amongst librarians.

– And during the Seminar, speaking English all the time, we can discuss very personal issues, like staff for example, in a free way.

– Personally I enjoyed the “feedforward” process that was used: this method is very efficient. You give and receive, to and from everyone. Feedback from several people is always more interesting than one only. And it is interesting to give a colleague a feedback.

– Sometimes it was a bit hard to hear some feedbacks, but it was never negative nor agressive.

– There is both a technical AND human input. Strong emotions are coming out of it, and it happens in a natural way. At one moment, we all felt so nice together. We felt like we were almost creating a European library of our own !

– But at the same time, you discover gaps and oppositions between national cultures and systems : some countries use their budget on complete opposite priorities, like backoffice vs frontoffice.

– Library Ambassadors are not the same in each and every country. It’s ok to see that in some countries it’s the other way around, haha.

– Yes, that’s kind of healthy to discover that.

– Another nice aspect is the internship/mentorship. You spend a week between the two courses session with a manager in a library from another country.

– What you are pointing out is very important. It’s fundamental to do your internship in a foreign country. It opens up your perspective, you meet people working on the same things than you but in a different way, in a different context, following different rules and coping with different restrictions. That a healthy challenge to be driven out of our national environment. When comparing to your country, you see better how your national network is built, what your national library provides or not in terms of services, etc.

– In my case, I enjoyed being mentored in a really open-minded service ; I got any kind of information I asked for.

– And you learn how your mentor is leading. You see him or her in situation, leading middle-management meetings. You can study the mentor’s style!

– There is a major point that provides high-quality value to the Leadership Seminar. It’s the necessary (and huge) investment made by the mentors. The Seminar organizers and mentors have to keep the level of efficiency and success this high!

– Lastly I’d like to say that I discovered myself as a leader. I always thought of myself as a good listener, but I realized maybe I wasn’t listening that well, and that I had more of a leader potential. So to me, the major seminar value is that it drives you to self-awareness.

– To me, it gives a will to lead some changes, and to make policy-makers also aware of what is done elsewhere … so your institution can evolve better..

– To sum it up, we can point out that the Seminar offers options, invites a transformation, gives you a hint of what the libraries will look like in the future, and makes you aware of the importance of STRATEGY.

Hendrik DEFOORT (LS 2011-2012)
Corinne DE MUNAIN (LS 2013-2014)
Stefan FARRENKOPF (LS 2013-2014)