The following guest post is from Alissa Williams, Assistant Director at the Pekin Public Library. Alissa is also chair of the ILA Reporter Advisory Committee. If you’d like to contribute a blog post on a leadership topic, please send it to l-barnes at illinois dot edu.
One of the best sessions I attended at ILA was “Bouncing Beyond Your Customer’s Expectations.” My biggest take-away was the reminder that I set the tone for my staff, so I need to hold myself to a higher standard and do the things I expect my staff to do (for example: show up on time to the desk, where my nametag, smile, provide excellent customer service).
It reminded me of a pivotal discussion we had at Synergy about the power of hello and that we should say hello to everyone we work with, whether we like them or not. Being a leader is all about setting the tone for your organization. And while sometimes we decry top down edicts, modeling behavior we want to see is really key to being a leader. People believe what they see more than what you say.
The speaker shared a story where a new client wanted her to come “fix” his staff because they were never on time. She went to meet with him at 1 pm and had to wait until 1:30 for him to arrive for their meeting. The speaker told the client, “Sir, the staff is not the problem, you’re the problem.” A few weeks later, the client contacted the speaker and said she was correct. Once he’d started being on time, so had his staff.
Since conference ended I’m being much more intentional about checking myself each day to see if I’m setting the appropriate tone for my staff members. I’ve had a few off days, and by admitting my wrongs, I feel I’ve created a more open relationship between my staff and I. It helps them to see that I’m not perfect, and that I’m actively working to be better.