Leadership and libraries?


Table of Contents

From Good to great and the social sectors: why business thinking is not the answer.

There is an irony in all this. Social sector organizations increasingly look to business for leadership models and talent, yet I suspect we will find more true leadership in the social sectors than the business sector. How can I say that? Because, as George MacGregor Burns taught in his classic 1978 text, Leadership, the practice of leadership is not the same as the exercise of power.[8] If I put a loaded gun to your head, I can get you to do things you might not otherwise do, but I’ve not practiced leadership; I’ve exercised power. True leadership only exists if people follow when they have the freedom not to. [pp 12-13]

[8] James MacGregor Burns, Leadership, (New York: Harper & Row, 1978), pp 9-28.

Jim Collins’s short piece on the social sector – to which libraries belong – is worth a read.

A great organization is one that delivers superior performance and makes a distinctive impact over a long period of time. For a business, financial returns are a perfectly legitimate measure of performance. For a social sector organization, however, performance must be assessed relative to mission, not financial returns. In the social sectors, the critical question is not “How much money did we make per dollar of invested capital?” but “How effectively do we deliver on our mission and make a dintinctive impact, relative to our resources?” [p 5]


comments so far.

Sign in to comment or sign up if you are not already a member.