Establishing a Leadership Library for Your Organization


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Leadership development is life-long process that requires each individual to work continually on improving the various facets of his/her leadership skills. People tend to learn most effectively by using a variety of learning methods, which include 1) formal training; 2) mentoring, 3) shadowing of senior executives; 4) executive coaching; 5) experiential learning; and 6) self-study.


Several of these methods are either resource-intensive or have limited availability. For example, formal leadership training usually consists of a few days of training every few years--and training budgets are often the first to be cut when funding is tight. Mentors and senior executives typically have limited time to offer to assist new leaders, while executive coaches are not widely available at many agencies.


The two learning methods with the lowest cost are challenging and varied experiences and self-study.


Government agencies that make it a priority to develop the leadership skills of their employees can promote this objective by providing their employess a good selection of books and articles on leadership. Many government workers are sufficiently committed to their professional development to read about leadership and management in their spare time, but the high cost of the books can be a deterrent to the many who are still on the fence about whether they want to make the commitment required to become excellent leaders. Thus, organizations that are willing to make a modest investment in books and articles on leadership can greatly leverage their employee's desire for professional development.


Marketing the leadership library to employees is crucial to its success, as employees will not use this resource if they do not know about it. In order to promote use of the leadership library, it would be helpful to do the following:


  1. Put the leadership books and articles together in a prominent place that makes it easy for employees to browse the collection.

  2. Ensure mentors are familiar with the books in the library so they can recommend appropriate readings to their mentees.

  3. Establish simple procedures for borrowing the materials.

  4. Post a complete list of the materials in the collection so employees will know to check back if something they want to read happens to be checked out.

  5. Publicize the fact that leadership books and articles are available for employees to borrow.  Include a list of recent acquisitions and/or most popular titles to generate interest.


For suggestions on which books to obtain, check the book recommendations on this web site and ask your agency's leadership training instructors for their bibliography.


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