Fostering and Developing Leadership Amongst Library Staff at the University of Zambia Library

Fostering and Developing Leadership Amongst Library Staff at the University of Zambia Library

Christine Wamunyima Kanyengo
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-335-5.ch001
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The chapter critically describes and discusses leadership development experiences at the University of Zambia library by looking at the leadership development opportunities that are availed to library staff. It discusses the challenges of leadership development at the institution. A case study approach to make inferences on leadership development was adopted. The chapter contends that leadership development is an important aspect of organizational development in libraries, because it enables an organization to regenerate and carry on with its mission in an orderly and transformative manner. It offers insights of leadership development and organizational transformation in resource-constrained environments.
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Leadership development is an important component of organizational transformation. In libraries its importance should be seen in the context of continued information provision to library users, by being efficient and effective. Most importantly, leadership development should be seen from an institutional self transformation nature. In order for the organization to self transform in an orderly and efficient manner, it should have in place staff that are ready and able; and have the relevant skills set to take up leadership positions within its organizational structures at all times. Otherwise, whenever there is a transition, there would be a breakdown in the transformation systems so much so that it affects the efficient provision of library and information services that are provided to its clientele. Therefore the goal of any leadership development program in any library is not only to ensure that there is a smooth running of library operations; but that there is continuity in the service provided. This can only be possible and will be dependent on a reservoir of library staff that are being nurtured and provided with opportunities not only to develop leadership skills but also in the process acquire the relevant academic qualifications that will impact the organization.

Opportunities for leadership development within libraries happen in all areas of the library and at all levels; from the person sweeping the floor and in charge of cleanliness in the library, Collection Development, Public Services, Information Systems, Cataloguing and Classification, Public Services, Reserve and Rare Collections and to the person that has the overall responsibility of managing both the human and information resources of the institution. In libraries, it the responsibility of every member of staff to work collectively and motivate each other in order to provide continued and improved quality library and information services. In this context, leadership development is the “realm of teaching leadership qualities to someone, regardless of whether or not the learner will actually use the skills learned in a leadership position; ….involves teaching communication skills, sharing, and the ability to motivate individuals through positive social influences” (Anderson, 2009).

Several people define leadership differently and there is a wealth of literature that gives different theoretical perspectives on leadership. Leadership is viewed as the “ability to influence others by persuasion, example, and tapping inner moral values” (Keeja, 1998). According to Lorenzen (2008) citing Ledeen (1999), historically, the Machiavellian approach to leadership espoused in the “Prince’ is primarily a stick and carrot one, aimed at maintaining the status quo. Lorenzen (2008) citing Ledeen (1999) further says the basic tenets of Machiavelli’s leadership are “change and readiness, luck, politics, leadership, and the nature of freedom”. In addition he adds to these attributes of leadership, morality as an important component of successive leadership. Bass’s (1989 and 1990) work on leadership identifies several theories of leadership; leadership due to traits - here he believed that certain people are born with certain traits that predispose them to become leaders; crisis driven leadership – people emerge as leaders because of qualities other people recognise in them when there is a crisis and lastly transformational leadership. Transformational leadership has four characteristics: “charisma or idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration” (McCrimmon, 2008). Transformational leadership is also viewed primarily as change agent requiring the development of communication and inter-personal skills, with emphasis on motivation and transcending orgnisational constraints (Bolden, 2005). In this regard Kelloway et al (2003) says that there is now no argument that this type of leadership can “affect critical organizational attitudes and outcomes”. In libraries, the interest is how this type of leadership can affect and effect library and information services.

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