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Catalyzing Communities Through Stronger Leadership

October 7, 2016

Christina Drummond
Educopia Institute’s Director of Strategic Initiatives

IMLS Senior Advisor Dr. Marvin D. Carr summarized earlier this month, “today’s museums, libraries, and archives are more than community anchor institutions that generate economic and societal community benefits; they build and lead change in their neighborhoods.”

Yet, how do we, the people within these organizations, make this change happen? Let me explain how. Since 2014, I have had the privilege of facilitating a 32-partner strong, cross-sector IMLS-supported project team that is actively articulating the skills needed when archives, library, and museum professionals lead change. This Nexus LAB project team, in partnership with the Center for Creative Leadership and by leveraging its 360 by Design® leadership competency library, has produced for community review the draft Layers of Leadership Across Libraries, Archives, and Museums. The Layers of Leadership outlines leadership competencies across six career stages, connecting them with related learning objectives, and articulates the broader outcomes that can result in our organizations, professions, and communities when we have more effective leaders.

So, what does leadership development have to do with catalyzing communities? Leadership skills are required to be an effective change agent, especially when engaging beyond our own walls. To move from simply acknowledging to actually embracing and engaging diverse networks of individuals and organizations, leaders must confidently represent their professional and organizational interests while working alongside allied, neutral, and sometimes ideologically opposed stakeholders. This concept of networked leadership is something project teams may actively practice, as Nexus LAB has done by developing a shared cross-sector vision, and a range of pilot-ready curricular and evaluation resources to advance leadership development in archives, museums, and libraries.

Organizations and trainers engaged in staff development are welcome to join the Nexus LAB’s ongoing efforts to collaboratively develop, support and inspire leaders at all levels who are actively improving our institutions and communities. As broader networks of individuals and programs adapt, contribute, and leverage shared resources such as the Layers of Leadership, they also contribute to large-scale change efforts, such as the National Agenda for Continuing Education and Professional Development across Libraries, Archives, and Museums.

Networks of leaders accomplish incredible things when they work together to capitalize on the shared strength that surfaces when combining the rich perspectives of their communities, members, and professions. Efforts such as the Coalition to Advance Learning Across Archives, Libraries, and Museums illustrate how the power of networked leadership can catalyze action that makes progress on complex issues.

The Layers of Leadership provides a foundation for thinking about how to develop leaders at all career levels, to foster change, innovation, and partnerships.

So, as a leader in the museum, library, or archives sector, which leadership skills can you develop to advance change in the communities you serve?


Christina Drummond is the Educopia Institute’s Director of Strategic Initiatives and the Project Manager on the Nexus LAB project, which was made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [award number: re-00-14-0095-14].