Developing Library Leadership to Strengthen Community Services

With impending retirement for a significant number of its more than 1,500 employees, the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) sought to create a development plan that would foster creative, forward-looking leaders who can leverage new capabilities and improve community responsiveness. To address these goals, FUSE Executive Fellow Julie Lamba designed a robust program that goes beyond typical executive-focused models, launching an all-staff leadership program called Take the Lead. Now nearly 90 percent of LAPL staff believe the library provides opportunities to grow as a leader, and the library is better positioned to serve the evolving needs of the community. As part of this work, Julie facilitated the selection of six organization-wide leadership values. She advised three rotations of a 20-person planning team that launched a series of programs, including a peer facilitator network of leadership ambassadors; a live, bimonthly interview series regularly attended by more than 250 staff; and a recognition toolkit. Lamba implemented a coaching application, powered by artificial intelligence, for all LAPL supervisors, and more than 120 managers, middle managers, and executives use the app. Also notable, 86 percent of LAPL staff now agree that the library has a shared definition of leadership, compared with 16 percent the previous year, and nearly 90 percent of staff believe the library provides opportunities to grow as a leader, compared to 55 percent the previous year. Julie is continuing to help LAPL with its plans for leadership and talent, establishing sustainable programs that will prepare leaders for the challenges of today and tomorrow.