2. Aim For Excellence, Always

In a previous post I listed 24 library leadership qualities that will inspire me to be a loyal follower.

2.  I will follow someone who aims to be the best and attempts to make it happen.

Good enough is never enough. There will always be room for improvement – new technology to exploit, processes to improve, and benchmarks to aspire to.

It is easy to whinge about what’s broken in our libraries and why things can’t be done. This mindset rejoices in failure. Yet we often overlook instances where we set the bar so low that mediocre library services are celebrated as success stories.

I detest mediocrity. Mediocrity is worse than failure. Mediocrity is unremarkable, boring and invisible. Mediocre products and services do what they’re supposed to do, but are so bland that they’re forgettable. Mediocrity comes from the middle. From the desire to blend in, not rock the boat. It’s where consensus lives.

Aiming for excellence is difficult and not guaranteed. And it’s also inspiring, exciting and challenging. It’s the edge. Few people relish being on the edge, but this is where you’ll find true leadership excellence – the superstars and the rogues.

The Library Journal’s Movers and Shakers lists the people shaping the future of libraries. People who are doing extraordinary work to serve their users and to move libraries of all types and library services forward. In 2010, Joann Ransom was the first Kiwi to be honoured and a library leader worthy of following. Will you set new standards of excellence?

In New Zealand, the 3M Excellence and Innovation Award recognises libraries who live on the edge – who believe they are the best and attempt to make it happen. In 2010 Upper Hutt City Library won the coveted title. Imagine if, at the beginning of every library project you set out to make it a worthy nomination for the 3M Award. Will you raise the bar and aim for excellence, always?

If not now, when?

A version of this article appeared in Library Life: Te Rau Ora, 18 May 2011.