This is not a blog about politics

John P, Dave, and Mark B.,

For the first time since I turned “Reading for Leading” into a blog I have chosen to “moderate” it – in this case to remove  your coments from my blogspace.  I’m sure you expect that I don’t agree with your political views, but that’s not why I am turning you out.  This is a place for people to discuss how THEY are attempting to lead.  It’s a place for discussion and even for self reflection.  If you read through the archives you will find lots of people disagree with me, question me, complement my views (or compliment me) and together, I hope, we are learning to lead more effectively.  Your comments just don’t fit here.

Your messages barely even attempt (John P tries with one feeble opening line) to be relevant to the topic of “managing up.”   Managing up is vastly different than “complaining up,” which is what 99% of political blogtalk is.  And this is not a site for political blogtalk.  Kindly find another place to “complain up,” or even fashion compelling rational arguments about my wife’s policies or leadership.

I will continue to engage RELEVANT discussions about her leadership; I am both open and intrigued by that.  But this site is devoted to people interested in “leading with their best self,” not fundamentally “complaining that Jennifer isn’t leading with her self.”

Thanks for understanding. 

  • Confidence in one self, Established practices, Habits, As I supervise these are some of the best people I have working for me who have the above traits in plenty along with the Integrity and Belief in themselves.
    Am I knowledgeable enough to even know enough of what is going on with my superiors work loads to lead up???
    These days it tends to be quick, fast, decisive action otherwise no action, buried in the piles of work yet to be completed, with no staff, no time, no money or no resources to accomplish, so in face of all that needs to be done and expected to get done, and with growing concern about economy effects on govt business & personal life, I find it difficult to take time to lead, let alone lead up. Nice concept, and now thinking on it, this does happen, though I think more unintentional. Thanks for inspiring words and provoking thoughts.

  • It is very risky and difficult to try to manage up. Especially when the manager ignores your suggestions or dismisses you as relevant. So some of us try to go on doing our best and presenting a positive imagine even when it is discouraging.


  • I’m a 3rd-year M.L.S. librarian (part-time, children’s services) in the Metro Detroit area. In a roundabout way, there’s potentially a lot of room for me and people in small libraries like mine to “Manage up”, but it isnt’ so much about “managing” our administrations as it is about our immediate connections to the communities we serve.

    As a children’s librarian in a fairly old-fashioned conservative community, I have done what I can to create programs that will attract the attention of parents and children alike, and have put together one inter-generational program which involves writings on the part of older people to youth under 21.

    Unfortunately, our library is even more financially strapped than many others in the region (although at least, thank goodness we’re not at risk of closing, there’s a real premium on staff time available for anything but basic circulation and other duties which involve quickly waiting on people in line at the counter. I don’t want to see our library become irrelevant, and, on a more selfish note, I didn’t get a Master’s Degree in Library Science just to be a glorified check-out clerk. Rather than complain, I try to develop programs on my own time, such as a “Baby and Me” workshop, emphasizing positive interactions and intellectual stimulation between parents and young children. For older children, I offer a “book chat” once a week (since we’re very small and serve a community of people in which parents work irregular schedules, multiple part-time jobs, etc.) I make this and story-time informal “one-on-one” walk-in affairs tailored to the interests of each child.

    Of course there are a lot of obstacles including: 1.) It’s only by good fortune that I don’t, myself, have to work a second part-time job like many in the community I serve, who struggle to make ends meet. At one point I did, and there was very little time available to me to devote to trying to achieve results within my sphere of influence at the library. 2. ) As stated above, we’ve had to reduce staff, due to budgetary issues, and time away from the circ. desk is at a premium. 3.) Again, my availability doesn’t necessarily coincide with that of the community, as it might in some of the more affluent library communities (eg. many libraries in Washtenaw or Oakland counties) 4.) Parents and others in my community who work with kids tend to want the kids to learn the basic “3Rs”. This goal is good, but it’s not enough to prepare today’s kids to meet the challenges of the future. 5.)Last but not least, there’s the ongoing need to compete for kids’ attention with video games and other expensive media and entertainment (Some libraries incorporate video games into their programs and services for youth and teens, but my library is conservative both in terms of budget and in terms of adapting to changing cultural trends, and personally, I think although the kids and teens might be attracted to our library if more techie amusements were offered it’s a fine line between supplementing and negating core library values of inquiry, dialogue, reading and looking up information for enjoyment and self-improvement.

    So, in appealing to my “constituencies”, I’ve got to walk a tightrope of assuring parents, educators, etc. that my programming will have educational benefits to kids while, at the same time, marketing the programming to kids as something fun. It’s a common challenge for anyone who is a youth-advocate, but it is easier in a community which already rallies around its library, and in which children come from backgrounds which value reading. Several families in my community do have these values, and their children are the ones which attend my programs (as their schedules permit), but there is still much less turnout at my programs than I would like, so I still have to work hard at community outreach – again, often on my own time.

    I don’t fault my administration for the fact that I’m working with so little time and other resources – rather, in my case, as a public servant, “managing up” means influencing the community I serve to take an active interest in the library. In turn, I hope that they also will realize the value of managing up by getting more involved in community organizations like the library, perhaps lobbying city hall for an elected, rather than appointed library board, and forming a Friends of the Library group so that we can raise some much-needed funds for our facilities as well as our collections and programs. On the other hand, I fully know how lucky am – and worry and apologize in advance over how elitist I may seem in my comments – I want to do the right thing by the people I serve, but I know my ideas about reading, inquiry and contemplation are not popular ones in today’s culture, and especially not with people struggling to get through each day who probably genuinely see value in pop-culture (video games, reality TV, cheesy romance novels, etc.) as a brief escape. I like “escape” sometimes too – who doesn’t, but in addition, I have TIME to think and to reflect, to plan – and to rest and recoup right now, but too many people are not so lucky – they’re struggling to make ends meet. The time-committment for “escape” is much less than the time-committment needed for reflecting, planning, contemplating, etc.

    I think my best strategy is patience with the community and the economy. On the other hand, I’m not so comfortably ensconced that I don’t also have to worry, like everyone else, about whether I’m doing the right things to keep up my skills just in case I should ever HAVE to make myself marketable for a more competitive, “rat-race” type full-time job.

    What I really wish I could do is to influence people, both in my personal and professional life, that success – or even just survival, does not depend on running an endless treadmill to cram X amount of work into a day or rack up X amount of achievements, but rather to work “smarter”, to look at problems in the world around us, and to explore alternatives – a balanced way of living. If I could do this, it would be managing “up” in the more traditional sense, eg. influencing huge entities such as Wall Street, the media, etc. that there’s more to life than material acquisitions, to helping bring about a world where close-knit, rooted urban or first-tier suburban communities can be a safe, affordable and economically viable alternative to “McMansions” in the far suburbs. We’re living in a rapidly-changing world, and many thinkers on the subject (eg. Thomas Friedman, Richard Florida, etc.) seem to feel that people have to choose between having roots (creating supportive families and communities) and having wings (taking charge of your own employability so as to avoid ending up like many metro Detroiters who’ve spent their lives working for the Big 3; creating new ideas, challenging old prejudices, etc.) I am a firm believer that both “roots” and “wings” are necessary in society, and, as a librarian, I want to be a part of using old and new services and technologies – but for the purpose of helping people gain a sense of both “roots” and “wings”. This, I think, is a traditional library value, but one which can be packaged in non-traditional ways.

    I feel concerned that public libarianship is losing this value as some libraries overemphasize either traditional points of view and forms of expression, or pop-culture – two opposite, but equally destructive extremes. I also feel concerned that people in today’s Michigan economy feel they don’t have time for the “luxury” of contemplation, and that they don’t see the importance of encouraging children to learn to contemplate, brainstorm for solutions, etc. I hope that as schools undergo more and more pressure to “teach to the test” I can supplement the (admittedly somewhat necessary) mechanical skilling and drilling of school by encouraging kids to want to engage in critical thinking.

    So I suppose, given that I’m at an age (early 40s), where I know I’m unlikely to see most of my ideals come true, I’m hoping I can influence the next generation. Ideals often take many generations to come true, and I can be honest with kids about this (the most immediate challenge, of course is to do this in a non-boring, non-preachy way, and also one which doesn’t give the appearance of threatening parental influence on kids.) Still, perhaps “each one – reach one” (ie. each generation at least learning from the mistakes of previous ones) is perhaps the most realistic way to effect change, and young people, thank goodness, can still be good partners in “managing up”.

    • Wow! All I can say is Keep on leading with your best bad old 40ish self!!!! What a testimonial for the greatness of libraries and librarians!

      • and thank you for your encouragement. I think it would be interesting to do a post sometime in which public servants could be invited to give opinions on best ways to engage public input. In today’s budget-crunching times, there is an excellent book called “Creating public value : strategic management in government” by Mark Harrison Moore (everybody: see “MelCat” at to find the books’s availability at a library near you, although unfortunately it appears the northernmost library that owns this is Public Libraries of Saginaw, with many more copies available in the Metro Detroit area than elsewhere in the state.) This is a book which, although more than a decade old, is useful for discussing the concept of how people who work in, or are advocates for keeping a public service, must demonstrate the value of that public service.

        It is a challenge for public libraries (and public schools) to compete with things like public safety services (Homeland Security, police and fire service, infrastructure-repair, etc.) On the other hand, as a popular bumper sticker says “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance”. Libraries, along with schools and institutions of higher learing, are at the forefront of encouraging critical thinking and problem-solving, and these skills can translate into creating a stronger infrastructure, both socially (roots) and economically (wings) for the state and communities.

        Of course as a “first-level” librarian and as a non-resident of the community which I serve, I have to be subtle and patient in “pushing” this view, but am proud of whatever inroads I’ve made with up-and-coming generations.

        I hope all people in public service will reflect on the implications of their work for the short-term and long-term future of Michigan and of their immediate communities. Best wishes to all.


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