Transplanting a Director of
Libraries: the pitfalls and the
McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to show that library managers are increasingly moving from
one country to another as globalization makes its mark. What constitutes good leadership and good
management and are the skills and knowledge transferable?
Design/methodology/approach – There are cultural differences which must be understood. The
cultural differences relate not solely to country or region but also to institutional variations and
environments. Outlines the pitfalls and pleasures.
Findings – Library managers moving from one country and culture and one organization to another
require considerable energy, knowledge and skill in making the change.
Originality/value – The pitfalls and the pleasures are outlined – and neither should be
Keywords Libraries, Library management, Leadership, Culture
Paper type Research paper
Leadership skills and styles
Many seminars are held which bring together executives from all walks of life to learn
from speakers who have been successful CEOs. These seminars are all predicated on
the transferability of skills from one area to another and from one person to another.
The World Business Forum recently held included leaders Bill Clinton, Jack Welch,
Rudy Giuliani and Colin Powell in their speaker list. For the guidance of aspiring
leaders, the speakers presented their views on a wide range of topics – keeping the
innovative spirit alive, and the bottom-line going up; successful strategies for
navigating transformation and change; delivering sustainable results; moving from
crisis and conﬂict to understanding and partnering; the decision making process;
gaining self-conﬁdence (stated as a key success factor for a true leader); and meeting
expectations and obtaining results.
Considerable work has also been done within the competency framework on the
requirements of senior leaders in organizations. These competencies include the
ability to deal with ambiguity and change; a strong customer focus; good decision
making ability based on a mixture of analysis, wisdom, experience and judgement; the
effective management of innovation and good ideas; the ability to motivate and empower
others; strong negotiation skills involving winning concessions without damaging
relationships; organizational and strategic agility; understanding clearly how
organizations work; anticipation of future consequences and trends; capacity to build
effective teams; and the ability to communicate a compelling and inspired vision. It is
assumed that these competencies are required in all types of organizations – worldwide.
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Received 30 October 2006
Revised 15 November 2006
Accepted 2 January 2007
Vol. 28 No. 4/5, 2007
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited