May 12, 2018

Leading the Change Home | Insights and Outcomes

When librarian Elke Bruton from the State Library of Oregon (pictured below) and four of her colleagues attended Lead the Change! Oregon at Portland’s Central Library in April 2013, they were told they should give a report when they got back. But, she tells LJ, “We said, we don’t want to do that. Out of context, it doesn’t mean anything.” Instead, the team met to digest their own takeaways and turn them into training for their ­coworkers.

The attendees examined their personal action planners from the event to see what they’d each been most struck by and “miraculously, by little tiny committee, we were able to agree on four main things,” Bruton explains: personal leadership, social styles, shift in perspective, and transitioning from a problem to an outcome mind-set.

ljx140302webInsiteOutBFrom those four things, they developed a two-hour workshop, which they presented to the state library’s fewer than 40 employees in two groups last summer. Bruton says the training was well received.

The core four

The training group covered the quartet of items in digestible chunks.

  1. They defined leadership, described the difference between managers and leaders, and emphasized “getting into your own head” to create a leadership state of mind in which it is okay to succeed—and also to fail. They shared some examples and encouraged the staff to share their own.
  2. They created a leadership orientation worksheet, based on something one staff member brought back from a different training session, that asked who you are, what are your strengths, and who do you work with. From there they defined four social styles—driver, expressive, amiable, and analytical—and led a discussion among staff to share what results they thought they would get and what they actually did.
  3. They encouraged employees to stop defining themselves solely by their title and main task and, instead, to focus on the impact their work has on users and the organization. “People are always asking us what we do, and we answer with, ‘I’m the librarian, I catalog the books,’ ” Bruton says. “We encouraged people not to limit themselves by their title and main task but to talk about their impact on people.” When Bruton led this portion of the training, she asked a volunteer, “What would happen if you weren’t here?” The group took a brief break to develop a short, impactful, nontrite “elevator speech” on what their jobs are from this perspective and to share the results with one another.
  4. “The last thing that we talked about was going from the problem orientation to the outcome orientation,” Bruton says. “That, we took right out of Lead the Change. It really spoke to us and sort of drove everything else.” Bruton and her teammates planned the training around the question, “What would we need people to do to get to that, how would that change things?”

Results in the real world

The library was unable to conduct a formal assessment of the workshop’s efficacy because the state library’s staff time was taken up with a major re­organization. Still, Bruton says, the training, especially the problem-to-outcome section, has moved the needle, at least in her own division, which serves the blind and print-disabled. “We felt like that had an impact, especially in our current culture of uncertainty and rumor,” she says. “In my division, that is something we are living and doing now, to stop bemoaning the problem and say, ‘What can I do today to fix this?’ ”

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This article was published in Library Journal's March 15, 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz ( is Executive Editor of Library Journal.