On Wednesday morning, five of the members of ZSR Library’s leadership group (Lynn, Wanda, Lauren C., Mary Beth and Susan) left Winston-Salem and headed to Beaufort, NC for the first ever ZSR Library Leadership Retreat. Although we all work closely together and meet regularly through Administrative Council and other in-library venues, we had never had an opportunity for extended, uninterrupted time to reflect, explore and plan. Those of you who have participated in retreats yourselves know that it is a different experience when you have the chance to remove the inevitable interruptions that happen when meeting in the library or even on campus. It also provides an environment that is conducive to developing new appreciations of your fellow retreat participants because you have the time for deeper conversations that bring new understandings of each other!
Wednesday evening, after a day of travel and settling in (and a lovely harbor tour of Beaufort), we started the retreat by comparing our strengths that we had identified prior to the retreat. No, we didn’t just ask around to pinpoint our strengths! Lynn provided each of us with the book StrengthsFinders 2.0 by Tom Rath. Rath proposes that it is a waste of energy to try to try to correct someone’s weaknesses, that there is more potential for growth by focusing on developing people’s strengths. He identified 34 of the most common talents and developed an instrument to help people identify and describe their strongest 5 talents from this list (along with action ideas and tips for how to work with people that have each type of talent). Each of us came to the session with our list of 5 talents. We compared where we had overlap, uniqueness and which talents our small leadership group is missing. I’ll share my 5 with you, and leave it to the others to share theirs :-)
My top five are:
- Achiever (these people have a great deal of stamina and work hard, like to be busy and productive)
- Activator (make things happen by turning thoughts into action – the word impatient popped up here!)
- Maximizer (focus on people’s strengths to stimulate personal and group excellence)
- Arranger (these people organize but also have a flexibility that complements this ability. They like to figure out how all the pieces and resources can be arranged for maximum productivity).
- Focus (can take a direction, follow through, and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act).
Thursday was a full day of sessions that ranged from “Year in Review” to ‘Planning for our Future.” Friday morning was a final session to wrap up and identify action items. You can see from the picture above that we settled in for our discussions (in spite of the perfect weather that was like a siren calling to us) and took turns as “scribe” (MB is the scribe in this picture) so that all the discussion and brainstorming was captured. We are compiling all of the information, ideas, blue skying, and prioritization into a single document that will facilitate our ability to move forward, share with the library at large and maximize our efforts made over the three days.
Retreats aren’t all about work, the team-building aspect of a retreat is almost as important. Lynn built in activities that gave us the time to interact in a more social way by touring Beaufort, dining at wonderful Beaufort restaurants and even getting in a few “summer Olympic” workouts with kayaks and bicycles! I did my best to capture the essence of the experience with my camera, and the results are available on my Flickr site in my “ZSR Leadership Retreat Beaufort 2011” set.