In 2016 SCONUL established a Leadership Task and Finish Group to develop a range of initiatives to enhance the collective leadership capacity across SCONUL and to support individuals and groups of staff in member institutions in their leadership development.
At an early stage of this work we identified the value of an approach to support reflections on leadership to assist academic library directors to gain personal reach and strategic influence within their organisations and to guide the planning of their leadership development.
SCONUL commissioned consultants Professor David Baker and Alison Allden OBE to conduct an investigation into the perspectives of university executive-level leadership, a ‘view from above’, through a series of interviews together with a related literature review. This focused on two main research questions:
• What strategies can library leaders employ to ‘lead in uncertain times’, i.e. which approaches to leadership are needed in the context of continuous and rapid organisational, legislative, and technological change?
• What are the views of university senior leaders about academic library leadership and culture?
This report comprises a digest of findings from the series of interviews with higher education sector leaders carried out by the consultants. The results, while perhaps not completely unexpected, are occasionally surprising and make fascinating reading. The comments offer a striking insight into the role and value of the academic library and its leadership that challenges its own perceptions of itself.