Leadership Elements of the California State Library


Leadership is a crucial component of the operations of any given organization. It is a process of social influence in which an individual should be able to enlist the support and assistance of others so as to achieve a common goal. The focus of this paper is on the leadership of the California State Library. It examines the relevant leadership and change theories that are applicable to the library (Mobley, 2009).

The Profile of California State Library (CSL) and its Leader

The California State Library, founded in 1850, is the oldest library in the state. It is one of the most prominent public research institutions in California. The clients of the library include public members, representatives of one of the libraries in California, and elected officials of the state.

Some of the main functions of the library include collection, generation, and circulation of relevant information regarding both historical and current online texts and working with the local community to improve literacy level.

Besides, it also provides advice, consultancy services, and technical assistance to other public libraries in California; it is also charged with the responsibility of directing state and federal funds to sustain the various local public libraries within the state (Hildreth, 2012).

The California State librarian is Stacey A. Aldrich. It is important to note that Aldrich also a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Professional Futurists. She is said to have participated in various local and international workshops and presentations.

Description of CSL, Change, and Leaders involved

There have been many organizational changes that have taken place within the California State Library. One of the changes in the establishment of the Partnership for Change program (Dayal, 2011). The establishment of the program followed an intensive study that was done by an organization known as Rand Corporation.

The Partnership for Change was established with the objective of partnering with other local libraries to reach out to community members so as to satisfy their information needs (Dayal, 2011). The adoption of the partnership program meant that the California State Library had to undergo significant changes.

First, it was forced to revise its community library service program to accommodate the cultural diversities of its clients. It also meant that the library had to revise its policies and also actively involve the staff in the whole process of coming up with the new program (Dayal, 2011).

Gary Strong and Kevin Starr were the state librarians when the California State Library underwent changes to accommodate the Partnership for Change program. This implies that, together with other stakeholders, they were greatly involved in the change process.

Starr was the first state librarian to have held a doctoral degree. Before becoming the state librarian, Starr had worked in other public libraries. He served as the state librarian of California until 2004. Gary had a Master’s Degree in Library Science (Cuban, 2007; Richardson, 2005).

Organizational Change Theory that Accounts for the CSL Change

The most appropriate organizational change theory applicable in the case of the library is Kart Lewin’s change model. The model is divided into three phases: unfreeze, transition, and freeze stages. The establishment of the Partnership for Change program in the California State Library constituted a model of change that can be explained by Karl Lewin’s organizational change model (Zimmermann, 2011).

The first phase of Lewin’s change model is unfreezing. According to him, this phase entails reducing the various forces that maintain the status quo; it involves a change of mindset as regards the current state of affairs (Zimmermann, 2011).

In this case, a leader should be able to present to the stakeholders a provocative challenge to enable them to recognize the necessity for change and look for appropriate solutions (Chermack, 2011).

With regard to the California State Library, the change can be said to have begun with the need to overcome the challenges presented by the drastically changing demographics of the state’s population. In this case, the library had to break its status quo and subsequently restructure its operations so as to assist community library personnel to reach out to the communities whose demographics changed fast.

The second phase of the model is known as the transition phase. During this phase, an organization that undergoes a change develops new attitudes, behaviors, and values. Lewin acknowledges that this phase may present some significant challenges to leaders and other stakeholders (Zimmermann, 2011).

In relation to the California State Library, the transition phase involved changing library policies and some of its operations. Specifically, this involved the revision of its community library service program and the change of the library’s existing policies to accommodate the change. This phase might have interfered with the normal operations of the library and hence needed an effective leadership style.

The last one is the freeze phase. At this phase, an organization may choose to revert back to the usual way of doing things after the transition process. This implies that when the transition phase is over, an organization freezes the change process and resumes its normal operations (Zimmermann, 2011).

Therefore, in relation to the California State Library, its freeze stage was when it adjusted its policies and revised its community service program to accommodate the new changes. After making the adjustments, it could go back to its normal operations.

Leadership Theories that Account for the Actions of CSL Leaders

The leadership theory that best accounts for the action of the leaders who were involved during the California State Library’s change process is the participatory leadership theory. According to the participatory theory of leadership, the model leadership in an organization is one that takes into account the contributions of other stakeholders (Northouse, 2009).

This means that such a leader encourages other people within an organization to participate and contribute to an issue or issues of change, especially as regards organizational change. Besides, according to this theory, participatory leadership entails assisting group members or stakeholders to feel more relevant and be determined during decision-making processes (Clark, 2008).

In the case of the California State Library, the change process required the involvement of other stakeholders, especially the followers, in order to be successful. Therefore, the actions of the leaders could partially be explained by the participatory leadership theory.

The other relevant theory is the relationship theory of leadership (Richman, 2011). This type of theory mainly focuses on the links between leaders and their followers within an organization. It is also referred to as the transformational theory.

A relational leader is one who motivates people by assisting them in understanding the significance of the task to be performed (Gill, 2006). The leaders of the California State Library needed to establish a good working relationship with their followers and other relevant stakeholders so as to be successful in effecting the change (Dayal, 2011).

Therefore, before embarking on the change process, the leaders explained to all the stakeholders about the importance of the change. In this case, it is important to note that the success of a change process can only be achieved when all stakeholders give their support.

The leaders successfully secured the necessary support, thereby succeeding in effecting the change. This could also be partly explained by the relationship theory of leadership (Dayal, 2011).

Organizational Change in CSL

In the fiscal year of 1989, the California State Library established the Partnership for Change program for various libraries within the California State (Smallwood, 2010; Lekisch, 2003).

The program was a significant organizational change as the library had to expand the scope of its operations and work together with other local libraries to serve the community (Dayal, 2011). The change process involved seeking the cooperation of other stakeholders within the California State. This, therefore, required an appropriate leadership style.

How a Leader with each Leadership Style Might Approach the Change

Nonetheless, it is important to examine how different leaders with different leadership styles could have handled the change process. The leadership styles are transactional, situational, and transformational leadership approaches.

Transactional leadership has been defined as a type of leadership where a leader identifies what types of rewards his or her followers need to achieve set goals; the leader then assists them in achieving the level of performance that leads to the rewards that are based on the performance (Bertocci, 2009).

Transactional leadership is also referred to as the managerial leadership style. Transactional leaders have the capability of inspiring and motivating followers to achieve results (Bertocci, 2009). With reference to the change that took place in the California State Library, it is important to note that the process required the support of all the stakeholders of the state library, especially the employees.

Thus, a transactional leader would have first sought to know the kind of rewards that would motivate them to participate in and support the program fully. This leadership approach might be different from the way a situational leader could have handled the change process.

However, it is worth noting that this type of leadership is only effective in times of crisis and emergencies (Bertocci, 2009; Waite, 2008). Therefore, it might not have been very effective in the case of the change that took place in the California State Library.

The theory of situational leadership holds that different leadership styles are required in different situations. In this case, the most effective style is determined by the kind of situation at hand (Sapru, 2008).

In this regard, the theory suggests that there are two situational factors that may determine the most appropriate leadership style in a given situation: the personal characteristics of followers and the environmental requirements with which the followers must cope in order to accomplish the task (Sapru, 2008).

Therefore, a situational leader would have evaluated the personal characteristics of the followers and the environment within which they would operate while participating in the change process. These would help the leader to determine the appropriate leadership style to apply during the change process.

The change process could also be handled by a transformational leader. Transformational leadership is based on three personality traits: individual attention, intellectual stimulation, and charisma (Gilbert, 2012). Importantly, this type of leader must understand the strengths and weaknesses of each follower so that he or she can only assign them the task they can efficiently complete (Wagner, 2005).

In the case of the change that took place in the California State Library, a transformational leader would first convince the followers to understand the value and own the change process. The leader would also consider involving the followers in coming up with a clear vision, linking the vision to a specific strategy for the achievement of the vision, translating the vision into action, and achieving the vision through confidence and teamwork.

This implies that a transformational leader must be able to express optimism, charisma, and decisiveness during the change process, the consequence of which would be full support of the followers working in the library (Marshall, 2011; Lang, 2011).

Elements of Leadership Styles that Stand Out

In the transactional leadership style, one of the outstanding elements is that it is hierarchy oriented. Other elements that stand include the fact that it utilizes rewards and punishments to achieve organizational goals, and the leader never works with his or her followers as a team.

In a transformational leadership style, what stands out includes the charisma, self-awareness, and the ability of a leader to inspire his or her followers to work as a team. With respect to the situational leadership style, the outstanding elements include the ability to determine the right style of leadership in every situation and the ability of a leader to coach others to lead.

Elements of Each Leadership Style that March My Personal Style

There are some elements of each leadership style that match my own. In relation to the transactional leadership style, the element of setting rewards and punishments as a form of ensuring the followers achieve the expected performance match my own style.

I find this leadership style very effective when dealing with followers who are not easily motivated, especially those who exhibit laziness at work or show no interest in participation. However, this type of leadership style is not always appropriate as it does not encourage change as long as things are working to the expectations.

Some of the elements of situational leadership skills include self-awareness, social skills, emotional intelligence, and self-regulation, all of which match my personal leadership style. However, a situational leader should also be able to coach others to help them in their personal development as leaders.

In this case, I aspire to gain more skills in coaching others. As regards the transformational leadership style, charisma, intellectual stimulation, and individual attention are some of the elements that match my personal leadership style. I still aspire to be able to take risks, which is an important element of a transformational leader.

Of the three leadership styles, the most appealing one is transformational leadership. This is because this type of leadership style enables a leader to successfully solicit full support from followers by instilling a sense of pride, value, and respect in the followers.

Besides, the leader is also able to pay attention to the needs of each follower so as to align every one of them with appropriate tasks and also assist the followers in thinking rationally during their work performances. These ensure that the followers achieve organizational goals.

California State Library

Description of the California State Library (CSL)

The California State Library was established in January 1850 through legislation that was signed by Peter Burnett, who was the governor at the time. The library serves the interest of taxpaying residents of California State.

The services of the library include collection, generation, and circulation of relevant information regarding both historical and current online texts. Besides, it also provides advice, consultancy services, and technical assistance to other public libraries in California; it is also charged with the responsibility of directing state and federal funds to sustain the various local public libraries within the state (Dayal, 2011).

The Most Effective Leadership Style for CSL

Transformational leadership style would be the most effective in the California State University. This is because the leadership style seems to be transitory in nature. It allows for organizational changes to happen in an easier way than when other styles of leadership are involved instead.

Besides, the transformational leadership style is more enduring, particularly when an organizational change process is well designed, like that of the California State Library, when it came up with the Partnership for the Change program.

Leaders who utilize this leadership style are able to inspire followers and emphasize group values and collective interests, which make it easy for an organization to achieve its goals. Therefore, due to the organizational changes that often take place within the California State Library, the transformational leadership style would be the most effective.

The Least Effective Leadership Style for CSL

The type of leadership style that would be the least effective in the California State Library is the transactional leadership style. This is because this style of leadership style places emphasis on rewards and punishments to get followers to achieve the required targets. In this case, the followers are not always motivated by the need to achieve the goals and objectives of an organization; they only put more effort as long as rewards and punishments exist.

This kind of leadership can also result in a high number of employee turnovers. The environment in which the California State Library operates requires flexible leadership. In this respect, transactional leadership would not be appropriate, since a leader using it is normally rigid in terms of expectations regarding the relationship with followers.


Leadership comes in many forms and is explained by different theories. The success of an organizational change depends on the type of leadership style adopted by a leader. In this case, the most appropriate leadership styles that can ensure success during organizational changes are those that take into account the unique needs of every follower to accomplish specific tasks.

Besides, the most effective leaders are those who are able to motivate their followers and encourage them to own change processes taking place in organizations they work for. Again, it is also important to note that not all leadership styles work in every situation; there are times when each or a combination of leadership styles are most relevant.

For instance, transformational leadership is most appropriate in the daily operation of an organization and during change processes, while situational leadership may be applied where different situations demand specific styles of leadership.


Bertocci, D. (2009). Leadership in Organizations: There is a Difference between Leaders and Managers. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America.

Chermack, T. (2011). Scenario Planning in Organizations: How to Create, Use, and Assess Scenarios. San Francisco, California: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Clark, C. (2008). Creative Nursing Leadership and Management. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Cuban, S. (2007). Serving New Immigrant Communities in the Library. New York, US: Libraries Unlimited.

Dayal, B. (2011). Managing Academic Libraries. New York, US: Gyan Publishing House.

Gilbert, K. (2012). Transformational Leadership. New York, US: Xulon Press.

Gill, R. (2006). Theory and Practice of Leadership. London, UK: SAGE.

Hildreth, S. (2012). Inspiring Libraries as Community Anchors. National Civic Review, 101(4), 40-50.

Lang, M. (2011). Transformational Leadership. Munich, Germany: GRIN Verlag.

Lekisch, B. (2003). Embracing Scenes about Lakes Tahoe & Donner: Painters, Illustrators & Sketch Artists 1855-1915. Layette, Louisiana: Great West Books.

Marshall, E. (2011). Transformational Leadership in Nursing: From Expert Clinician to Influential Leader. New York, US: Springer Publishing Company.

Mobley, W. (2009). Advances in Global Leadership. Bingley, West Yorkshire: Emerald Group Publishing.

Northouse, P. (2009). Leadership: Theory and Practice. London, UK: SAGE.

Richardson, P. (2005). American Prophet: The Life & Work of Carey McWilliams. Farmington, Michigan: University of Michigan Press.

Richman, L. (2011). Improving Your Project Management Skills. New York, US: AMACOM Div. American Mgmt. Assn.

Sapru, R. (2008). Administrative Theories And Management Thought 2Nd Ed. Winchester, Hampshire: PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd.

Smallwood, C. (2010). Librarians As Community Partners: An Outreach Handbook. Bakersfield, California: American Library Association.

Wagner, L. (2005). Leading Up: Transformational Leadership for Fundraisers. Winchester, Hampshire: John Wiley & Sons.

Waite, M. (2008). Fire Service Leadership: Theories and Practices. Subury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Zimmermann, N. (2011). Dynamics of Drivers of Organizational Change. New York, US: Springer.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *