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Director’s Desk – Winter/Spring 2023

I recently returned from a retreat on conscious leadership and I was looking to find a succinct way to define the term and share it here. The most relatable definition I found is from a 2020 Forbes article quoting Jenna Faye Madden, who states, “Conscious leaders operate from their heart, lead with transparency, and are committed to their own growth to expand their self-awareness and ability to serve.” 

Some might reject the concept of operating from the heart as potentially being too emotional or, dare I say it, feminine. But as with many things, balance is really the key. As humans we are constantly navigating dualities. Whether we’re talking about the masculine and feminine, yin and yang, ebb and flow, black and white – the list of contrasting and sometimes conflicting forces is probably endless. And the “either/or” thinking inherent in discussions of duality – us or them – may partially explain our inability to find workable, sustainable solutions to some of our biggest challenges. Our narrow approach to an issue might be the issue. What if we flipped our thinking from “either/or” to “both/and”? 

How do we do this? Practice. Speaking for myself, and from a leadership perspective, I acknowledge my feelings (my heart), though I’ll admit I haven’t always felt comfortable doing so. Why? Because most of the examples of leadership I saw in the field when I was coming up (both libraries and consortium) were men, and they were dominated by and almost singularly demonstrated “logical” thinking. To be clear, logic has its place. And I believe we have to acknowledge that we’re also human beings and emotion has a part to play. Both/and.  

As I make decisions that affect our business, our organization, our team, our membership – I aim to balance the business factors, the operational constraints, driving my decisions with the  knowledge that everything we do affects people. Our members are organizations, and they are made up of people. OhioNet is a business, and we’re made up of people. And those people are experiencing both work and personal life together, simultaneously.  

As I grow in my leadership journey, I am coming to realize that actions speak louder than words. So recently, when I needed to take some time away to manage a family challenge, I flexed my schedule and allowed my team to support me. With that action, I was modeling more than words can ever say. I am grateful to work with a team and a Board who support my ability to be both a CEO and a parent.  

If you’re looking to learn more about and expand your capacity for consciousness leadership, here are some quick reads that might inspire you to get started thinking (and acting) in new ways: 

First, Kimberly Zang gives us six examples of conscious leadership with ways to embody the concepts.  

If scholarly research is more your jam, start with Valita Jones and Ovidiu Brazdua’s discussion of  Conscious Leadership, a Reciprocal Connected Practice

And last, though certainly not least, these articles dovetail nicely into Ione T. Damasco’s recent american libraries’ article which shares some strategies for transforming work culture by combating workplace inequities. (Ione is Professor and Associate Dean for Inclusive Excellence, Engagement, and Operations at University of Dayton (Ohio) University Libraries, an OhioNet member.) 

Until next time, I hope you begin to utilize a both/and framework. Let me know what you discover, about yourself and your organizations, as you do. 

Be well, 


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