The Importance of Leadership: Developing Your Ability to Lead

The Importance of Leadership: Developing Your Ability to Lead

What does it mean to be a “leader” in today’s rapidly evolving libraries? How can you develop your leadership abilities? In this webinar recording, our speakers discuss developing leadership abilities, benefits of earning an MMLIS degree from USC Marshall, MMLIS online program curriculum, and admissions requirements.

Marion Philadelphia, Ed.D., Associate Professor of Clinical Business Communications; USC Marshall School of Business

Enrollment Advisors
Sylvia Riddick
Tracey Wilson


Katie Macaluso: Hello everyone. Thank you for joining us for today’s webinar, The Importance of Leadership: Developing Your Ability to Lead. I’m Katie Macaluso with the Master of Management and Library and Information Science program at The University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business. We’re glad to have so many of you with us today.

Here’s a few housekeeping items to take a look at before we get started. You are in broadcast-only mode, which means you can hear us, but we cannot hear you. During the webinar, please feel free to type your questions into the question and answer box as you think of them. We have reserved time at the close of this presentation to answer your questions.

At this time, I’m delighted to introduce our hosts for today, Tracey Wilson and Sylvia Riddick. Tracey and Sylvia are of course our wonderful enrollment advisors for that MMLIS program. Many of you have already been in contact with them. You’ll hear more about the program from Tracey and Sylvia in the second half of today’s presentation.

At this time, I’m delighted to introduce Dr. Marion Philadelphia, who is an associate professor of clinical business communication in the Marshall School of Business. Dr. Philadelphia, thank you so much for joining us today. I’ll turn it over to you now.

Marion Philadelphia: Thank you very much for the introduction, Katie, and hello also to Tracey and Sylvia. Well good morning listeners. My name is Marion Philadelphia, and as Katie already mentioned, I’m an associate professor of clinical business communication at the Marshall School of Business, and I’m also the department chair of the business communication department. I’m delighted to be joining the session today, since I consider myself a veteran professor in this program and also one that has worked with the program from its very inception to this very day. I really, really like this program a lot. It’s a fantastic opportunity for you.

I wanted to talk a little bit about my background before I talk a little bit more about leadership and the importance of it and the [title 00:02:21] in Marshall and about the course that I’m teaching. First of all, my last name sounds really American. I’m originally from Germany, so you will detect a slight or a strong accent while I’m talking. Just to take the heat off, my ancestors are from Pennsylvania and that’s how I got the name and kept it.

Anyway, professional and academic background, I studied mass communication, journalism, and English and British literature in Germany in Hamburg, where I got a Masters degree and wrote an extensive thesis about the works of Joan Didion that some of you might be familiar with. Then I came over to the United States here to Los Angeles, where I worked for a number of years in entertainment public relations and theme park development. I also worked on big projects like Universal City Walk and other space park centers, etc. I also then ventured on into concept writing and negotiation between those clients of that theme park development company, a particularly large scale project between Germany and the United States.

I also was always writing, and I also always loved literature and research, so I ventured on after those years, which included a lot of travel that I didn’t want to continue after I had started a family. I thought, “What else can I do,” so I started to teach, and I taught writing for a long time. Then I taught business writing and business communication strategy. More based on my professional experience, I grew into the field of business communication and started looking closer at research in this field, dynamic research in organizational communication and such things.

Because I was not prepared, I had no training as an instructor or teacher, and I really, really liked it, and I liked to bring the professional aspects into the classroom, I then pursued my doctorate in educational leadership and psychology here at USC. I was an adult graduate student like many of you will be in the near future. I focused on this because I was really interested in building programs that work, and looking at how does pedagogy work, how do people get motivated in their study path, and so on. That’s a little bit about me. I’m the chair of the business communication department here at Marshall, which is very unique because we are the largest business communication unit in the United States, with about 30 faculty members who have all various professional backgrounds as well as academic backgrounds. We are all informing each other of current research practices, etc. in business communication, so we are very current at all times. That’s a little bit about me.

As I said, I co-designed the program and especially designed one of the core courses that is in your first semester in theory. It’s called Management Communication for Leaders. This brings me to the next slide. Why is it important to be a leader? Why is it important that the librarianship is connected to the business school? In today’s world, many corporations and organizations actually maintain their own databases. They maintain their own library systems, so to speak. It’s important that they have knowledgeable librarians, or if you want to, call it digital data management specialists that work in these settings has increased tremendously since the development of the Internet, basically. Operations are relying much on research in their fields and auxiliary fields that are connected to their business in one way or another. There’s a lot of constant research going on that feeds from databases and feeds into databases. There’s a strong connection between business and librarianship, so it felt like a natural to have a joint degree between the USC libraries and the Marshall School of Business.

Now the importance of leadership is as you are going through graduate studies, and maybe some of you already have a Masters degree in a different field and have a little bit of that experience, but the idea here is that you grow in your profession as you go through a Masters program. You learn that you can take on leadership roles pretty much immediately if you are not already in one, but you might not realize that you’re in one. For example, you might be leading a team at your work place or you might be contributing to a departmental project in your area where you will take a leading role. To adopt the mindset of a leader, which is a situational leader in this case, is the first step to guide and facilitate the people around you so that you have a successful project outcome.

More, in organizations and corporations, in the field of libraries per say, public libraries, academic libraries, very important that people have the ability to think critically and creatively come up with new ideas and concepts on a constant basis because technology and access to information is developing so rapidly, that you really need to be on top of it. You need to be a contributor at all times, so you are active and not passive. There’s a huge difference.

Sometimes it’s difficult to make that first tiny step to become active rather than doing your job, but kind of like contribute your ideas or start, if the culture in your organization does not permit you to contribute ideas. You would be one of the first people who is initiating a step to improve the culture and community at your work place so that people will be motivated to contribute ideas and develop new concepts and so on. In that sense, you’re on your way, little by little, step by step, to take on a leadership mindset. You will try it out in small steps and then bigger steps, but your supervisors or superiors will realize very quickly, “Oh, this person is very engaged. Thinks along. Has great new ideas. Finds resources. Asks questions.” To move our organization along to make it successful long-term, to sustain success, to help our constituencies, patrons, or corporate members to get the most out of our data collection. It’s a critical component to learn.

It’s a learning process to be a leader. Most people are not born to be natural leaders. It’s an evolving process. By embarking on a graduate program, you are taking the first steps. This program in particular has several courses that will tie in the leadership component with the librarianship component. It’s a very critical milestone on your career path.

Next, I’m going to be talking a little bit about one of the core courses in this program. That’s the one that I’m teaching. It’s called Management Communication for Leaders. What you will learn in this course, first of all, is to realize that communication plays a very, very large and important role in any day-to-day operation, no matter where you are. No matter your private life or if it’s your professional life. Most of the time, we take communication for granted. We don’t think about it, we just do. That’s great, but that’s not enough.

In this core course that you’ll be taking in the first semester, you will first of all, through some instruments, learn who you are as a communicator. How do you communicate? How do you reflect on others? How do you interact with others? When do you say, “What,” and how do you say it? There’s a whole component in this course that makes you aware of how you speak, what you say, and how you respond to your audience. By audience, I don’t mean the people in the rock concert standing in front of the stage, but just the people around you in your day-to-day situation.

Then, you will learn how to leverage your communication style. There is a person you might often have a conflict with, but because of your new knowledge in communication and how you communication, you will learn how to better adapt to this person so that you have a successful communication or interaction with this person. You learn how to leverage your communication style. In simple terms, if you look at how you would talk to your boss versus how you would talk to your partner versus how you would talk to maybe your child or your pet or your mother, you already realize just by thinking about it, how you would address each of those individuals or pets differently. But you never think about it, you just do it.

Once you start thinking about it and you look at the people around you and think about how can I leverage my style so that I am more successful with this particular person? Because of this course, you will be the one who’s in the know versus the people around you who might not have that in depth knowledge about themselves and the understanding of who they are as communicators. That component alone elevates you above others and nurtures your leadership ambitions.

Another component in this core course is to understand the dynamics of organizational communication. There are a lot of stakeholders in any given organization, external and internal stakeholders. There are patterns within an organization that sometimes are functional, and sometimes they are dysfunctional. There usually is a lot of conflict in organizations. There are communication gaps. People are maybe not motivated because of those gaps, or they are not performing to the best of their abilities. In other situations, there might be a really great flow of information throughout an organization, and the operation just runs smoothly. But understanding the dynamics and what these dynamics can cause and the consequences of good as well as bad communication is a component of this course as well. It exceeds communication in libraries alone and looks beyond those particular environments because a library is not anything that operates in isolation. It is always connected to others. If it is a corporate library or corporate data center, definitely you are in touch with every component that feeds into that particular business.

The end goal is to understand the importance of communication, to apply communication strategy maybe in your own workplace for seeking improvement of the status quo, aiming to become an effective communicator, and to become a situational leader, and then later on in your career path, a leader.

Long-term benefits are continued career advancement. This is just the first step. Obviously career advancement is always tied to an increase in salary, at least in most cases. What you’re looking at in the end is you are seeking… Everyone is doing this. A happy and fulfilled career. You don’t just want to do a job. You want a career. There is a big difference. I think understanding this difference, that you are on a career path. By embarking on this Masters program track, you will speak to be a happy and fulfilled person in your career, in your life, and taking on leadership positions in the future. You don’t have to worry about it and think, “Oh, it has to happen really quickly.” No, it’s a process. You just have to trust the process, and you don’t have to worry about it. It will just kind of naturally happen through the studies that you’ll be doing in the program, through the people you will be meeting, and so on and so forth. Remember, it’s not a job. It’s a career that you want to embark on and you do so with leadership skills that you will develop throughout the program.

Now, I’m going to turn it over to Tracey, who will talk more about the program in detail. Thank you very much for listening.

Tracey Wilson: Hello everyone. This, again, is Tracey Wilson. Thank you so much, Dr. Philadelphia. I’m really excited to give you an overview of USC as well as the program, so we’ll jump right in.

In terms of USC, it’s ranked as one of the top 25 universities in the US by the US News and World report. Very prestigious university. Always on the cutting edge of programs and creating new opportunities. Speaking of opportunities, USC has an alumni association of 300,000 members worldwide. It’s a great opportunity to network with people in your field and to develop relationships. You can do that right after you graduate. Now you will have an opportunity to collaborate with your peers and network even before your program ends, but I just wanted to give you an idea of what you could take advantage of in the future. I can tell you USC is nationally recognized and represents the best of the academic world. The same [high 00:20:02] quality instructors who teach the campus program also teach the online program. You’re going to receive an excellent education, but it’ll be a little bit more at your convenience. I’ll show it to you how that would take place.

Just to give you a little background, the program was developed back in 2013. It was launched back in 2013, and it came from USC seeking feedback from leaders in the field. They told USC that they were looking for individuals who not only were library and information specialists, but who could also manage business. That’s how the two programs came together to form this new program that is unique to the entire country. You’re on the cusp and the cutting edge of something really unique here.

I can tell you it’s very convenient. I mean it is a Masters degree program, so you will work, but it’s very doable. It’s 100% online, where you meet every other week online for about an hour with your instructor and fellow classmates for a live teaching session. You’ll also be posting to a discussion board which will allow you to collaborate with your peers. You can complete the program in between 18 and 20 months. I can tell you it’s very unique in the fact that when you’re working with your instructor and your professors, as well as your academic advisor, if you’re interested in tailoring the course towards a professional objective, say academia, public librarianship, or digital librarianship, although there are no specific specializations, you can certainly have your assignments geared towards that area. Again, you will work with your instructor and your academic advisor to accomplish those goals.

The whole point of the degree program is to give you the essentials of librarianship and information science, but also it helps become a well-rounded leader. So when opportunities present themselves, you are ready for them.

I can tell you with USC, the campus is state-of-the-art, the online campus. For those of you who maybe have never taken online classes before, you will go through orientation so you know exactly what to expect, but it’s very simple. You’re going to utilize your camera and your headphones, so that way you’ll be able to see and hear your instructor. You’ll have that connection. Also, the classes are recorded, so if you’re running a little late or if you miss something, you can go back and revisit that information. I can tell you as someone who completed her Masters degree online, I found that invaluable, especially when preparing for papers.

I mentioned earlier that you will have the opportunity to network with your peers. That’s accomplish not only through your live sessions, but also posting to the discussion board. You’ll find you’ll spend a lot of time there because it’s a topic that you’re very interested in. Again, you have the opportunity to network with your peers, and if everyone stays in the program from the beginning to the end, you’ll be with the same group of students, so you’ll have a strong sense of community and connection. Again that’s a great opportunity to network with your fellow Trojans.

Now what I’ll do is turn over the rest of the presentation or the admissions requirements to my colleague, Sylvia.

Sylvia Riddick: Hello all, this is Sylvia Riddick. We’re going to review the admission requirements for the MMLIS program. We are accepting applications for the spring term. To meet the application deadline coming up, your file needs to be complete and received by December 2nd. Classes start January 4th, 2017.

The online application is where you would begin. You’re able to submit all of your documents through that online application. We expect to see and we need to see a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. We like to see a 3.0 GPA. We do have applicants who can put together very competitive applications with GPAs under that. Please reach out to an enrollment advisor with questions. We need official transcripts from all schools and universities attended. There is no GRE requirement at this time. However, we do look for related work experience. If you have questions about your work background, please again reach out to an enrollment advisor. Of course, email questions or call. We are here to help. We will also expect to see a CV or resume. You may want to prepare that. Again, that gives us a snapshot of your professional background and academic experience.

Katie Macaluso: All right. Thanks, Sylvia. So with that, it’s time for our Q and A session. Just as a reminder, if you have any questions, please feel free to type those into the Q and A box below your screen here. Then, just hit send, and we’ll do our best to answer as many questions as we can today. If we don’t get to your question today, one of us will follow up with you directly following the presentation.

I’m going to take a look for our first question here. It looks like the first question I’m going to send to Dr. Philadelphia. The question is, “How do you interact with students in the online program?” A related follow-up is: Do you feel you’re able to form relationships as you might with students in an in-person course?

Marion Philadelphia: Yes, thank you very much, Katie, for that question, and whoever asked it. Yes, absolutely. You are able to form relationships with your students. The classes are usually between let’s say 12 and 20 students. We have frequent online conferences one-on-one as well. That I’m in constant touch and get to know my students really closely. I’m also very communicative via email or phone. Whatever works best for the individual. There’s a constant stream of information and communication, and this is really, really important to me because it does help establish really solid relationships with the students.

From the students’ side, also, students need to learn to be responsive, to email, communication, to reach out and say, “Hey, professor. I would like to have this conference with you. I have a question about the assignment.” Whatever it may be. There is a constant backbone to the courses themselves that is happening through either one-on-one conferences or email mostly. Many of the students that I’ve had over the years have come back. We’re still in touch. I’m writing recommendation letters for them for a new job that they may want, etc. We keep in touch, also.

Katie Macaluso: That’s really great to hear. Thanks so much. It looks like our next question is going to be… The question is: I really want to get into the library field, but I am not currently working in a library. Is that experience required for admission into the program? Sylvia, would you be able to answer this one?

Sylvia Riddick: Certainly. A) The program does offer an internship option to help you obtain hands-on work experience prior to graduation. B) USC prides itself on its diverse student body. As a result, we have applicants from all walks of life and work experience that is transferable into a library setting. You’d be surprised the skills and abilities that’ll be beneficial not just in the program, but also in the work environment later. Again, if you have questions about that, please reach out to your enrollment advisor so we can discuss your situation with you specifically.

Katie Macaluso: Great. Terrific. All right, our next question is: I’m weighing carefully the investments a program would take financially. Do you think an online degree will carry as much weight as an in-person degree? Dr. Philadelphia, do you think you could speak to that one?

Marion Philadelphia: Yeah, absolutely. I think in today’s world, an online degree from an institution like one of our top-tier universities, USC, is worth just as much as a degree taken in a residential program format. I think especially in the field of librarianship, you have an advantage having worked online because much of the work that you will be doing will be interacting through media. Also of course person to person, but much of it is going to be database research, teleconferencing, and such. The degree here is a full degree. It’s a pretty rigorous program on the good side, and it carries as much weight as a regular program would. USC has a number of online degrees. We also have an online MBA now. Different schools have different online degrees, so in the graduate world, it definitely has reached a level of acceptance and acknowledgement that is comparable to that of a residential degree, if not higher.

Tracey Wilson: I just want to piggyback off of what Dr. Philadelphia shared with you. You should know that the program does not indicate on your transcripts nor on your diploma that you attended the online campus. You would receive a USC ID. You are the same, or would be the same, as any other student. Just wanted to share that with you.

Katie Macaluso: Thanks so much for that additional clarification. All right, we have another question. This one I think is also for Dr. Philadelphia. The question is: Do you think an MMLIS degree, because it’s a Master of Management and Library and Information Science, is that more versatile for career advancement?

Marion Philadelphia: Yeah. Most definitely. I think that the management aspect of it and the focus on leadership is quite unique. I think that definitely will give you a competitive advantage, no matter if you’re going into the public library field or academic library field or corporate library field. I think that definitely the management aspect and leadership aspect is a strong, positive promoter for you as you advance in your career.

Katie Macaluso: That’s great. Thank you so much. All right, that concludes our Q and A session for today. I want to thank Dr. Philadelphia for her wonderful insights on becoming a leader, especially in the library setting, and to Tracey and Sylvia for providing such a great overview of the program. On screen you’ll find admissions contact information for Sylvia and Tracey. We are currently accepting applications for the spring term as they mentioned, which begins in January, so if you’re interested in starting the application process or maybe are just in the early stages of considering an MMLIS degree, please reach out to your enrollment advisor by phone or email to discuss in more detail. An on demand recording of this session will be available tomorrow and can be accessed using the same links that were sent to you earlier. All right, so that concludes today’s webinar. Thank you again for joining us. Have a great rest of your day.

Marion Philadelphia: Thank you very much. Nice meeting all of you.