Developing leadership skills, as San Diego County Library  Training and Web Services Manager Polly Cipparrone  is discovering, is a continual process with plenty of surprises and opportunities.
Having been a longtime participant in Infopeople’s  Master Trainer group, Cipparrone leapt at the opportunity to take workshops through Infopeople’s Eureka! Leadership Program  and then attend the “Eureka! Leadership Program Institute”  in San Diego earlier this year. She has, since finishing the onsite work at the institute, been working with colleagues to shape a project which will continue her development as a leader while making a major contribution to the San Diego County Library: helping to implement RFID  (radio-frequency identification) service in several library facilities as a collection management tool and to streamline the entire process through which library members and guests  borrow library materials.
“My project is to be an internal and external customer care agent partnering with our branches and our support services to help make the transition using RFID to affect the changes within the branches,” she said during a conversation earlier this week. “I’m trying to make it clear that I’m not there with a point of view, but to help bridge a gap. It’s really more of a communication thing.”
The project will begin with three branches participating, she noted: “Ultimately, the success of those three branches is going to filter out to the rest of the organization, so it’s really important that people feel that they were heard…so we can expand that experience out to the others.”
Among Cipparrone’s surprises was the realization that leaders play an important liaison role within their organizations: “I think that prior to Eureka!, my feeling was that somehow…you had to follow a certain path and you needed to improve things.” As a result of attending the Eureka! institute and remaining in contact with other program participants, she has become “more open to other points of view and seeking other opportunities…It’s not as if it is some amazing conversion process, but the fact that you’re with similarly engaged people at various points in their career and that we can reflect on who we are and where we might go--the institute provided those tools and those connections.”
Trainer-teacher-learners and other current and prospective leaders who are observing the process through Cipparrone’s eyes can also benefit from her experiences in that they provide a contemporary example of how effective continual learning models  can be. The combination of onsite workshop attendance , follow-up meetings, the intensive institute , and a project which pulls everything together is a great example of how Infopeople and others are seeking ways to reinforce what learners are acquiring in contemporary training sessions. And it doesn’t stop there: participants are now in contact via the Eureka! Leadership News blog  and webinars like the one that Cipparrone and Eureka! institute alumna Genesis Hansen presented this week on the topic of “Free Online Tools for Project Management” —yet another way that Cipparrone and her colleagues are gaining leadership experience while creating content which is useful to others.
Next: Infopeople and the San Francisco Public Library Leadership Academy