10 Things to Think About on Your Way to Work

Thinking

First, we are looking forward to meeting many of you at AAM in Washington at the end of May. After two years of blogging about the museum workforce all of a sudden we’re no longer alone. A lot of people–including AAM itself–are talking about museum working conditions. In fact, we made Nicole Ivy’s blog which conveniently lists all the sessions connected to museums’ backstage life. If you didn’t see it, you can find it here. Your Guide to Labor 3.0 at the Annual Meeting. Our session, which is titled What We Talk About When We (Don’t) Talk About Women in Museums with Marieke Van Damme and Jessica Ferey, will have some great music, a chance to share some thoughts and make change together. We hope to see you there.

While we are in Washington, Anne and I will also be doing some teaching for AAM’s Getty program. This week I worked on a case study for that presentation. My topic is leadership and self-awareness, something I’ve written and spoken about frequently since we published Leadership Matters, so self-awareness has been on my mind. For too many leaders it’s akin to exercise, something we know is good for us, but hard to focus on. Or worse, it is seen as part of the massive self-help literature found in airport bookstores. It’s probably both those things, but self awareness, for museum leaders is critically important.

And the reason it’s important is that it’s not only about you, it’s about your staff as well. Think of it as an internal check-in. One for you, one for your staff. A self-aware leader is constantly calibrating her behavior to align with the people she’s leading.

On the way to work in the morning do you strategize the day? Do you think about which meetings are up first and your goals for each one? Do you also think about the people you will meet with? Today will you sit down with the museum department you consider least likely to succeed? The ones lacking self-confidence where mediocre work is a good outcome? Have you experimented with strategies to gain trust, improve communication, increase teamwork?

Don’t eye-roll here. Or at least if you’re doing it, be self-aware enough to recognize it. Museums are places of great beauty and big ideas. They are fabulous places to work. People envy those of us lucky enough to care for and interpret the world’s patrimony. But we do that by working with people. And museums are better places when we work well together. So here are 10 things to think about on your way to work:

  1. Check your judgement at the door. Assume everyone is trying to do their best.
  2. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Be ready to delegate when you need to. Do it with grace.
  3. Write down your plans and priorities. Check back often. Did you succeed or do you need to revise.
  4. Develop a group of friends, mentors and colleagues. Anne calls them your “posse.” They are straight shooters. They adore you, but they’ll tell you the truth.
  5. Check in with them. Ask them how they think you come across.
  6. Listen. Really listen. Don’t just wait for a chance to speak.
  7. Know how the chemistry changes when you walk in the room. Plan accordingly.
  8. Make a 360 assessment part of your annual review.
  9. Get out of the office. Your work is important, but you are not curing cancer. It’s spring. Go outside.
  10. Make this your mantra: Act, reflect, refine.

Last, if you haven’t already, take one of the many personality tests. Myers Briggs or the Disc Assessment are popular. Harvard Business Review also has an entrepreneurial aptitude test: Entrepreneurial Aptitude Test. If you think being an entrepreneur is for business–well that’s another post.

And share how you know yourself.

Joan Baldwin

 

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