Rick Fought, EdD, MLIS, assistant vice chancellor of the Health Sciences Library at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, became interested in studying the topic of leadership more than six years ago. Dr. Fought had the opportunity to share his research at the Medical Library Association’s 2020 virtual conference, where he presented his paper titled, “Leaders’ Ways of Knowing about Leadership.”
During his research, Dr. Fought interviewed health sciences library directors from around the country. One striking similarity among library directors was that they didn’t start their careers thinking they would be in a leadership position.
“Through the research, I realized that you can be a leader no matter what your personality is, if you approach it the right way,” he said.
Dr. Fought found that those he interviewed had common landmarks on their paths to leadership. These include a breadth of experience, mentors, recognition and development of leadership potential, and focused preparation.
While mentors are important throughout the leadership journey, other landmarks often occurred in chronological order. The breadth of experience was gained long before the individual realized they could be a leader. Once they had that epiphany, they engaged in the focused preparation. This preparation often consisted of learning and developing their leadership style, as well as filling in any relevant gaps in the wide range of experience had already gained.
Dr. Fought noted that “understanding the big picture” of how an organization works is one of the most crucial aspects of being a good leader. He also found that enthusiasm, stamina, and the ability to move projects forward were important facets of a good leader.
“In the absence of any good leadership, it’s going to be much more difficult to see an organization be able to maximize effectiveness and meet the challenges or the transition that they are going through,” Dr. Fought said.
Dr. Fought feels that while his research focused on the experiences of health sciences library directors, it is very much in line with literature he has reviewed throughout his years of studying the topic. He said leadership development would look much the same across disciplines.
Other research presented by UTHSC Health Sciences Library faculty at the Medical Library Association annual conference included:
- “Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences in Undergraduate Medical Education: A Scoping Review” and “Technology-Assisted Systematic Reviewing: Collaboration and Experiences of Health Sciences Librarians from Multi-Institutions” by Lin Wu, MLIS, assistant director for Research & Learning Services
- “The Future of Health Literacy in Focus across the State” by Leah Cordova, MLIS, Research & Learning Services librarian
- “Envisioning Future Partnerships: Assessing the Health Information Needs of Public Libraries” by Leah Cordova and Hilary Jasmin, MSIS, Research & Learning Services librarian
- “Critical Appraisal of Primary Literature Citations in a Drug Monograph Project for Third-Year Pharmacy Students” by Hilary Jasmin
- “Exploring Feelings of Professional Fraudulence: Patterns, Trends, and Lived Experiences of Health Sciences Librarians with Impostor Phenomenon” by Hilary Jasmin
“We are excited to have our library faculty present their research at professional conferences,” said Lori Gonzales, PhD, vice chancellor of Academic, Faculty and Student Affairs at UTHSC. “The Medical Library Association Annual Conference provides a valuable opportunity for these faculty to engage and network with library colleagues to showcase the good work being done at the Health Sciences Library, and ultimately improve and enhance the library user experience for everyone.”