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Museums and Accidental Leadership

  1. Understand your field. The museum workplace has many subsets, regions, communities under a very big umbrella. Do you know where you want to go?

  2. Do you understand your current organization, what its leadership opportunities are and what they entail. If you take the opportunity offered, where will it lead?

  3. What about your own life? What changes will more money and more responsibility bring? Do you have support outside of work to cope with those changes?

  4. Have you done a self-check in?  Does it seem as though the stress of a leadership position is manageable at this point in your career? Is there time for what brought you to the field in the beginning? Can you retain that connection in a way that is meaningful? If the answer to the last question was no, can you foresee a time when it might be yes? When your children are all in elementary school? When your parents don't need you as much? When your organization's building project is complete? The point is leadership comes to many of us, and like most things, it's better if it's planned rather than having it feel accidental. And it comes in many forms. Being department head is not the same as being a lone leader at a small organization. Your skill set may fit one, but not the other. And more importantly, it may fit one now and the other later. So embrace the old adage, "Never say never." Instead, recognize responsibility when it's handed to you. Know that you wouldn't get it if folks higher up the workplace food chain didn't think you could handle it. Organizations need good leaders at every level from project to program, department to museum wide. And tell us how you choose... Joan Baldwin


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