FOPL Library People Capacity Working Group

PHASE II Project Report
December 2019

Read the Full Report [18 page PDF] here: FOPL HR Survey Research Summary and Recommendations


Throughout 2019, the FOPL People Capacity Working Group conducted research with members of the FOPL network to assess the state of leadership development in Ontario public libraries and identify opportunities to support succession at the CEO level. This need was identified based on anticipated transition of CEOs out of the workforce within the next 5-10 years (based on demographic data).

CEOs overestimated interest in the CEO position from Emerging Leaders. They indicated that internal emerging leaders, for the most part, required between one and five years development towards the CEO role. Relatively few CEOs have a succession strategy in place, and many were unclear whether their board would be willing to invest in the development of a CEO candidate if they were not already fully qualified for the role. When asked to identify development needs, CEOs felt Emerging Leaders particularly needed to enhance their competencies for ‘HR Management’, ‘Budgeting and Finance’, ‘Strategic Planning’, and especially ‘Emotional Intelligence’ and ‘Political Acumen’. Emerging leaders identified fewer gaps in their development, but agreed that ‘Political Acumen’ and ‘Strategic Planning’ were areas of focus. Both groups surveyed identified ‘Emotional Intelligence’ as the most important competency for CEOs and ‘Promotion of a Diverse Workforce’ as the least important. The CEOs indicated that the responsibilities that absorbed most of their time included predominantly internal, functional tasks including finance, HR and operations management, rather than outward-facing, strategic responsibilities such as board or municipal management or community development. The majority of survey responses came from libraries service populations between 5,000 -15,000 people.

When asked about benefits as motivational factors, Emerging Leaders indicated that their highest priority was a ‘Higher Salary’, demonstrating a gap in CEO’s perceptions; CEOs thought the opportunity to work for a ‘Forward Thinking System’ would be the top motivation for Emerging Leaders. There was also a slight gap in preference for organizational culture, with CEOs preferring a ‘Fair and Equitable’ work culture, compared to the Emerging Leaders who identified a ‘Flexible and Accommodating’ workplace as their preference. While intangible benefits (e.g. flexible schedules, professional development) were valuable to both groups, they were more highly valued by Emerging Leaders than CEOs as a motivating factor.

Based on an analysis of this data, the People Capacity Working Group recommends several outcomes for the next years of the group’s mandate. These include:

  • The development of a talent development toolkit to provide resources to address leadership development, performance management, staff engagement and other topics identified by CEOs
  • A sector leadership summit to develop a strategy for mentorship, networking and ongoing support for developing leadership capacity
  • Collaboration with other provincial library agencies and associations to identified and deliver learning and development opportunities identified by library CEOs and explore the potential for a skill exchange program
  • Build consensus across sector agencies on a set of universal leadership competencies to guide future professional develop
  • Develop a roadmap and communication strategy to identify and promote existing leadership development programs, as well as professional development funding opportunities

Read the Full Report here: FOPL HR Survey Research Summary and Recommendations


  2. PURPOSE. 4
  4. FINDINGS. 5

4.1         DEMOGRAPHICS. 5

Emerging Leaders. 5

CEOs. 5

4.2         COMPETENCIES. 5

Top Competencies for the CEO Role. 5

Top Competencies of CEOs and ELs: Self-Reporting. 6

CEOs: Where do you spend your time & most important priorities?. 6

Areas of Development for Emerging Leaders. 7

4.3         BENEFITS & WORK CULTURE. 7

What are ELs Looking for in their Career? Top Attraction Factors. 8

Current Benefits. 8

Top Priorities: Benefits. 8

Organizational Culture. 9

Ideal Work Culture: Comparative. 10

Ideal Work Culture: Perceptions of EL Priorities. 10

4.4         GOALS. 11

  1. ANALYSIS. 11

Implications for Succession Planning. 11

CEO Competencies & Responsibilities for the Role. 12

Cross-Sector Mobility for ELs. 13

Implications for Professional Development. 13

Diversity & Inclusion. 14

Implications for the MLIS. 14

Factors of Workplace Culture. 15

Opportunities for Further Investigation. 15