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Developing a Leadership Culture and Pipeline

Pierce County Library System, Washington
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Innovation Summary

PCLS believes investing in leadership development will achieve cultural and performance success. Seven Leadership Competencies drive change and progress toward achieving the library’s vision and goals. A cohort-based, nine-month Leadership Academy culminated in a capstone assignment to develop and deliver a Staff In-Service day introducing the new Strategic Framework.

Problem Statement

Creating a collaborative and responsive organizational culture is addressed by investing in an intentional, long-term leadership development strategy. Having strong, competent candidates ready and eager to perform as leaders in supervisory and management positions is a critical ongoing succession need. Leadership competencies set clear expectations and accountability. Leadership Academy is rooted in these competencies and gives training and opportunities to explore and develop a leadership mindset. Learning is applied via the capstone project.


We developed seven Leadership Competencies (with success based on HOW [behavior] we do our work). Intentional selection of leaders with promotional potential, aptitude and willingness to develop, and a process to develop a ready pool of talent to fill PCLS leadership pipeline. The curriculum is based on Leadership Competencies. The cohort was given $50,000 and the goal of introducing our new Strategic Framework and had complete authority and responsibility for developing, planning and executing all aspects of Staff In-Service Day.


We achieved 100 percent Leadership Academy graduation and 66 percent promotion rate to date (internal and to other organizations). 100 percent of participants agreed they gained knowledge, skills and strategies that can be applied directly to their position as a leader. Successful Staff In-Service Day planned and executed solely by the cohort. Attendees agreed they understood they have a role to play in strategic framework, and how the framework clarifies PCLS goals and directions. Staff In-Service attendance (optional): 78 percent (301 people).