I found an intriguing idea in “The Influencer“: Dr. Mimi Silbert, founder of the Delancey Street Foundation, has been successful in rehabilitating over 14,000 homeless, mentally ill, and addicted people by changing two vital behaviors. The only two rules for her residents are:
- Each person must take responsibility for someone else’s success. After a person enters Delancey, he is coached by a resident in a skill, such as setting tables in the restaurant. After a week or so, the new resident then becomes the coach for a newer resident. The focus is thus changed from how you are doing to how your crew is doing. It cannot be all about me at Delancey.
- Each resident must speak up to people who are breaking rules, drifting off, becoming verbally aggressive and otherwise behaving badly, every single time. For many people, breaking the street code that says take care of yourself first and don’t rat on anyone is very hard; learning to confront problems and abide by norms is essential to working well together and becoming a functioning member of society.
Imagine if we applied just the first rule to library staff: each person must take responsibility for someone else’s success. What would that look like in terms of teamwork and staff cohesion? No one would be working in a vacuum, and every one would be personally responsible for the success of the organization. What a concept!