Call Me Indispensable
For me, it is often the person who is inquisitive enough to look for the unseen, to explore in the seldom looked-in nooks and crannies and the ones who look beyond their job description to discover all they can about the work (whether job or committee work) and the place they work in. Their job description - whether at the library or working on committees or in an association - is really only an outline that frames the larger discovery and work they are involved in. And they are willing to stand aside from expected outcomes and behavior to discover and participate in helping service and issues evolve to a better place. These people become indispensable to the organization.
What the deuce am I talking about? Here are a few entirely pedestrian examples to illustrate that "indispensability" difference:
Many years ago, a woman in a wheelchair came to the check-out area of the very small library I worked at. Our bathrooms on the main floor were not accessible at that time. The desk staffer who had worked at the library for many years suggested she use the restroom at the nearby fast food restaurant. What was confounding and amazing to me was that we had accessible restrooms in the lower level near the public meeting rooms and staff lounge. But she had never been in them and so didn't direct our patron there. Certainly a lack of training was in play but I would also suggest a lack of curiosity and taking responsibility for one's own knowledge of the building played another huge part in this ickily memorable incident.
I have also worked with someone who began her career at the library almost a quarter century ago in basically a clerk's position. Her natural curiosity led her to learn her job duties and then continue to look for other learning opportunities within the department and library. She always said yes when asked to take on a new duty. As she added to her expertise over the years and added job duties, she became the go-to person for any number of staffers. She now heads the department she started in and supervises her former manager. She is someone who looks to solve problems and say yes when people come to her and she still keeps learning. I call that indispensable.
Whether it's being willing to look for ways to collaborate to solve a problem; having the moxie to learn what's tucked away in storage that can be used; happy to share thoughts and plans instead of keeping them close to the chest; willing to go the extra mile ("No problem, we can try that"); ready to raise a hand rather than duck their head when work needs doing - these are the people I like to have working alongside me in any situation. They are "there" for me and ultimately there for the public or the membership.
It's something I aspire to in return. I think it would be good to be indispensable!
Image: 'Heroes' http://www.flickr.com/photos/22421294@N00/266143521