Report: Leaving Leadership Roles due to Low Morale – Part 1 (August 2023)

Late last year I began a data collection project connected to my work focusing on the low-morale experiences of formal library leaders. Specifically, I created the project to learn more about about how formal library leaders decided to leave a workplace where they were experiencing low morale. In this first part of a two-part report, I share quantitative data. The second part will offer qualitative data.

These quantitative data reflect 51 responses.

  • 61% are currently not experiencing low morale
  • 98% have experienced low morale while in a past formal leadership position
  • 78% are Caucasian; 8% are African-American; 8% are Latino/Hispanic
  • 80% are female
  • 51% indicate their low-morale experience lasted 1 – 3 years; 28% indicate more than 3 years
  • 51% held their impacted leadership position for 1 – 3 years; 29% held their impacted position for 4- 6 years
  • Respondents note the following Impact Factors within their low-morale experience:
    • 76% Uncertainty & Mistrust
    • 75% Legacy Toxicity
    • 75% Potemkin Power
    • 62% Misaligned Values
    • 59% Positional Isolation
    • 59% Accountability
    • 43% Crossfire
  • 36% determined/realized within 13 months – 2 years that they should leave their role due to their low-morale experience
  • Respondents shared they had to negotiate/resolve the following as they decided to leave:
    • 69% Self-perception of failure as a leader (e.g., not being able to “fix” the organization)
    • 65% Salary goals or cost-of-living differentials
    • 55% Self-disappointment
    • 51% Geographical parameters
    • 51% Quality of workplace relationships
  • 66% found another another job outside of the low-morale organization
  • Of those who found a new job:
    • 33% went to another library/archives workplace, but not in a formal leadership role
    • 29% went to another library/archives workplace and to another formal LIS leadership role
    • 27% did not go to another library/archives workplace; and they did not go to a formal leadership role in another industry
    • 11% did not go to another library/archives workplace, and did gain a formal leadership role in another industry
  • 53% of those who left their leadership role due to a low-morale experience wishes they had left sooner.

This data collection project is ongoing – if you are/were a formal leader who dealt with low morale while in your position and left your role due to your experience, please participate. I’ll periodically share updates to this report as responses continue.  Also, see other data collection projects or data collection reports.


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