The discussion concerning Michael Gorman and his recent rant against Blog People has been picked over by many. I do not want to discuss his views in particular, though I have some opinions on them, rather I want to put forth one of the issues this whole fiasco raises. The issue about which I am speaking is the nature of leadership. To be a leader of an organization is to give of yourself for the betterment of the whole, to put forth more effort than you would ask of those you lead, and to realize that while serving as a leader, you never stop being a part and representation of that group.
A leader gives of themselves because they believe the organization they serve is more important than their own needs. A leader who asks their members to give 100% should always be willing to give much more than 100%. They have to show, by example, service to the organization. These two tenants do not require much defense in that most will agree with the above.
The third aspect of a leader is more fluid and therefore can be a grey area of responsibility which leaders of dubious quality often try to escape, especially after being caught doing something “wrong”. As a leader in the public sphere of a public organization, a person is under constant scrutiny. Every action, every utterance, is a direct reflection on the organization which they serve. Though we would sometimes choose for that not to be the case, it is and there is no refuting that every mistake will be greatly circulated for all the world to see. For a leader to imply that their actions or publicly aired opinions do not reflect the group which they serve is both naive and dangerous. At no time during their tenure in office, and sometimes beyond, do they stop representing their organization. To act as if it were true that a leader could stop being a direct representation of their organization, would be like the president of a country pretending that his every action does not reflect upon his people. When our president (insert one you do not like) says something that we find appalling do we chalk it up to “Well that is just his own personal opinion.”? No, we inwardly groan and think the rest of the world believes we are crazy because we have let this man represent us as a people and nation. For Michael Gorman to make such blanket statements about blogs, technology, and Google in a public setting, and then to claim that they were his own personal opinions is ludicrous. For the next year, Mr. Gorman has to understand that his opinions are our opinions. Like it or not, we have elected a man that even puts disclaimers on his ALA Council emails.
PS All of the above is my personal opinion and in no way commits or implicates the American Library Association or the California State University, Fresno or any other organization of which I am a member or with which I have ever been affiliated. M.
He is under the naÃ¯ve belief that he can act as president of the American Library Association only when it suits his purposes. Mr. Gorman, please start acting like a true leader and take responsibility for the organization for which you will soon be running and which you are now currently representing. Remember that we are all stereotyped by your remarks and make them with the rest of us in mind.
I think that the next year will be a divisive one if current opinions are any indication.
For reference, Gorman’s response to the outcry after his LJ piece was sent to the ALA Council listerv and can be found here.
–Jane, thinks being a leader is one of the most rewarding and one of the hardest things to do
BTW, I just realized that Mr. Gorman would not appreciate these comments or even given them much credibility as I write anonymously. If he would care to respond to me, I would be more than happy to email him with my real name and contact information.