What Do Academic Librarians Value in a Leader? Reflections on Past Positive Library Leaders and a Consideration of Future Library Leaders

Jason Martin


A joke among managers is that managing and leading people is akin to herding cats. People can be fickle and idiosyncratic and do what they want, when they want, in seeming defiance of all tenets of logic. For good or bad, people are led by the emotions in their hearts far more than the critical thoughts in their brains. But this does not mean people are irrational actors floundering to and fro. Even cats have a method to their madness. Members of organizations like libraries want certain things from their leaders beyond mere competence. Followers want particular actions and certainties from their leaders in crises as well as banal times. While some people will never respond to leadership for a myriad of reasons, the vast majority will when they are presented with a leader that possesses the kinds of characteristics meaningful to them and not just to a leadership theorist.

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