Friday, December 06, 2002


I'm chairing a search committee and was complaining after a meeting that I don't like leadership situations because I agonize too much. Then I realized that what I really don't like is any situation where it is wisest to not be open with people. The last time I chaired a search committee I got into a situation where I was open with some candidates, and the only thing that came of it was they ended up feeling mistreated. I was trying to help, to see if it might be possible to hire a husband and the wife, but it didn't work out. It was a lesson for me that there are situations where being open with people just means they get hurt.

I realize "leadership" isn't what I am really talking about. To me "authority" is about how we play our roles, not about job descriptions. I guess I'm talking about the constraints on the person who is "in charge."

I worked for a while at an innovative small college where department meetings were run by consensus rather than Roberts Rules of Order . It wasn't inspiring--it just meant longer meetings because the group would just wait until the people who were blocking consensus got tired and left and then make a decision. So I'm not saying I want to avoid hierarchical organizations entirely, but I don't like being on either side of it.

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