Following on from yesterday, here are my answers for today’s TEDxLibrariansTO Coundown Questions:

Question 1: What should we expect/demand of our thought leaders?

I’m not sure I like the way this question is phrased, preferring something like, “What do thought leaders actually do?” We certainly shouldn’t demand anything of our thought leaders, it’s not like we’re paying them to do their jobs. Even “expectations” seems like a strong word.

To a large extent, thought leaders just are. I’m not sure we can speak of “followers” having “expectations” of leaders in the same way we could in a more traditional organizational or institutional context.

So what do I “expect” of a thought leader? To just continue to be themselves.

In my experience, thought leaders that become too conscious of their status as thought leaders, who pander to who they perceive as their followers, well, they become parodies of themselves.

Question 2: We can’t all be thought leaders all the time. Often, by necessity we are followers. So, what does it mean to follow a thought leader well?

Once again, this question makes me a bit uncomfortable.

The only thing I want to say here is that I don’t think we should follow “thought leaders” in the same sense that we would follow our bosses or political leaders.

We respect thought leaders by listening to their ideas, critically evaluating them and judging whether or not adopting or advancing those ideas makes sense in our own context. These are the values that librarians promote in our own practice so we should walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

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