A failure of leadership

This is what happens when you buy into the tolerance trap and permit the lavender mafia entrance into your organization:

Employees and volunteers at Mozilla – the organisation which promotes open source software such as its Firefox browser – have called for new chief executive Brendan Eich to stand down because of his donations to political campaigns to ban gay marriage.

This week Mozilla named Brendan Eich as its new chief executive, following the resignation of Gary Kovacs which was announced in April last year. Eich was previously Mozilla’s chief technology officer and has a long history with the group dating back to before its formation from Netscape, having worked on the Navigator browser in the 90s and creating JavaScript in a marathon, ten-day programming session in 1995.

The controversy stems from a $1,000 donation he made in 2008 to support California’s Proposition 8, which opposed gay marriage. The donation was listed in a public database with Mozilla appearing next to Eich’s name as his employer. It caused controversy in the technology industry when it was uncovered in 2012.

Eich posted on his own blog to “express my sorrow at having caused pain” and promised an “active commitment to equality” at Mozilla. “I am committed to ensuring that Mozilla is, and will remain, a place that includes and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, economic status, or religion,” he wrote.

But employees were unconvinced. Chris McAvoy, who leads Mozilla’s Open Badges project, took to Twitter last night to call for the new chief executive to stand down and said that he had been “disapointed” by his promotion. 

Eich is in over his head and clearly has no idea what he is dealing with here. He committed a major blunder with that statement; it’s rather like watching a gamma male shot down by a woman respond by supplicating even harder.

What he should have done is fired everyone who called upon him to resign and announced that anyone who would permit their political ideology to interfere with their work at Mozilla or Mozilla’s internal affairs would be fired. That would have brought the matter to a speedy close and prevented similar outbreaks of political insubordination. Instead, he poured gasoline on the fire by showing that he is vulnerable to ideological pressure.

When confronted by a pressure group, one should never apologize and never back down. Confront every challenger outside the organization and crush every challenger inside it. People respect strength and confidence in a leader, even when they disagree with him, because at least he shows that he is decisive and is capable of providing direction. Ironically, in his inept response to the attacks on him, Eich has shown that he is unfit for leadership because he is fundamentally a follower.

What he should have said is: “Like everyone else at Mozilla, I am free to donate to any political organization or cause I choose. It is no one’s business here to tell me to whom I can and cannot donate my money, in the past or in the future. I have donated another $10,000 to [some anti-homogamy outfit], fired Mr. McAvoy for cause, and I will fire any other Mozilla employee or volunteer who publicly demands that this organization to cater to his personal political or ideological beliefs instead of pursuing our corporate objectives.”