What to do about a controlling and narcissist leader

The leader of our co-op refers to the co-op as “her group to protect.” She has surrounded herself with a board who supports her fully and does her bidding without question. The difficulty is, when questioned about decisions she has made by co-op members, this leader has  told co-op members that the board makes decisions and that the way things are run are none of their (the co-op member’s) business. She is a very capable in many areas, however she is controlling and many times unkind.

Unfortunately, the board members are blind to all of this. They support her fully. Co-op moms are afraid to confront this leader for fear of the consequences. She is sweet to those who support her and speaks poorly/holds a grudge against those who conflict with her. 

My question is what can we do? Because our co-op is not under the authority of a church, there were no pastors, counselors, or elders to help resolve the conflict. Is it common for co-op boards to have some sort of outside oversight to help with internal conflict resolution?

This is such a great group of women, but I fear that even a loving confrontation with this leader would cause a split in the group. I do not want to “take down” this leader.  —

I appreciate any advice or counsel you can give. Thank you.

Elizabeth

Elizabeth,

I’m sorry to hear about the narcissistic and over-controlling leader you have. Unfortunately, there is not much oversight of nonprofit boards, unless they are doing something criminal. Then you report them to your state’s attorney general.

The group should have bylaws. Try to get your hands on a copy of the bylaws. Perhaps you could see where she is in violation of the bylaws and start there. I would recommend that you gather a small team and then a group of you approach a current board member with your concerns.

Don’t go it alone. Be very specific. List dates and specific examples of how the bylaws are violated. Ask for a current board member to request changes to the bylaws such as term limits on all officers. That’s a start.

It may not work because your leader sounds like a narcissist to me. Over-controlling and narcissistic leaders don’t listen to anyone.

Narcissistic leaders

I’ve been reading a lot about narcissism lately. Here’s an article that explains the characteristics of a narcissist leader. So-Called “Strong” Leaders

Almost all the experts like psychologist DorctorRammani on YouTube say that a lot of leaders (like your board members who do whatever the leaders wants) do not recognize narcissism or its dangers. They advise that the best approach is to stay away from the narcissist.

Your only choice may be to leave. That may be the only way to protect yourself from emotional harm. But be sure to speak privately with a board member (but not the narcissist leader) first so they know your reasons for leaving.

Be prepared to be gas-lighted (where they make you out to be the bad guy!) or slandered (trying to damage your reputation) or gossiped about or be called “a hater,” or “divisive” etc. Unfortunately, some narcissists can get nasty when they feel threatened.

Take care!

Carol Topp, CPA
HomeschoolCPA.com
Helping Homeschool Leaders

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