• Third Sector Radio USA

    Is there a correlation between nonprofits’ penchant for charismatic leaders and hostile work environments? This question is intended to go beyond the offending officials themselves, and look at the preferences of boards who hire offending CEOs/EDs, or the CEOs/EDs who hire offending officials.

    Seventeen years ago the very charismatic Executive Director of a small nonprofit, in which I was the Development Director, was found to be having an affair with a third staff member by the board Vice President. The VP approached me (in private), because I already had much experience with nonprofits, to ask for a recommendation about how to proceed with his new-found information. I urged the VP to inform the board. When he did, he learned that about a quarter of the board members were already aware of the affair, and knew it had been going on for some time. When all the board members learned about it, they insisted the ED resign, but asked him for his recommendation to replace him. He recommended–you may have guessed it–the staff member with whom he was having an affair, and the board approved that staff as the new ED. Somehow, I was blamed by some board members for causing the debacle, and quit shortly after, in spite of having a passion for the cause and having done some rather remarkable work for the organization.