The anxiety self-help/support group that I am a co-facilitator/co-leader of is having a serious problem - our long-term leader is about 80 years old, and I suspect (from a variety of events) that he is getting senile. He won’t step down as leader, he won’t actually lead (us co-leaders do everything the group needs to be done), and he’s about to make a decision that could potentially get the group in trouble with Revenue Canada for tax problems (his is the only name Revenue Canada has as a director of the group - the rest of us are not recognized by them, and they won’t tell us anything due to privacy laws). He needs to step down and not be a leader of the group in any way any longer, but whenever we talk to him about anyone taking over the things he still does, he gets defensive, petulant, and leaves.
I have no experience with a situation like this - how do you get an old man to do the right thing, when he is possibly not thinking clearly any longer? We don’t want to be mean to him, or embarrass him, or humiliate him, but he’s got to go for the good of the group. We are all volunteers - there are no paid positions involved. Any suggestions for a bloodless coup?
Does he have any close friends or family members you can appeal to? They might be able to persuade him that stepping down would be in the best interests of the group. If it comes from an unbiased third party, he might not see it as simply a power grab.
I really want to call you a usurper, though. Such a fun word.
Does your volunteer group have a Constitution and/or By-Laws? Absent them, most folks default to Robert’s Rules of Order. Propose an election. Accept nominations at a regular meeting, and hold an election the following month, with the new leader to assume office in the space of 2 or three months. That will afford you the necessary time to get official identity questions resolved. While you’re at it, elect a Vice-Poobah so all power isn’t vested in one person who can get a case of the ass and pack up their marbles, walk out, and leave the rest of you scratching your backsides. If the existing guy doesn’t like it, remind him of two words: “Majority Rule”.
I’ve been trying not to call it a mutiny to anyone else.
Call an election? That’s a very interesting idea. I don’t think we have a constitution per se. I also like the idea of majority rules - there are four of us who want to make the tax situation go away (which we can, easily, if he will sign one simple piece of paper), and one of us (the old feller, the only one with signing authority) who doesn’t want to sign it.
I’ve thought about us moving the group out from under him, brazil. In some ways that would also be a simple solution.
Are you tax exempt? In the US that means you have to have bylaws and a Board of Directors with powers to manage the organization. Are you incorporated? There must be incorporparation papers outlining some kind of governance structure.
What kind of tax problems are you talking about? Lucky for you, if his name is all they have relative to the organization, they will come after HIM, and not you. OTOH, if you’ve all given him money – like some kind of membership dues or fees – without any kind of governance structure, you may have to kiss that money goodbye.
How is it YOU are a “co-facilitator/co-leader”? How did you come across this title? Were you elected? Did this now-senile guy just ask you to serve in that capacity? How you became what you are should provide some clues about how he became what he is, and how to change it.
It is a very small group, with a very informal leadership structure (this whole experience is making me appreciate why people formalize leadership issues). I became a co-leader by continuing to show up and do stuff that needed to be done. I suspect he became one the same way (about 30 years ago, I think).
It looks like the tax problem might be averted - it sounds like he will (very unwillingly) sign the document he needs to sign to make it go away. We’ll see if he does what he said he would do. It doesn’t change the ongoing leadership problem he is creating, though. Our group is suffering from him (probably inadvertently) blocking the people who are actually leading the group from doing what the group needs done.
I agree with Boyo Jim’s question. The fact that Revenue Canada feels this man has some exclusive official status implies there was some formal acknowledgement of his leadership at some point. At what point did Revenue Canada make this declaration and what prompted them to do so? That’s the issue you need to reverse. Everything else is just symbolism; let him call himself the leader if it makes him happy and everyone else can elect an assistant leader who’ll give the actual orders.
That is an excellent question. Revenue Canada knows of us because we used to have a charitable number, back when we were a large organization. We lost the number because of - you guessed it - senile leader failing to file tax returns for the group for 10 years. We’ve been trying to get the number re-instated, but we no longer meet the criteria for a charitable group (due to frauds and scams, it is no longer an easy process - it is a very long, arduous task to prove we are a charity now, and not worth it for a group as small as we are now). If leader signs a simple form saying that we are no longer seeking the number, it all goes away. If he doesn’t sign the form, Revenue Canada wants either the information to become a charitable organization completed (which we basically can’t do) or they want a tax return for a charitable organization not seeking a number done (which we basically can’t do).
I’m going to find out more about how he became leader. Maybe we could gently remind him of the duties he is expected to do as leader, and let him make the decision that he no longer has any interest in doing them.
ETA - Those were not OUR frauds and scams - just general frauds and scams which have tightened the charitable world up so much that it doesn’t fart, it squeaks.