Our Insane Executive Director

I work for a small nonprofit organization. We have fewer than 30 employees. Pretty much everyone here is an extraordinary human being. I feel so lucky to work with such wonderful people. I feel much more comfortable working here than I did at my last place of employment. My personality fits better.

I feel bad for our Accountant. She  is a CPA and knows what she’s doing. She’s an experienced, professional, knowledgeable woman who does her job. Unfortunately, she reports directly to our Executive Director, who is insane.

Before she became Executive Director, the Executive Director had the Accountant’s job. So the Executive Director thinks she still knows how to do the job better than the Accountant.

Our previous Accountant quit her job because the Executive Director also micromanaged her and treated her like shit.

The Executive Director’s Administrative Assistant also quit last fall because the ED is so awful to work for.

The ED now yells at our current Accountant all the time and treats her like she doesn’t know anything. This Accountant will also be leaving, I’m sure. It’s only a matter of time. She has too much self respect and confidence to be treated this way by anyone.

The ED has also caused me a particular amount of stress, but thank goodness I don’t report directly to her, so it’s only “trickle-down” stress. My boss (who reports to her) has cushioned most of the blow, for which I am very grateful. He is also not someone who gets visibly upset, so if she’s unpleasant to him, he just mollifies her until she forgets about whatever she’s upset about. He may get tense about something, but he doesn’t abuse the rest of us when he’s feeling that way. He just figures out how to address the problem, and he addresses it. This is a real strength of his.

Today our Accountant called me about something we’ve been working on and told me the ED just gave her an earful about how a bill is being paid. There’s absolutely no problem. All our bases are covered and we’ve both done exactly what we were supposed to do.

Our ED is a smart, experienced woman. Her weaknesses, however, are as follows:


  • lack of preparation,
  • disorganization,
  • an addiction to micromanagement,
  • trying to do too much at once,
  • anxiety and panic,
  • revealing her anxiety and panic at work, and
  • not having the professional communications skills to effectively manage employees.

The irony is rich, because she is also someone who reads all these books about management, running non profit organizations, building an effective workforce, etc. She has almost singlehandedly supported that area of the publishing industry. She’s very interested in ideas, which an Executive Director should be. She just doesn’t treat people well.

I don’t think anyone here likes working for her. She’s got some really great people reporting to her, so it’s too bad she’s got such a horrendous management style.

It’s sort of like working for an alcoholic. One minute, everything is great and she is so proud of all of us for doing such great work, and the next minute, she’s yelling at someone and panicking when a rational conversation would do the trick.

Like many people, I am sensitive to irrational, moody behavior. Yes, I have days where I am feeling anxious, upset, sad, bored, exuberant, or whatever. But I do my very best to remain steady and rational at work. I don’t want to be someone who others look at and think, “uh-oh, what kind of mood is she going to be in today?”

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One Response to Our Insane Executive Director

  1. Alyssa says:

    Ugh. She does sound insane! Managers and directors need to be good with people. Geez.

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