Own the Behavior, Not the Organization

Property Laws of a ToddlerWhy do certain members fill like they own the group they have joined?

I belong to several groups.  The three that I’m most involved in are a read and critique group (member for 3 years), a Celtic discussion group (3 years) and a professional library association (30 years).   AARP eligible members compose the first two groups.  The library group is about half senior citizens and half librarians too young to be retirement eligible.

One or more members (both male and female)  expect the rest of us to follow wherever they lead.  Some of them do a better job of paying lip service to other people’s ideas, but it’s a pretense since they assume their ideas are so much better.

Read and Critique Group — Some of the members have actually taken their marbles and left the group entirely.  The group was in transition and they rightly felt that their ideas and experience would benefit the group.  When all of their ideas were not welcomed with open arms, they left in various fits of pique.  (This may explain  why they appear to have lost a few marbles in the process-pun intended).

Celtic Discussion Group — Two leaders and several participants.  One of the leaders offers recommendations and then promptly assumes consensus.  During the course of each discussion, she’ll take us on a tangent of her choosing.  Often, we lack the time to get back to the chapter we were supposed to be discussing.

Library Group –  One person has carried the organization for several years.  She is its most successful fundraiser and has repeatedly ‘lent’ the group thousands of dollars by putting a variety of conference-related expenses on her credit card until she can be reimbursed by the organization.  She is our corporate memory and is, fortunately, a benign despot.  She is also the only one of the examples given who acknowledges her behavior.

Why do some people feel that like ‘their’ organization is ‘theirs?  These are all organizations that are run by volunteers.  Except for the Celtic Discussion group which is too small to have a board,  the groups have a board and committees.  There is as least one King or Queen Bee who feels that the group should be run in their own image whether they are on the board or heading a committee.  Except for the lady from the library group, they would be astonished if confronted with with how others view their organizational usurpation.

Do you belong to a volunteer group that is OWNED by one or more members, despite the fact that the group is open to any interested or dues-paying member? What do you think about these self-appointed Queen or King Bees?



4 thoughts on “Own the Behavior, Not the Organization”

  1. Every group has at least one queen bee. If it doesn’t, it falls apart from lack of direction. Larger groups benefit from having more than one queen bee, so there is competition to keep both in check, and the queen bees are greatly outnumbered by the general membership. That means the queen bees need to be more skillful, better listeners, more responsive than they do in a small group that is relatively easy to dominate. The bottom line is that small groups tend to require leaders with less polished organizational skills, and that’s what they get.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah yes. I’ve been there, done that, left. This is a good summary.

    In the group I was part of, I attributed some of the bad behavior of self-appointed Queen Bees to the “big fish, small pond” syndrome. I watched people who didn’t have much power or prestige in the world-at-large develop huge egos out of proportion to their responsibilities. Just one example, but I think it happens. Also, there are skills required to be a good leader. Some people have them, some don’t. For example: Be a good listener. Compromise. You know… stuff we were supposed to learn in kindergarten…. Some folks never got learned the lesson.

    Liked by 1 person

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