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My grandmother is part of a sports fan club. This club is officially recognized by their team and receives exclusive benefits for their members such as early access to tickets that have early access to tickets that have a waiting list of months to years. The founder in question is one of my grandmother's oldest friends. A group of their friends put the club together a little more than fifty years ago so she's had plenty of time to get attached.

This woman is an unpleasant person, stubborn, loud, and generally abrasive. Right now, she is a co-chairperson of this club. She does very little now for the club other than cause tension. One example is that she demands someone print everything digital for her, admittedly, this is something fairly common among those uncomfortable with technology. In her case however, it is truly a demand and slows down club administration. Most of the people in the club value it too much to leave just because of her, but it has been voiced by a number of people that it would be much more enjoyable without her causing rifts. Additionally, she does very little to actually help the club in any way.

My grandmother, being a far more likable person, has to hear from the club members about how unpleasant this woman makes it (as well as experience the unpleasantness herself) and hear from the founder about how everyone is conspiring against her.

So my question is, for the sake of my grandmother's sanity: How can you convince a founding member to step down from their position of authority?

This question is about taking someone's place, which my grandmother has no interest in doing.

Edit: I believe it is registered as a non-profit. I don't know the exact structure since I'm asking on behalf of my grandmother.

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    Could you clarify if your "club" is a registered one, a non-profit, under which legal structure it has been created...? I mean, depending on the structure, you may have to use some different kind of leverage/bargain to discuss this matter with the old lady/founder. – OldPadawan Apr 28 '18 at 6:27
  • With the common phrase "it's time to X" we tend to confuse ourself into thinking our subjective opinion is an objective fact, and we lose awareness of what we want and why. – Andy Jul 14 '18 at 17:04
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One thing that I've heard of being done is to not remove them but rather promote them. You don't make them step down, you offer the chance to step up. Create a new position, something like "Founding Chair" and give it some ceremonial duties. That takes the person out of the day-to-day role, gives them a grander title, and allows business to continue on with less of their interaction.

The biggest challenge is to convince the person that there's a benefit to them to take on this role. Their duties need to be respected and they need to be seen as important - otherwise they'll abdicate their new honorary post and come back even worse and angry about being eased out.

  • This is a great answer because kicking the founder out of his position will not bring you any glory or fame. – puck Apr 28 '18 at 12:07
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    Excellent suggestion! This is the "you have been promoted to be our Ambassador in Patagonia" tactic ;) – peufeu Apr 28 '18 at 15:06
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How to convince a founder it's time to let go of their “power?”

You need to have a bit more ammunition than they want things printed out, and some members are annoyed.

In every group there are people others do not get on with, and people are often dismissive of critical admin work. Often an organisation needs a pain to get these things done. I have often seen people dismiss the amount of work needed behind the scenes to get anything done for a group, until they have to do it. And sometimes when you get rid of the cog that makes things work, there is no cog to replace them, so it all falls apart.

So if you want to replace someone, anyone, make sure you know exactly everything they do. One suggestion would be to get a volunteer to shadow them, so they get to see everything, and explain this is succession planning. And the reason is because the job they do is so good, no one actually knows all the things they do, and without them this would all fall apart, and no one wants that to happen.

Once you know all the functions involved and work load, it will then be possible to see if anyone or a group are up to the job of succession. And also at this point you may discover why this individual is a pain and why they are not letting go because they know it needs this type of dedication.

  • Admittedly, my example is fairly trivial, there is certainly much more to the issue. You do bring up an important point though. – WordsandNumbers Apr 28 '18 at 23:16
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Chairpersons don't just pop into existence. typically they'll be selected for the role by a vote ( good old "secret ballot" :-) ) or be maybe the only volunteer for what can often be a thankless role.

So if you want to move someone out of a role, you have to work within the rules of the organization. In particular you have to offer an alternative that the majority see as better.

What you or your grandmother wants is not relevant to what the majority want. You have to persuade them that what your candidate offers is better.

My grandmother, being a far more likable person, has to hear from the club members about how unpleasant this woman makes it (as well as experience the unpleasantness herself) and hear from the founder about how everyone is conspiring against her.

According to you everyone is conspiring against her ! Her complaints are justified.

Have people tried supporting this person constructively rather than complaining about her ?

Maybe this founder has other problems (health, etc.) and could do with more help and less whining from her club. Think about it from their side.

So my question is, for the sake of my grandmother's sanity: How can you convince a founding member to step down from their position of authority?

Your "grandmother's sanity", as you rather dramatically put it, can be served by your grandmother stepping away from the problem. Removing the founder (which is honestly nasty sounding) is, therefore, not the only solution.

You probably can't force them out unless you can find someone else who they founder sees as an acceptable replacement. As it's clear some of you are conspiring to remove her and she's angry at that (and who wouldn't be ?) you are simply not in a position to speak to her in a friendly way. You might consider a third party intervention, but I doubt that would welcomed.

Otherwise wait for a democratic option to appear.

Democracy does require you put up with leaders you don't like sometimes. A number of current examples leap to mind. :-)

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