My girlfriend is the manager of a veterinary medical clinic that does a lot of charity work on strays or for elderly that can't afford the care for their pets.
She is a veterinary nurse but also has experience managing 2 small businesses prior to this.
The clinic was created by a group of people that are all in the 60s. They were talking about retiring and possibly even shutting down the clinic since they want to do something else with their lives.
The charity work is funded by two charity second hand shops run by volunteers.
My girlfriend proposed to manage the clinic and grow the private sector to minimize reliance on the charity shops and the plan was accepted.
The woman, which we'll call 'M', who is at the center of this clinic, started some 15 years ago, was supposed to deal with the charity shops during the transition period.
Then the problems began almost right away as a lot of information started to emerge:
M is universally disliked and feared by all the employees; she will have an opinion on everything, likes to parade as an omnipotent queen whenever she can.
The clinic is not working with numerous resources in the area because she doesn't like them (whatever that means), and, over the years, these businesses, charity groups, etc have all started to not like her either.
She will not accept to discuss any topic that may go against her core beliefs. The other board members will have different opinions but when she is in the room, they're afraid of her and will line up with her opinion. The number 2 person being the account in frail health will forget logic and numbers in her presence.
The worst of all is that she has genuinely good intentions, but absolutely no medical training, no business knowledge and all of this was made possible as her husband helped to finance the project a long time ago.
The clinic has a history of being always 1-2months away from bankruptcy.
As my girlfriend changed some of the staff and the morale is better and the future looks brighter, that woman has reinserted herself in the daily life of the clinic and is making random decision largely based on her mood and who she likes, or doesn't like. Almost everything is emotional and since it looks like the clinic can go on after all, she won't miss whatever limelight she see in it for anything.
Today, even though the blood test machine is giving faulty results because it needs to be fixed, the most important topic is to get a steam cleaner for the floors and she will not listen to any arguments.
So, she pops here and there and makes totally uneducated decisions, has been befriending one employee that comes from the same country as her and while my girlfriend does the day to day management, it totally undermines any authority she has but also prevents her from accomplishing the goals she set herself.
Now, comes the question: How can she put her foot down? maybe by stating that she will leave unless the high school parade stops? but maybe it will take un til M really retires as some point.
What strategy would you advise when dealing with a bully emotional board member that goes from devil to angel depending if you like her opinion of the day?
I have run several businesses much larger than the clinic and I tend to favor that she tell them she'll quit if things stay like this because I believe in cutting losses. At the same time, this was kind of her dream job since childhood so she is quite torn.
[TL;DR: My girlfriend manages an unqualified emotional queen's pet project; the kingdom's subjects are all quite unhappy with the high-school mood, should she move on?]