With the climate talks in Copenhagen happening this week, and the police brutality against the protesters, it leads me to think about conflict and getting through to people in power. Ever had a situation in your nonprofit workplace where it seemed like you couldn’t get through to someone in power? What did you do? What was the boss doing? Did you organize a protest? Did you sit at your desk and feel sorry for yourself? What could you have done?
I have been talking with my friend R. about the conflicts at his workplace. I’ve been poring over “Battles Between Somebodies and Nobodies” by Dr. Julie Ann Wambach, and it’s an invaluable resource on how to deal with rankists of various stripes.
A few Somebody Rankist Types
- Tyrant -who without emotion does everything to make underlings obey.
- Seething Giant –use angry outbursts to intimidate others into submission.
- Gangster –use others-often without their knowledge-to keep dissenters in line or push them out the door.
- Sovereign -design a system that ensures loyalty at the expense of the greater good.
- Grandee -take advantage of their position so that others support their lavish lifestyle.
- Scapegoater -blame others to distract from their own mistakes.
- Fabricator -feigning a legitimate position, lying and stealing.
- Gatekeeper -award access to individuals and services solely to meet their own personal needs
- Snubber -ignore those they consider to be lesser than they are.
When I look at the climate talk leaders, I see Somebodies. Maybe Snubbers. Maybe Gangsters, Maybe Scapegoaters. When I look at the police, I see Gatekeepers. And when I look at the protesters, I see Nobodies who are pulling the Activist rank. It was such a relief to have a VOCABULARY to talk about these things with R. How can you make your voice heard in Copenhagen? And how can you make your voice heard at work? Do you recognize any of your former bosses in these ranks? What would you like to do about it? You can read Wambach’s book, “Battles Between Somebodies and Nobodies” for more details on Rankism at work in general, and you can read The Conflict chapter in The Wild Woman’s Guide to Fundraising for how to deal with specific kinds of nonprofit rankists.
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Thank you Nick. I am so glad you liked this article. Often, when we just get the vocabulary to talk about something, we can name it, claim it, and change it.
We validate our own realities.
Great article. There are many people in the workplace that behave like this (and many of us probably have at some point). Being aware of others exhibiting these behaviors will help us deal with them, and being aware of these behaviors will help us to be better leaders.