How to Recognize and Attack Stockholm Syndrome in Your Nonprofit Arts Organization

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Two real cases (quotes paraphrased):

“Of course they’ll stay. Where are they going to go?” said a highly-paid nonprofit leader to his board after cutting everyone else’s salary by 25% because, you know, the economy and his vision.

“They came with no skills; I taught them everything,” said another leader when asked how he managed to avoid turnover.

To attack Stockholm Syndrome:

  • Interact across the organization. SS leaders use employee non-communication to triangulate.
  • Don’t work alone or in some ear-budded isolation. SS leaders crave isolation.  What you don’t know WILL hurt you.
  • Love the mission, not the leader. When an SS leader’s actions supersede the mission (if there is one), the ship is sinking, so…
  • Continually seek new work. SS leaders may call you a deserter; do you want to work for someone who categorizes people like that?
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One response

  1. Thanks Alan – I just left a not-to-be-named institution that did ALL of the above, and to the letter. It is a relief to see it in print, because one of the things SS management does, is try to convince individuals that they are nuts. Well, I’m not, and I’m already interviewing with much healthier folks Thank you!

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