I know this risks some of you saying: tl;dr, but I hope someone out there will read and offer some advice I can implement. I certainly can't ask my chair for advice (you'll see why if you read further).
My chair is out to get me, and I don't know how to deal with it. I am a director of a program, which puts me below chair status, but with certain administrative duties.
I have noticed that each time a faculty member comes to me to seek advice rather than going to her, she comes into the hallway to eavesdrop on our conversation. A few times, I've asked her to come join the conversation because it was clear she wanted to know what was going on. She also emails faculty who have come to me to ask them if they were satisfied with my decision and whether she can be of any further assistance on a matter. On the surface, this seems like a good move for a chair: to keep tabs on problems and concerns. However, in certain matters, it rankles and smacks of her not trusting me to do my job. One colleague even commented that he knows that as soon as he asks me for advice, if the chair hears of it, he will receive an email from the chair asking if SHE can offer better advice. It's a weird one-up-womanship that I don't know how to deal with, except to send people with problems to see the chair as soon as they come to see me.
What's more telling is that every time she finds out that I've published something new, or have been invited to present at a conference, I get a new task added to my workload or she challenges me on a point in front of other people (for seemingly no reason; it always happens the same day that she finds out that I've added to my CV). At first, I didn't realize this was happening. Then a colleague asked me if I had noticed how our chair gets flinty-eyed every time someone congratulates me on a new accomplishment. I had not noticed it before. I am not a braggart (in my culture, we do not promote our own accomplishments, so the only way people know what I've done is in our quarterly newsletter where everyone is required to write down what they've been working on recently, or in tenure and promotion materials).
The most recent behavior involves her making me appear crazy in front of others. A few weeks ago, she asked me to compile some data to present to faculty at our weekly meeting. I did so and sent her a copy of the chart for approval. Her response to me via email: "Fantastic, this is exactly what I wanted. Please present this to faculty next week." When we got to the meeting and I pulled out copies of the chart to share with faculty, she said, "I don't know what Cynic is handing all of you. Perhaps she can explain what it is because I have no clue," acting as if it were my idea to compile and distribute the chart. This is actually the third time she has essentially pushed me under the bus at a meeting (not just with department members; one meeting involved the academic dean, who now thinks I'm crazy!).
What, if any advice, can you offer? My chair's term is up in two years, after which point, I am likely next in line for the position (given that all other members of the department either have other responsibilities or are ineligible to be chair). I suppose I can just wait it out for two years and hope she doesn't notice me until then, but I'm worried about her seemingly jealous behavior. Or maybe I'm just paranoid and am actually the jealous one???