tail wagging the dog, the

the tail wagging the dog

The smallest or least important part of something in control of the larger or more important elements; a reversal of typical roles or dynamics of power. They reorganized their entire weekly schedule just because their son likes to sleep in late. Talk about the tail wagging the dog. Their group is small but very vocal, so be sure that management doesn't give in to their demands. We don't want the tail wagging the dog, after all.
See also: dog, tail, wag

tail wagging the dog, the

A small or unimportant factor or element governing an important one; a reversal of the proper roles. For example, She found herself explaining the new therapy to her doctor-a real case of the tail wagging the dog . [c. 1900]
See also: tail, wag