What makes one community association successful while another struggles?

After 20 years of experience working with community associations, I have come to the conclusion that one of the reasons is leadership. This article will define leadership, talk about the importance of leadership, characteristics of a good community association leader and how boards can lead at a higher level.

What is the importance of leadership?

Strong leadership gives and organization guidance, stability, continuity from year to year and a unity of purpose.

There are many definitions for leadership:

Drea Zigarmi, in his book The Leader Within, defines leadership as “the act of arousing, engaging, and satisfying the motives of followers – in an environment of conflict, competition or change – that results in the followers taking a course of action toward a mutually shared vision.”

What are some of the characteristics of a great community association leader?

1. A leader must be moral and ethical

2. A leader engages in proper behavior

3. A leader has read, understands and follows the governing documents and the laws regarding community associations

4. A leader is educated on community association topics and procedures

5. A leader follows the advice of professionals who are hired to help

6. A leader is respectful of other board members and community members

7. A leader places the good of the association as a priority and encourages others to do the same

8. A leader encourages mentoring and support of board members

9. A leader can conduct an efficient and effective board meeting

10. A leader sets a good example

11. A leader arouses others in the community to step up and help the community and to follow the association’s documents

If leaders are not respected by their members, they can never effectively lead an organization.

Leadership is often divided into 4 styles. What type of leader are you?

Directing leaders give specific instruction and closely supervise group tasks; they show exactly what they want others to do and how to do it.

Coaching leaders direct and supervise tasks but they also explain decisions, ask for suggestions and encourage those they work with. They will encourage all to contribute when deciding what to do and how to do it.

Supporting leaders share in the decision-making. They facilitate and support the group members’ efforts. They might say to the group, “I will be here to help if you need me.”

Delegating leaders give all decision and problem solving responsibility to the group members. The president of a board of directors may be one style, or a combination of the leadership styles. Additionally, he or she may use a different style depending on the desired outcome or the makeup of the committee or board he or she is working with.

Community Association Boards Leading at a Higher Level

Leading at a higher level is defined by Ken Blanchard, the business leadership guru, as is “the process of achieving worthwhile results while acting with respect, care, and fairness for the wellbeing of all involved.” According to Ken Blanchard, in order to lead at a higher level, boards need to do the following:

1. Set sights on the right target and vision. (Develop goals at the beginning of each year to make your community association better and work toward accomplishing those goals);

2. Treat homeowners’ right – (treating all fairly, with respect and in accordance with governing documents and community association law);

3. Treat fellow board members right (working together to accomplish the goals of the association and acknowledging their support of the association).

4. Be the right kind of leader (adhering to the characteristics of a good leader).

I believe leadership and education are intertwined so I hope that you will continue to learn as you lead your communities toward excellence.