The Benefits and Burdens of Association Board Leadership

By Karen Arena, CMCA

There are several reasons for a person to run for a community association board position, and one is because he or she wants to improve their community through service. While it may seem like a simple job, being an active member of an association’s board can be a bit more complicated, especially if the community has issues that require decisive actions and attention where none were taken; or, if it’s low on necessary resources to keep the community running properly.

While you’re not handed a manual when elected, nor particularly expert at conflict resolution, by the sheer fact that you were elected, there is an expectation that you can run and are comfortable making decisions for all of the property owners, manage budgets, facilitate communications, conduct productive owner meetings, oversee committees and handle thorny issues that arise.

So there’s a good amount of grit that goes with the job, which of course, is a volunteer (and some might argue “thankless”) position. Residents need to be informed properly about the issues and opportunities for the community, and the board is the elected body responsible for managing the community on behalf of the owners.

If you’ve been elected to a board and would like to further educate yourself on your roles and responsibilities, and conducting them in the most professional manner, you should contact your community manager and schedule a time to go through the community’s plan, schedule of activities and maintenance. Learning all that you can is paramount to managing a successful community. You should review the governing documents and financials and ask as many questions as you need to understand the status of your community.

Board members can also download a Board Member Toolkit, available free online through the Community Association Institute(CAI). There are a number of downloadable documents for homeowner leaders. Board members can also join the CAI to unlock other areas for exploration, and to become more educated and engaged in managing a community successfully.

As in any circumstance where humans are involved, it’s always helpful to keep perspective and exercise calm judgement – personal preferences and biases should be put aside – and once the full board has voted on a decision, even if it’s one with which you don’t agree, “disagree and commit.” It’s important to be united with your fellow board members and produce the best results for your community. Your community manager is always available to assist and guide decisions, but in the end, the responsibility is up to you.

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