Board Member 101: HOA Leadership Roles and Duties
“What impact can I really have as a board member?”
“What are my HOA leadership roles and duties?”
“I feel like my voice isn’t being heard.”
“I don’t know if I have what it takes to be a strong leader in my association and bring about positive change.”
Effective leadership is not determined by one's position or rank, but by one's mindset and qualities as an individual capable of leading their community or building. As a board member, you have the potential to become a powerful and impactful leader, capable of instigating positive change within your community. By adopting the right mindset, engaging in relevant training, and prioritizing unity within the board, you can manifest the kind of leadership that drives your community to success.
The board president may be the public face of a nonprofit organization, but leadership and decision-making power truly lie within the collective effort of the entire board. Contrary to popular belief, demonstrating leadership is not limited to the president's role. In fact, true leadership comes from both innate qualities and learned skills that all board members can cultivate and practice.
Whether you aspire to be a board president or treasurer, honing your leadership abilities can have a significant impact on your community. To fully develop and enhance your leadership journey, begin by taking these four essential steps.
Step 1: Go Beyond Your Fiduciary Duties
Excellent leadership goes beyond the standard HOA leadership roles and duties of maintaining common areas, managing finances, and adhering to governing documents. Exceptional leaders are committed to advancing the association's mission, vision, and goals by fostering stronger relationships with residents and board members. This involves taking the time to understand them and their families through hosting non-business community events, such as barbeques and happy hours. You'd be surprised at how many people will open up in this relaxed setting. These opportunities also offer a chance for homeowners to see that board members are approachable and relatable, leading to enhanced trust and respect for the future of the community.
As you gain more experience in your board role, fostering relationships, reassessing your mission statement and vision, and actively contributing to your association's strategy remain essential. However, there's no need to undertake these responsibilities single-handedly. Collaborate with your community manager and management company to acquire valuable insights and valuable resources, enabling your community to thrive.
For instance, FirstService Residential provides multiple resources to boards, including educational content and access to tools like FirstService Residential Connect™, a robust and comprehensive resident communication tool and information portal. Connect provides instant access to your community’s information, documents and records, and helps improve project and vendor management, streamlines operations and increases resident and community security.
Step 2: Be a Bridge Builder
As a board member, your success hinges on your ability to put aside personal biases and facilitate board alignment for the benefit of your community. It's important to remember that your duty is to serve and prioritize the community, not individual agendas. Yet, it's natural to have strong opinions, which can lead to friction during meetings. Each board member should share their thoughts and concerns before voting on a final decision. Board alignment doesn't mean you have to agree on all aspects of the solution, but you must agree on the best and final solution for the community. It's important to reevaluate decisions once implemented to ensure they serve the community's best interests. By striving for alignment and putting the community first, you'll become a great leader for your board and community.
Furthermore, not everyone on the board will feel comfortable vocalizing their opinions or concerns, and that is okay. But as leaders, you should have a robust discussion plan in place before going into a meeting to ensure everyone is heard. To learn more about board alignment and decision making, read our article HOA 101: Master These 3 Genius Board Meeting Tips.
Step 3: Seek Additional Education and Training
As part of your HOA leadership roles and duties, it’s crucial to keep enhancing your knowledge and skills, regardless of your experience. Strong leaders and associations set themselves apart by continuously growing and learning. By equipping yourself with the latest education, best practices, and training tools, such as growth programs, informative articles, roundtables, and events to share ideas, you’ll be better positioned to make informed decisions for your community or high-rise building. Your association management company should provide you with ample resources to facilitate your leadership journey, including ongoing board training programs and helpful tools to boost your productivity.
FirstService Residential is committed to educating community managers and board members across every market with our localized (and free) resource libraries. You can find education resources on each market’s resource library, such as guides, articles, and videos on pressing HOA topics. Additionally, we also host various in-person and virtual events for board members to meet and network with industry professionals to discuss the current status of their association or answer any questions they may have.
Step 4: Don’t Shy Away From Evaluations and Potential Growth Opportunities
As a board member, it is crucial to constantly seek growth opportunities and improve upon your strengths to become an effective leader. One way to achieve this is by conducting board evaluations that track progress and identify areas for improvement. By doing so, you ensure the best interests of your community are being met.
According to BoardSource, a leader in nonprofit board leadership research, “Performance assessments often raise concern and even fear. Many people associate them with judgment, unfairness, and the need to defend one’s actions. However, without appropriate monitoring and feedback, it is difficult to evaluate whether you, your board and your organization are meeting goals and making progress.”1
Constructive criticism can be challenging for all parties to receive. However, implementing effective evaluations can bring significant benefits to your nonprofit association. Through board, community manager, and organizational self-assessments, your board, community management staff, and residents can experience improvements in leadership, role clarity, decision-making, teamwork, and board communications. To further gauge your leadership effectiveness, consider conducting a resident survey. Note: Be prepared for potentially negative comments in your results and try not to take them personally.
FirstService Residential often coordinates DiSC® Training for the boards of the communities it serves to help strengthen board members’ communication and leadership skills. DiSC® is a personal assessment tool that will help deepen your understanding of yourself and others to help build stronger, more effective working relationships. Board members can share their results in a team setting to begin the evaluation process.
Becoming an exceptional leader requires time and effort, but anyone has the potential to do it. By encouraging your fellow board members to develop their leadership skills and step out of their comfort zone, you can help strengthen your association and community as a whole. Empower your board to pursue training and education opportunities to facilitate alignment and make well-informed decisions, ultimately ensuring a positive reputation, exceptional resident experience, and increased property values.
1. “What to Evaluate”. 2020. Boardsource.org