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Board-Leader-101-article-thumbnail.jpg“What are my HOA board member responsibilities?”

“What impact can I really have as a board member?”

“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.”

True leadership is not simply determined by title or status, but rather by possessing the necessary mindset and traits to guide a community or high-rise building towards success. As a board member, you have the potential to be an influential leader, capable of fostering positive change within your community. Achieving this comes down to adopting the right mindset, gaining appropriate training, and prioritizing a unified approach among the board.

Nonprofit organizations often assume that only the board president is capable of leading. But in reality, all members of the board hold the power of leadership and decision-making. Leadership is a combination of innate abilities and learned skills that can be improved with practice. It's crucial to recognize the collective leadership potential of your board.

Achieving your goals as a board president or treasurer requires exceptional leadership skills. But where do you start? These four essential steps will kickstart your journey towards becoming a powerful and influential leader in your community. Unlock your potential and make a meaningful impact with these actionable and practical tips. 

Step 1: Go Beyond Your Fiduciary Duties

A good leader will act in the best interest of their community by maintaining common areas, managing financial responsibilities, and complying with governing documents. However, an exceptional leader will go beyond their normal HOA board member responsibilities and fiduciary duties to help expand the association’s mission, vision, and goals through building stronger relationships with your residents and fellow board members. Build trust and respect with homeowners by hosting and attending non-business events like community gatherings, barbeques, and happy hours. These events will allow you to get to know your residents and their families on a personal level. By demonstrating that board members are approachable and relatable, you can cultivate stronger community relationships and foster a sense of connection. You might be surprised how much people open up in a relaxed environment free from business. Use this opportunity to build a foundation of trust and respect that will benefit your HOA in the future.

As a board member, it's crucial to nurture relationships, reassess your organization's mission and vision, and actively contribute to its growth. However, this is not a solo undertaking. Your community manager and management company are valuable allies who can provide you with valuable insights, resources, and expertise that can enhance your community's well-being. Collaborate with them to gain a deeper understanding and access crucial resources that will benefit your community. 

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 leadership potential is determined by your ability to overcome personal biases and foster alignment within the board. The primary lesson of board membership is prioritizing the well-being and interests of the community over personal agendas. While this may be challenging, it is crucial to navigate any heated discussions or tensions that may arise during board meetings. Ultimately, it is essential for every board member to share their opinions and concerns before making a final decision. Remember: Board alignment does not mean you all have to agree with one solution, but you must agree on the best and final solution for the community. Once a decision has been implemented, the board can reevaluate it to see if it is good for the community, if necessary. 

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 a board member, constantly improving your knowledge and skills is essential for effective leadership and a key part of your HOA board member responsibilities. Whether you're a new addition to the board or a seasoned member, staying up to date with the latest education, best practices, and training tools is what sets strong leaders and associations apart. With access to growth programs, informative articles, roundtables, and events to share ideas, you'll be better equipped to make informed decisions for your community or high-rise building. To support your leadership journey, your association management company should provide ongoing training programs and productivity tools. Keep growing and developing your capabilities to ensure you're providing the best leadership possible.

FirstService Residential is committed to educating community managers and board members across every market with our localized (and free) resource libraries. You can find educational 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 leader, finding growth opportunities and building on strengths is crucial. As a board member, conducting board evaluations is imperative to track progress and identify areas for improvement. By prioritizing these evaluations, you are looking out for the best interests of your community.

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

The truth is that everyone struggles with constructive criticism. But when evaluations are done properly, your board, community management staff and residents can gain leadership improvements, further clarity of roles and responsibilities, better decision-making and enhanced teamwork and board communications. The three most common performance evaluations for nonprofit associations are board self-assessment, community manager assessment, and organizational assessment. Additionally, conducting a resident survey regarding your board’s performance is also a good option to gauge the effectiveness of your leadership. 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.  

Closing Thoughts

Anyone can be a leader, but it takes time and practice to mold an exceptional leader that can push changes in your community for the better. Since not every board member prefers to be in the limelight, encourage fellow board members to step out of their comfort zone, pursue training and education opportunities and strengthen their leadership skills. As a result, your board will be equipped to facilitate alignment and make great decisions, with the goal of strengthening your association’s reputation, resident experience and property values.


1. “What to Evaluate”. 2020.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
Monday June 05, 2023