What Makes a Board Successful?

Published on: September 9, 2001

Being a board member is, in the best of situations, a difficult and demanding job. A common complaint is that every owner wants, wants, wants, but no one but the board is willing to do. Often board members respond to this constant demand upon their time, energy and patience by focusing on what they believe to be appropriate, ignoring the concerns, opinions or desires of the owners. Let me hasten to note at their juncture that most what I am about to address are the exceptions, and not the rule. The vast majority of boards are sensitive to the wishes of their constituencies. There are, unfortunately, a small number of boards who, for various reasons, assume an authorization posture. It is such boards who create the bad press which the media extols.

The tendency, sadly, is all to often assumed that no one will care, or for the Board to be impatient to move forward with a project. These impulses must be resisted. Boards who provide the owners an opportunity to provide input more often than not avoid the we/they schism.

This does not mean that the vocal minority should control. This is another of the evils to be avoided. The board must insure that it is acting for the benefit of, dare I use the phrase, the “silent majority”.

This does also not mean that decisions on which insurance policy to select, or which lawn care company to hire warrant unit owner involvement. Rather, it is the issues of governance for which unit owner input should be sought, not day to day operation of the community.

Boards, must govern from a base of support by their owners and not succumb to the temptation to lord over them. No one responds to being told, “I know better”. Even if its true. Issues of moment to the community should, to the extent feasible, involve community input. For instance, if a community wishes to become dog free, that should be the sense of the community and not merely the desire of the board. Issues involving the quality and nature of a community should come from the community. Enforcement then becomes relatively simple, as the board has the unit owners support. Enforcing unpopular rules or restrictions, on the other hand, is often impossible, as no one will come forward to support the board.

Obtaining a sense of the community can be time consuming. In the end, the result is worth the delay.