Earlier this year, I wrote an article on how to be successful as a community. A portion of that piece dealt with installing the right kind of leadership. Over my years of working with, organizing, promoting, coaching, and assisting boards of directors in both community associations and various nonprofit organizations, I've developed a list of what I believe are some of the strongest characteristics that successful boards possess.
Each of these characteristics carries a much more robust explanation, but here are highlights of the best. Successful leaders will:
* View their role as one of servant leadership.
* Regard organizational power as a temporary stewardship.
* Understand their duty to preserve, maintain and enhance the value of corporate assets.
* Be time-efficient, conscientious and prepared for meetings.
* Strive for unity and harmony in the community.
* Understand the value of compromise.
* Honor final board decisions regardless of their vote.
* Put aside personal motives and honor their fiduciary duty.
* Know that politeness is more important than rightness.
* Listen to all comments and feedback.
* Seek resolution over conflict.
* Follow basic parliamentary procedures to enhance meeting effectiveness.
* Conduct business on the basis of what is best for the entire community.
* Be aware that their decisions affect people's homes.
* Engage in the process of building a community vision.
* Refrain from assuming that current reality represents all the community can be.
* Understand the value of soliciting community input and taking unique criteria into account.
* Understand their role to protect and enhance the community lifestyle.
* Recognize regularly and publicly volunteers and committee members for their efforts.
* Respect the work and output of task forces and committees.
* Prioritize reasonable living guidelines over strict rule enforcement.
* Act as process facilitators.
* Promote and demonstrate respect among community leadership.
* Reach out to, and collaborate with, other organizations.
* Emphasize the empowerment of others.
* Embrace staff leadership.
* Ask respectfully rather than demand.
* Establish an annual guidance program for management.
* Differentiate management tasks from board policy development.
* Establish and follow staff and board protocols.
* Study materials and ask questions of staff to be well informed.
* Offer developmental feedback to staff in private.
It's a lot to take in at once, no doubt. At the end of the day, the questions we pose to our clients include, "What characteristics are important for you to emulate? If you're having struggles, which ones will help your board improve?" For each community, the answer may be different. But, I find these principles to be good guidelines for creating reliable leadership, well-versed in the important details of running their community, and set up for success in the long run.