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Success through servant leadership

Every developer wants to design a great community, build it to that design with some flexibility, meet all the statutory requirements, sell to people who love living there, make a profit, and move on to the next project. So, how can the developer ensure that those to follow in the leadership of the community will work to enrich the community and uphold their fiduciary duty to maintain and enhance the common areas? The answer lies in finding responsible and trustworthy board members.

Serving on a community association board of directors (typically a non-profit organization) attracts many different kinds of people. The people that we should really concentrate on attracting to community leadership are those that are servant leaders. One essential aspect of a successful community is a resident-filled board of servant leaders. So how do we find them?

Servant leaders have some unique characteristics that developers should look for, and instead of telling you what to avoid, let me share with you some basic things to keep your eyes open for. Characteristics of servant leaders in community associations include:

• People who are often reluctant to serve. Generally these are the people that are engaged, but will serve only if asked.

• People that have no personal agenda, other than to do what is right for the community. They are thoughtful, ask questions in a meaningful way, are willing to help regardless of the cause, and are respectful.

• People that are thoughtful about community issues. Since each association is designed around a lifestyle that people buy into, servant leaders understand this and will work to preserve it.

• People that have reasonable expectations of the developer, the board, management and the community. They will work toward reasonable rules through a process, based on the premise that compromise is essential for peaceful living.

• People that understand the power of the authority in their role and use it to wisely guide those around them. It is out of respect for others that these people serve, and not to fulfill their own egos.

• People that have no personal expectations. They are willing to listen to those around them and then act on what is best for the entire community.

Robert K. Greenleaf, a pioneer in the concept of servant leadership, described this person as follows: "In order to be a servant leader, one needs the following qualities: listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight, stewardship, growth and building community, Acquiring these qualities tend to give a person authority versus power."

At N.N. Jaeschke, we've been helping to develop and manage successful communities for more than 40 years. If your development needs a helping hand in creating a plan for successful servant leadership, I invite you to give us a call.

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Written by Robert A. Felix, president and CEO of N.N Jaeschke Inc.

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