In 1974, Peter Drucker, a well-known management consultant and author of more than three dozen books said, “There is one thing most boards have in common; they do not function.”
While Drucker’s blunt assessment was aimed primarily at corporate leadership, his analysis is apropos when talking about condominium and homeowners association boards as well. While every board and every residential community is different, the best, most effective boards often share the same set of traits—and the same is true of the worst ones. That’s why it’s vital that boards have a solid plan and do things right, and avoid conflicts in their buildings. Because unless a board runs its community in a fair, functional, and solvent manner, things can go haywire—fast.
“One of the biggest ways to be successful is teamwork,” says Lea Marcou, community association manager for Associa Chicagoland. “I know a lot of times board members disagree, and it’s fine for them to disagree and share different opinions, but they need to do it respectfully. It doesn’t do anyone any good if they are yelling. It doesn’t look good to the homeowners who attend these meetings, and it doesn’t accomplish anything.”
Asa Sherwood, president of FirstService Residential Illinois, characterizes a successful, functional board as one that is professional, having timed agendas and a plan in place for every board and resident meeting.
“It starts with the mindset of having board members interested in running the association like a business,” he says. “If not, it’s hard for them to get going down the right path. Oftentimes, board meetings get sidetracked because there isn’t strong leadership, the agenda is not set correctly, and the board is fighting for three hours. That shouldn’t happen.”