October 14, 2023 - Blog Post
Qualities and Attributes of an Effective Board Director
In a past blog we talked about the responsibilities of the Board but in this blog let's take a look at what makes an effective director. An effective Condominium Board Director plays a crucial role in the effective governance and management of a condominium community. Note that CCI Huronia is putting on a Lunch and Learn Webinar on “What is an effective Director” the on the 20th of Oct at 1 pm our time that as members of CCI NS we can attend (see here) but you do need to register. It should be a good discussion. I plan on attending but in the meantime, whether you go or not, here are some qualities and attributes to think about that make for an effective Director:
- Commitment: Directors should be committed to the responsibilities of the position, attend meetings regularly, and actively participate in board discussions and decisions. This can be a big challenge especially getting everyone together at the same time for a Board meeting. However we have more flexibility and tools to make the job easier such as zoom or Microsoft teams and doodle for scheduling meeting time preferences (see here)
- Communication Skills: Effective communication is vital. Directors should be able to listen to the concerns and needs of the condo owners and communicate the board's decisions and actions clearly and transparently. In future blogs we will discuss some tips and ways to improve your communication skills.
- Financial Acumen: Understanding financial matters is essential. Directors should be able to review and interpret financial statements, budgets, and funding requirements for the condominium's maintenance and improvement. We do have our own webinar on the 23rd of this month talking about financial matters. Make sure to register (see here).
- Conflict Resolution: Condominiums often face disputes and conflicts. Directors should be skilled in conflict resolution and negotiation to maintain a harmonious living environment. We gave some ideas on this in our blog on dealing with interpersonal conflict (see here).
- Legal Knowledge: A basic understanding of condominium laws and bylaws is crucial. Directors should be aware of the legal framework governing their community and ensure that the board's actions are compliant with these regulations. How often do you review your documents? We have had a recent update to our Condo Act. Do you know what has changed and how it might affect your governance? There is an article from our last newsletter describing those changes (see here). It is useful to occasionally dig out your ruling documents and review them. Are they up to date? Do they need changing? You may even want to have a lawyer versed in condominium law review them. We will be having another lawyer’s night in Feb 24 focusing on privacy and other issues. We are also planning a CM 100 for the new year that goes into detail on governing documents as well as other concepts. Stay tuned for more information.
- Ethical and Honest: Directors must act with integrity, putting the interests of the condo community above personal gain. Transparency and honesty are essential. CCI National has published a Code of Ethics that you can download and use (see here). Note that if you modify it you need to state so in the document. Instructions are given. It is a good idea to have something in writing that can lay out the expectations of anyone serving or considering becoming a Board Director. It can also be used as a tool to gain cooperation when you have disagreements among Board members. Is the group acting in accordance with the code of conduct?
- Problem-Solving Skills: Condo directors often deal with various issues, from maintenance problems to disputes. They should be effective problem solvers, finding practical and fair solutions. There are generic problem-solving processes and guidance that anyone can use that can help the Board reach good results. We will be presenting some of those tools in upcoming blogs.
- Time Management: Serving on a board can be time-consuming. Directors should manage their time effectively to balance their responsibilities with their personal and professional lives. This is probably one of the biggest challenges all of us have today. We are waylaid with responsibilities and distractions. Stay tuned to future blogs on effective time management strategies but if you find yourself struggling with managing time I highly recommend you read the book Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman (see here). It will make you think differently on what you do with your four thousand weeks (average lifespan).
- Leadership: Directors need to provide leadership and direction for the community. They should work towards the betterment of the condo, its facilities, and the overall living experience.
- Team Player: Board directors should be able to work well with other board members and with condo residents. They should be open to collaboration and input from others. In future blogs we’ll talk about Tuckman’s stages of team development. A good model to understand why your group might be acting in a way that isn’t accomplishing a lot and how to get to a stage where your group is effectively performing.
- Knowledge of the Community: Directors should have a good understanding of the condominium community's needs, priorities, and long-term goals. Are yours defined? How do you get feedback now? Do you have good feedback loops? What strategies do you have in place to identify those needs and priorities. Do you have a strategic plan other than your reserve fund study?
- Adaptability: The needs of a condominium community can change over time. Directors should be adaptable and open to new ideas and approaches to address evolving challenges. The technological changes, climate effects and cost of living is challenging all of us and forcing many of us to rethink about different possibilities or directions in managing our condos.
- Financial Responsibility: Directors need to act prudently with the condo's finances and make decisions that are in the best financial interest of the community. You may not have all the skills necessary but don’t be afraid to ask for professional advice. Who do you have access to now?
- Attention to Detail: Attention to detail is important for reviewing contracts, budgets, and other important documents to ensure accuracy and adherence to rules and regulations. We all have strengths and it is useful if on a Board you have a diversity of strengths. Not everyone is good at paying attention to detail but with the whole team backing each other up and using each others’ strengths you have a much better opportunity for successfully carrying out your responsibilities. I will have a blog on strengths and how to use them in the near future.
- Civic Responsibility: A sense of civic responsibility and a desire to contribute positively to the community are important qualities for a condo board director. Especially think of your neighbourhood and how your operation may be affecting them. Are you a good neighbour? What would your neighbours say?
- Willingness to Learn: The laws and regulations governing condominiums may change, and the needs of the community may evolve. Directors should be open to continuous learning and professional development. Do you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset? Your answer will affect how well you can adapt. See here for a good PowerPoint presentation from the University of South Africa on Growth versus Fixed Mindset. When we stop being a student we stop learning; there is always more to learn. Continuous learning and developing a growth mindset is one of the reasons CCI NS exists. So take advantage of it.
In addition to these qualities, it's important for Condominium Board Directors to work together as a cohesive team to make informed decisions that benefit the entire community . Good governance and management are critical to maintaining a harmonious and well-maintained condominium environment. How is your community doing?
"If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself" Henry Ford
CCI Nova Scotia
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