Traits of Good Board Members

Do you have what it takes to be a good board member? Chances are you do.

If you have a mix of some of the following traits and skills, consider running for a seat on the board. You would make a valuable addition.

Respect. If you can give others respect and expect it in return, you can help keep board discussions civil, productive and on point.  Boards work best with people who can lead by consensus, not by command.

Good listening. People want to be heard. Can you listen to board members and residents with sincere interest? You may have a few ideas of your own, but everyone benefits by sharing and discussing.

Thick skin. Sometimes, residents—even other board members—can be mean and insulting. Are you good at turning a conversation around and finding out what’s really bothering people?

Egos aside. If you can give others credit, the board will operate better as a team.

Agenda aside. Members who come to the board looking to help only themselves are a problem. A board is more productive when members don’t have a personal punch list. Are you able to look after the community, not just your own interests? Are you willing to compromise?

Skill. An association is a living, breathing (sometimes large) organization that has to be managed with a (sometimes large) budget. So having board members with accounting, organizational behavior and teambuilding backgrounds can help. Someone with a financial background, for example, might make for a good treasurer.

The ideal board comprises a mix of management styles, professional skills and temperaments. If you know people with some of these traits or relevant skills, ask them if they’d be interested in joining the board. Some people don’t think about running for a seat unless asked.

You don’t have to know everything when you join, but you should be familiar with the governing documents and the responsibilities of the job. Fellow board members and managers can help you with the transition and train you on board responsibilities, current work, projects and hot issues.

Leaders can come from different places and backgrounds. There’s no one mode that fits all. Share your knowledge and passion with your community.

Solve Neighbor Disputes with Mediation

Bruised by a dispute with your neighbor? The occasional conflict is a natural byproduct of living close to one another under certain rules and regulations for the community. It’s possible to get your disagreement resolved before it escalates and certainly before you end up in court. You should consider mediation—a process that can save you money and aggravation and lead to more peaceful community environment.

In mediation, a neutral third party meets with you and your neighbor, often in an informal setting, to keep everyone focused on solving the problem. Mediation works particularly well by managing expectations, and, generally, the dispute can be resolved within a day.

For example, let’s say you’re battling your upstairs neighbor about noise. She works until 2 a.m. and infuriates you by walking around her unit in the wee hours of the morning. Through mediation, each of you can talk, listen and learn about each other. She agrees to take off her shoes when she gets home; and you can call when there is a problem.

A mediators’ first task is to understand how and why the conflict escalated. He or she is trained to search through highly charged responses to understand the crux of the problem. Mediation is about compromise. Be willing to learn and hear. Be open-minded. Mediation tends to fail when people can’t get beyond their emotions.

If you go to court, one of you will win and one will lose. If you mediate your differences, both of you will find consensus-based, creative solutions to your problems. And that allows for more harmony in the community.

You can find a qualified mediator in your area by searching on “mediators” in your web browser or in the Yellow Pages.  You can also contact your property management company, as they should have a list of mediators available for consideration as part of the dispute-resolution requirements of most association governing documents.