What's the difference between a great Board and just an okay Board? Great Boards develop, maintain and value their credibility and integrity. As a group and individually they continually display the following traits:
Great Boards suffer no illusions. They know that if they receive three bids for a particular service and one of the three bids is substantially lower than the two, it is reasonable and logical to assume that there is something to question within that bid. Maybe the contractor read the RFP wrong. Or, maybe they simply low-balled the bid. Great Boards are seldom fooled by this tactic: They understand they can't have a Mercedes for the price of a Kia.
...And know that if they do accept the low bid, there is a cost to managing that low bid. Accepting the lowest of qualified bidders can be a legitimate strategy when the Board acknowledges there will be a cost to managing that low bid - be it in their own time, staff time or having to have another contractor come in and finish the job or clean up the mess.
Great Boards avoid the circular firing squad. What sets Great Boards apart is that they know there will be disagreements, they know they don't each think alike - yet, once the votes are cast they move forward together, speaking with one voice to the membership. This is crucial for any Board, but particularly those who have seriously disgruntled folks in their midst. Any chink in the armor of the Board will be exploited by those with agendas that are not within the current Board's policies, goals and objectives. Great Boards have each others' back.
Great Board members release personal agenda and move on for the betterment of the community. Many Board members get elected on a narrow and emotional platform: "Lower dues by 20%!" "Fire the management company!" ad nauseam. When the newly-elected member finds out the platform on which they ran is based upon misinformation, great Board members realize quickly things were not as they thought, and then move on to the truly pressing issues of the community.
And Great Boards bring new Board members with contrary agendas in to the process fast and furious to avoid the dreaded agenda-vacuum, immersing them in to the Board process ASAP. Why? Nothing fills that agenda-vacuum, focuses the new Board member's energy faster or gives them a look at what it's really like behind the curtain than be given a position of responsibility. It allows that member to save face while become a part of something productive, larger and positive.
Great Boards are proactive about information. They seek out information on all aspects of community administration and maintenance as it applies to them. Sometimes, it's information they don't want to hear, yet, Great Board members listen anyway, it's a part of their duty. Whether by internet search, industry publications, or attending workshops, forums and networking events with other Board members, Great Boards know they do their jobs best by being informed, and they strive to stay that way.
Great Boards communicate regularly and positively amongst themselves and with their residents. The importance of regular, upbeat, professional-looking newsletters, updated websites, e-blasts and other forms of communication is never lost on Great Boards. This communication creates a sense of openness and allows for the outflow of positive communication about the community. They also create Board credibility by fostering a positive attitude while still giving the membership needed information and reminders. People want to be a part of something successful, upbeat and positive, a community with this image is one which fosters volunteerism. And couldn't we all use more of that?
Great Boards have a sense of humor. Why? Great Boards know three things: 1) It's not IBM, it's an HOA; and 2) the smaller the stakes, the pettier the politics; and 3) it's not personal. Great Boards have a sense of humor because they maintain perspective, giving much of what they do, see and hear a very humorous aspect. They take their job seriously, but not themselves. They take problems seriously, but often times those problems are pretty comical and that humor is not lost on great Boards. As we all know in the industry: You can't make this stuff up.
Great Boards Value Integrity and Credibility above all else. Integrity and Credibility are what we all look for and respect in friends, family, school, church, work, business and what we want to see in Board members and in any Board as a whole. Boards that don't get mired in minutia, that are consistent in their decisions, assist new members in adjusting to their roles and create a polite atmosphere in which to volunteer. Boards that are serious, but don't take themselves or the situations too seriously demonstrate they are mature and responsible in their actions. These Board members are Credible. They have Integrity. And they are the best of the best. They are what make Great Boards.