Ready to Become Board President? Practice R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

April 10, 2018 Marisa Highsmith

Being a board member has its challenges and rewards, but if you’re ready to take your community to the next level, being the board president might be the right role for you. Before you put your name on the ballot though, it’s worth your time to consider the personal attributes the role requires before taking it on. While many board members, managers and even owners have their own thoughts about what makes a great board president, there are a few common characteristics that can be easily remembered by following the acronym, R.E.S.P.E.C.T. 

If you think that you’re ready to become your HOA’s board president, ask yourself if you can be:

R: Responsive. Being responsive is an essential component of being appointed president of your HOA. Many matters are time-sensitive and most often, you are the point of contact between the board and your service providers. This includes your management company if you have elected to utilize one. Timely responses are key to getting things done!

E. Empathetic. The boardroom of an HOA is a potpourri of ideas. More often, these ideas are presented by folks who may not have a full understanding of what an HOA does. Being empathetic towards people who think differently than you do will serve you, and them, well. It leads to better understanding of the other person’s point of view for both the board and the layperson, creates a willingness to educate for the board and a willingness to receive education for the people presenting ideas. You will surely shine with this tool in your tool  belt!

S. Student. A student mindset may be an odd character trait you wouldn’t think matters for a board president, but in this role, it is so very important. You will have to study legal documents to learn about your HOA. Laws change and you will need to be open to learning about these changes and how they affect your community and the way you govern it. There is always something to learn, and being a lifelong student opens you up to becoming the best president for your HOA.   

P. Presider. A board meeting is where the business of your community is conducted and the to-do list is created. Presiding over the direction of the meetings is no small task.  As the board president, you will be tasked with the role of time keeper and organizer as well as empathetic listener. You will call for a vote when needed and keep things orderly and on task. This can be challenging when emotions are involved in the decision at hand.

E: Enthusiastic. Enthusiasm is necessary to move the goals of the HOA forward. If you are an enthusiastic president, the board and community will follow suit. Enthusiasm is the grease to the wheel of getting things done.  

C. Communicator. The president is called to communicate clearly to the board, owners, management, and service providers of your HOA – but communication does not stop there.  As the board president you may be called upon to be the spokesperson for your community. This may be in the form of responding to a political movement that will affect your HOA or perhaps a change in the HOA you need to voice to the owners you serve. Being comfortable as the representative for the board in speaking on behalf of your HOA is a valuable skill. 

T. Task Minder. The to-do list will grow quickly for your HOA. As president you will be charged with the duty of task minder. While the board may delegate amongst itself, committees, management, and service providers, as president you will be the keeper of the task list.  

While the above skills are essential in becoming a great board president one skill remains most important. You must practice R.E.S.P.E.C.T. for your fellow board members, the community you serve and the people who serve your community. Practicing R.E.S.P.E.C.T. and the skills listed above will lead to a job well done!

About the Author

Marisa Highsmith

Marisa Highsmith is a business development manager for Associa HRW. She is responsible for creating and building client relationships, proposal writing, contract negotiations and public relations. She has also served as a community manager for HRW, which helped her develop a strong background in apartment and homeowners’ association management as well as customer service. Marisa has 15 years experience in the community association management industry. She attended both Cape Fear Community College and East Carolina University where she majored in Child Development and Family Relations. Marisa also serves on the board of the Lower Cape Fear YWCA.

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