“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” This is the opening line to J. R. R. Tolkien’s classic tale, The Hobbit: There and Back Again.
It may seem that there aren’t many things a board member can learn from a hobbit. But, think about it: Bilbo Baggins, the story’s hero, is an everyday hobbit with no intention of being great; yet along the way, his simple, calm approach to unimaginable situations and his thoughtful demeanor determine the difference between success and failure for Middle Earth.
Our Community Association Managers are often the best resource for pinpointing these traits, since they’ve seen some of the very best and worst of board member attributes. So, what is best? What defines a future Bilbo Baggins?
Top 8 Traits of Successful Board Members
The best community association board members:
- Honor commitments and possess individual accountability: You know that others rely on your word and that is your commitment to them
- Understand legal and fiduciary duties and responsibilities: You take the time to read the governing documents and the contracts to understand the responsibilities of a board member
- Show respect: To all people, in all situations, at all times
- Are willing to actively serve: You do more than show up, and offer help in other areas when you’re available
- Are prepared for meetings: You always show up prepared, on time, and you’re actively present and engaged
- Have passion for their community: You’re motivated to make your community the best it can be and you motivate others to do the same
- Exhibit leadership: You know your strengths and use them for the good of your community
- Are willing to learn and continue education: Being a board member is a volunteer position. The best board members seek out additional education resources, attend free seminars and classes, and they’re educated about their community and the way boards function
In my experience, the most successful board members have at least half of the attributes listed above. If you have areas that need to be cultivated, a community manager, committee or other board members can easily work with you to foster the right environment to create a productive and desirable community.
The best board members are very much in the same category as Bilbo – reluctant, yet passionate, rational and reasonable, strong-willed, but still open to others’ ideas after thorough consideration. There is always a leader buried within, a hero that needs the best of reasons to become something better – and in the case of community associations, the reason is our fellow man. It is our fellow neighbors, our community, our “shire folk” as it were, that make us think outside of our own needs and rise to the occasion of being a great board member.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Melissa Merritt-Darden is the Vice President of Associa Carolinas.