You may want to jump into the role of a community leader right away, but the pathway to leadership can be traced in a series of steps. Make sure that you are taking on the following roles first:
1. Volunteer The first step in your journey to leadership is one that you’ve probably already taken: becoming a volunteer and getting elected to your association board. You have the right to be in this position, and members will align with you because of that position. To take it to the next level, it’s important that you first overcome any personal conflicts or hidden agendas.
2. Volunteer Leader To succeed as a volunteer leader, you need to lead in an approachable, relatable way. Members will align with you because they want to, as a result of that relatability you manifest. Of course, the evolution to community leader doesn’t end here. To move on to the next step, you’ll need to prioritize leadership training to become a more effective, results-driven leader.
3. Leader At the end of the day, a leader will ultimately achieve results. Therefore, to achieve this step in the path to community leadership, you’ll need to partner with your community association management company to accomplish tasks. After you achieve results, other members will naturally align with you because of all the contributions you’ve made to the community.
4. Community Leader If you’ve set out on this path, your end goal is to become a community leader. If you’ve reached this position, members will align with you because of who you are fundamentally, not because of what you’ve done or because you hold a certain title. That’s why becoming a community leader requires more than just a desire to lead. You’ll need to put the best interest of your community first and take on your role with a sense of responsibility and humility.
Once you’ve set out on the path to community leadership, it’s important to learn as much as you can about leadership so you can succeed in your role. All leadership training is relevant for association leaders, so you should begin by reading (or rereading) some helpful books on emotional intelligence and leadership. Maurice Talley, corporate trainer at FirstService Residential, recommends The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves and StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. The best HOA property management companies will help guide you to other helpful resources and tools, including in-house training and courses offered by the Community Associations Institute (CAI), such as its Board Leadership Development Workshop. While all leadership training is relevant, understanding how it specifically relates to HOAs is vital.
Great leaders have a deeper understanding of their community, residents and other board members. This step involves building relationships and listening to the desires and needs of both your fellow board and residents. Of course, having this kind of relationship with your community requires an HOA management company that will do the heavy lifting for you. The best management companies will take care of day-to-day operations (like managing vendor relationships, enforcing policy and ensuring timely financials), so that you can devote your time to setting policy and listening to the community at large. This will allow you to make effective changes and will position you and your association for success.