Eight roles you'll master as HOA president
Serving as a homeowner association (HOA) board president is an honor, a privilege, and an experience that many across North America take great satisfaction in. But before you make the leap from resident to board member, it’s essential to understand exactly the duties of an HOA president.
For starters, it’s vital that you understand the scope of work for the position, as an ineffective president can hamstring a community’s growth for years to come. To help you make the most of this unique opportunity, let’s look at the essential roles an HOA president must take on to succeed.
ParliamentarianAs the board president in your community, you are a key decision-maker for the community. Whether that be enforcing policies, approving invoices, or approving capital improvement projects, you will need a thorough understanding of your governing documents and state and local laws in order to run your community efficiently.
“An association’s governing documents guide how the association is run,” said Timothy Snowden, vice president at FirstService Residential. “It’s the board president’s job to understand the governing documents and processes to run the board successfully.”
Volunteer boosterAs HOA president, you’re a big part of making people want to volunteer on the board and its committees. Your energy, leadership, and vision can be instrumental in galvanizing support for your board’s objectives and identifying people who will want to run for the board in the future to help meet your community’s needs.
Julie Magaldi is the general manager at the Sovereign Condominium in Atlanta and one of FirstService Residential’s luxury lifestyle experts. When asked about how a property management company can help develop potential leaders, she shared insights from her 20 years of community management experience:
“People who have natural leadership skills already receive recognition in their communities and are usually the people who are asked to ‘please run. Please help us,’” Magaldi said. “When you’re a high-level executive, you have a skill set that doesn’t always translate into running a community full of your friends and neighbors. Experienced management staff can help you tap into the skills you already have and better manage the community.”
LiaisonWhen you work with a property management company, you’ll be the essential link between the organization and your association. This means you’ll need an in-depth understanding of what your property manager is focused on, especially regarding the full scope of their responsibilities and how their goals align with the community’s vision.
Meeting facilitatorIf you’ve ever been in a bad meeting, you know how dull, inefficient, and uninspiring it can be. As HOA president, you’ll be tasked with ensuring your meetings are productive and efficient – all while allowing everyone to speak their minds, too. It’s a delicate balance but an art you can master.
“I have seen, over the years, powerful presidents from the corporate world sometimes have trouble with the warmer and fuzzier role of a board president, like collaborating and facilitating,” Magaldi explained. “They’re used to the executive environment by day where high-level decisions can be made unilaterally – but on an association board, decisions must be made for the community members at large and with a consensus.”
LeaderDuring your service, you will find yourself in a position where you need to set aside your role as a friend or neighbor and focus on what is right for the community and what is required of you as outlined in your association’s governing documents. This can feel unpleasant at times, but, if you explain your position to your friends and neighbors, they’ll most likely understand it is done for the good of the community.
“This is one of the toughest roles for most board presidents,” explained Keena Wood, who has been a community association manager for almost seven years. “But generally, good leaders can separate the personal from the business.”
When, as a president, you are in a position that requires you to set aside your role as a friend or neighbor, it’s a good idea to rely on the community’s vision, mission, and governing documents to explain that position. “Every action taken by the board needs to fit that vision,” Wood said. “Take a step back and ask, ‘is this leading toward our vision and following our mission? Is this best for the community as a whole?’ These are good questions to ask during budget season. Sometimes, boards have to put personal feelings aside and raise assessment fees for the good of the community.”
Good board presidents can explain that clearly, in the context of the community’s vision, getting buy-in from everyone along the way.
CollaboratorRemember, this isn’t a dictatorship. And even though it may seem well-intentioned and efficient, unilateral action is rarely the best option for the community. Remember to seek board input and the proper approvals every step of the way to ensure the longevity and strength of your community.
StudentNo president, whether of a company, a country, or a community, comes into the job knowing everything about how to do the job. Good leaders have the humility to recognize that and take steps to absorb all the information they can.
“A good student knows when to ask questions,” Wood said. “And there are no dumb questions. We all want the answers for everything, and there’s no way we can. That’s okay because we have many experts we can employ who have the answers.”
Peer“First of all, the president is a peer to the rest of the board,” said Snowden. “They need to recognize that they are one vote and respect the opinion of other board members. They have an important role on the board but are not above their peers. They are in the office to facilitate the needs of the community and are a member of the community as well.”
As HOA president, these are just a few of the many roles you will take on to help you and your neighbors achieve your community’s shared vision. To see how a professional management company like FirstService Residential can support you in your role as HOA president, contact us.