Board Owner Do’s and Don’ts What Makes a Board Successful

It only takes a few minutes of a web search to uncover the traits that make a successful person or business owner. For example, Entrepreneur magazine’s Steven Key wrote the article, “5 Qualities of Successful Persons,” which included such traits as open-mindedness, unwavering passion, and a forward-looking approach. But what makes a board of trustees, which is made up of individuals volunteering their time, a successful one?

Be Collaborative

Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

The definition of collaboration is the act of working with another or others on a joint project. “Members of an effective and successful board are all on the same page,” says Dale Young, director of portfolio management at FirstService Residential, one of the largest property management companies in the country. “They are seeking improvements and infrastructure that is in the best interest of the community. In a successful board there are no personal agendas. The board should be serving in the best interest of the association as a whole.”

Listen Well

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”—Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change.

When you ask attorneys who might make the best board member, a lot of answers are not surprising: former accountants, business executives, engineers. But, Scott Sandler, an attorney at the law firm of Perlstein, Sandler & McCracken, LLC, in Farmington, Connecticut, had a new one: kindergarten teachers. “They understand how to deal with chaos, people with short fuses, differing personalities,” says Sandler. “They know who needs their hand held, who needs to be provided with challenges of how to motivate people. In one sense, teachers have proven to be decent board members.” Mostly, Sandler says, it’s more about set skill sets that come in handy for board members. “Folks that are just used to having to move a lot of components into one direction. Like an air traffic controller, where you have all these moving parts, and it’s your job to see a pattern and move them all so they’re going in the right direction.”

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