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Community Associations: As Beloved as the IRS, Manager Says

11/17/1998  -  Alexandria, VA

The nation's 205,000 condominium, cooperative and homeowner associations are plagued by "leadership poverty," longtime association manager Brent Herrington, PCAM, told 1,000 attendees at the Community Associations Institute 45th National Conference in Arlington, Va., Oct. 29-31. With little sense of direction, vision or purpose, community associations have achieved the same place in homeowners' hearts as the Internal Revenue Service, Herrington said, and managers must take action to correct this.

Specific mistakes that Herrington finds in many community associations include heavy-handed rules enforcement, resident apathy, board members who serve to advance personal agendas, bureaucracy and astonishingly poor communication. In order to create a strong, thriving community, today's community association manager needs the business skills of a corporate executive and the heart of a social worker, providing leadership, inspiration and know-how to help volunteer boards create successful communities.

Herrington recommends infusing artful leadership into community management through:

  • Maintaining an authentic, ongoing dialogue with community stakeholders
  • Judging success from community residents' point of view
  • Nurturing a sense of shared responsibility for the future of the community
  • Dealing with problems and conflict on a case-by-case basis and worrying less about "bad precedent"
  • Building genuine resident support for community rules
  • Encouraging social and civic gatherings and celebrating holidays with exuberance
  • Supporting local businesses and schools

At a breakout session following Herrington's speech, Robert A. Felix, CMCA, PCAM, offered concrete ideas for building community spirit:

  • Establishing a volunteer interest group to interact with local government, non-profit foundations and community service agencies
  • Designing leadership retreats and mentoring programs to develop strategies for building communities
  • Measuring resident satisfaction through surveys
  • Using technology and education to improve board performance
  • Instituting mediation to resolve conflict
  • Encouraging networking among community association boards to exchange ideas

Community association manager Bill Overton, PCAM, concluded the conference with an inspirational speech, saying "now is the time for community association managers to positively and proactively redefine our industry by refocusing on truly serving our customer, the homeowner. These are sensitive areas we work in—people's homes and communities. People—not buildings, rules or money—need to be our top priority."

The Community Associations Institute is a nonprofit association created in 1973 to educate and represent the nation's 205,000 community associations—condominium associations, homeowner associations and cooperatives. CAI members include homeowners, associations and related professionals and service providers.

Phone: 703-970-9235