Tiara Gehl | 06-26-2013
You can find the basic duties of the Board President described in the Bylaws of your community. Like many other provisions in your governing documents, this description is often lengthy, full of legalese, and maybe just a bit ambiguous.
Perhaps this is why there’s a general misunderstanding of the role. A Board President doesn’t make all the decisions – they’re tasked with facilitating the rest of the Board members’ discussion to ensure it stays productive, and through that discussion, that good decisions are made.
This leadership becomes especially important in a meeting, where quieter Board members and homeowners join together with the members that might be more experienced and more outspoken.
The Board President needs to endeavor to ensure all voices are heard equally at the table. Even the unpopular opinions have something relevant to offer to help make the right decisions for the community.
The president should also apply this balance to members of the audience. Homeowner’s Open Forum, by law held in the beginning and the end of a meeting, is the time allotted to the Homeowners in your community to share their thoughts. Don’t allow the loudest voices, or even the majority voices, to drown out the opinions and concerns of other members.
Parliamentary procedure (put simply, the body of rules that govern the running of meetings, the standard being “Robert’s Rules of Order”) can feel cumbersome and overly formal for a Board meeting, especially with smaller Boards and HOAs.
Regardless of the size of your community, if you are watching meetings get out of hand – homeowners badgering other homeowners, board members or management, members speaking out of turn or talking over other members – adopting and following a set of parliamentary procedures might be the tool needed to help the president effectively preside over the meetings where controversial topics are being introduced and discussed.
It takes time and practice to develop the presidential role that will best suit your community and meeting style. Some HOAs require extra formalities and rules to run effectively, and some resent the presence of a clock and the pound of the gavel limiting a homeowner’s time to participate.
Rely on your community manager and fellow Board members for support while this is being developed, and never be afraid to communicate with the audience about what you’re trying to achieve. It’s also important to remember that not every single meeting has to be run perfectly.
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