By Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA / Published August 2020
You can see these three personalities in any community, whether you’re at a board meeting or an owners’ meeting or the pool. You might even see these three people at the Labor Day picnic.
Iby doesn’t usually go to any meetings but always shows up for potluck dinners and picnics. You’ll see her breaking in line and reaching over people for double helpings of fried chicken and cookies. She lacks table manners, so no one wants to sit with her. She seems so much like a child with very little impulse control and gets upset easily when she perceives a slight. Iby seems to notice all of the things that are wrong around the community, complains that the sprinklers turn on too early in the morning, doesn’t like the noise of her neighbors’ air conditioner, and thinks someone should skim the blind mosquitoes (aquatic midges) off the pool surface every hour; but when asked if she would like to volunteer for some of the tasks around the community, she always declines. She only seems interested in meeting her own basic needs, no one else’s. By the way, Iby wraps the extra chicken and a dozen cookies into a napkin and stuffs them into her purse to take home.
Geo often attends board meetings and occasionally volunteers to help around the community. Give him a task and he usually finishes, though it might take him longer because he won’t ask for help. He doesn’t always agree with the actions the board takes, but he waits for an appropriate time to speak to a board member or the manager outside of meetings. You’ll find him at the potluck dinner, too. He loves to eat, and by the time he gets there, he is starving. But he waits his turn, lets the ladies go first, and does not hoard all of the chicken. After he eats, Geo makes his rounds chatting with neighbors. While he would like to see maintenance prioritized differently, he is a realist and understands the association isn’t a bottomless pit of money. Overall, Geo is satisfied with the appearance of the community but has considered running for the board. Secretly, he would like to be in charge and make sure the manager is doing his job. And, he can’t wait for the next potluck dinner.
Surego moved into the community several years ago and felt a strong sense of duty to be involved in his community. Even though he works full-time and volunteers in town with several church and civic groups, he serves on his association board of directors. He seems to be the pensive, thoughtful one on the board who usually brings a different (good) perspective to the discussion. While he might be passionate about certain topics, you realize that he never actually gets angry. He is one of those board members who seems to have the interest of the community in mind and has no personal agenda. He is deeply satisfied when he sees everyone at the potluck dinners enjoying themselves. Before he sits down to eat, you’re likely to see Surego walking around with platters of food offering seconds to everyone. While he certainly enjoys eating, he believes the esprit de corps created during those community events is the most important thing that’s happening.
Eventually Geo does run for the board and gets elected. Now he is serving with Surego. It would not be a stretch to imagine their leadership and management styles will be different and might even conflict. (By the way, it never occurs to Iby that she could or should volunteer or take her turn serving on the board.)
Board members provide leadership for the community. The board of directors is responsible for the management of the community; that is, to protect the property and its value, maintain the common elements of the association, and enforce the restrictions and covenants in the governing documents. Even if they hire professional managers (CAMs), the management buck stops with the board.
Leadership and management are different. Leaders and managers have different perspectives and goals. With a Geo on the board now, the other board members are going to see just how much of a difference there is between leadership and management.
The goal of management is task oriented. It is systems led, sees the here and now, maintains the status quo, is process driven, sticks to past systems, resists change, plays not to lose, spends more time talking, sees people as they are, and is more of a transactional leader. This will likely be Geo’s style. While not “bad,” it may prove to be counterproductive.
Leadership is more future oriented, works with teams, sees people for who they may become, is future led and goal driven, plays to win, fosters creativity, encourages others to become better, spends more time listening, and is more of a transformational leader. This has been Surego’s demonstrated style.
At Geo’s first board meeting, he wants to know, “Just what does the CAM, Matthew, do all day? Is he needed full time?” He wants Matthew to keep a time sheet for a month and account for every hour of his workday. Geo also thinks a board member should meet with Matthew every morning (or at least once a week) to help him plan his day (or week).
Surego counters with the fact Matthew has been the manager for five years; has an employment agreement that outlines the scope of his responsibilities; thoroughly knows the property and what is needed on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis; and does not need to be micromanaged. The board has never had any issues with the way Matthew accomplishes the board’s goals. The buildings and grounds are well maintained, and we are under budget.
Geo wants to know who supervises the maintenance workers. He believes the board should appoint a personnel committee to supervise them to make sure they are putting in a full day of work. Geo saw Miss Judy flagging down one of the maintenance workers who was driving by her building in the association golf cart. He stopped, and it was during working hours. It looked like she gave him something—maybe Gatorade and cookies.
Surego explained that Matthew was the supervisor of the maintenance workers. Any issues or concerns related to their work should be directed to Matthew. If he is unable to correct and redirect a maintenance worker onto the proper path, Matthew will bring the issue to the board. There is no need for a personnel committee. By the way, Surego saw that same encounter with Miss Judy and noted it was 92 degrees that day with 100 percent humidity.
This is going to be an interesting year for the board as these two styles, one leadership focused, the other management focused, contend with each other. Hopefully, there are several other members on the board like Surego who recognize and understand the challenge. If not, poor Matthew.
Management sees training as an expense.
Leadership sees training as an investment.
– Betsy Barbieux
Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA
Florida CAM Schools
Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA, guides managers, board members, and service providers in handling daily operations of their communities while at the same time dealing with different communication styles, difficult personalities, and conflict. Effective communication and efficient management are her goals. Since 1999, Betsy has educated thousands of managers, directors, and service providers. She is your trainer for life! Betsy is the author of Boardmanship, a columnist in the Florida Community Association Journal, and a former member of the Regulatory Council for Community Association Managers. Subscribe to CAM MattersTM on YouTube. For more information, contact Betsy@FloridaCAMSchools.com, call (352) 326-8365, or visit www.FloridaCAMSchools.com.