Qualified And Ready to Serve

Qualified And Ready to Serve

By Betsy Barbieux, CAM, CFCAM, CMCA / Published February 2022

Photo by iStockphoto.com/anyaberkut

Election time of the year finds many communities searching for board member candidates. While some community associations experience fierce competition for open board seats, others are hoping for enough candidates to at least make up a quorum of the board.

     Whether board members are elected in a competitive election or existing board members roll over into the next year due to apathy, every board member who is elected or appointed must certify. Florida law for condominium, cooperative, and homeowners associations requires the following:

  • Each newly elected board member shall sign a statement saying you have read all your association’s documents and will faithfully discharge your fiduciary duties; or
  • Each newly elected board member shall attend a division-approved course and submit a certificate of completion.
  • Once elected or appointed, directors only have 90 days to comply with the statute.

     Board members will ask, “Why should I spend time and possibly money to attend a board educational course when I can just sign a piece of paper?”

     Here are three good reasons to take the Florida Board Certification Course:

  • You haven’t really read or understood all your association’s documents, so signing that certification is not a true statement.
  • You don’t really understand that “fiduciary responsibility” means you are held to a higher standard than most other types of board members, and you could be personally liable for decisions you make as a board member.
  • You don’t know your Directors’ and Officers’ Insurance (D & O) only covers you if you act within your fiduciary duty. The coverage does not pay if you do wrong on purpose.

     Whether you have served on the board of directors for a year or a decade, there is always something new to learn. After all, the Florida Statutes and Florida Administrative Code change almost every year! The Florida Board Education Course is a good way to keep up with those changes. 

     In addition to a desire to learn, board members should keep in mind the “mission statement” of their community: fulfill the mandates of the governing documents and Florida statutes, protect the property and its value, maintain the common elements/areas, and enforce the restrictions on the owners’ use right as defined in those governing documents. Therefore, yours is a business organization, not a social one.

     One community association manager identified ten characteristics that make a good board member. They are as follows:

     Consistent: Board members need to be consistent in enforcing regulations within the community. When owners see that each person is treated equally, regardless of their relationship to you, they are more likely to respect your authority.

     Fair: Board members need to be able to set aside personal relationships and biases. They need to make objective decisions and set an example for the community with their actions.

     Conscientious: Board members should be driven by a keen sense of integrity across all situations. They need to abide by the laws that they enforce, even when no one’s watching.

     Detail-oriented: Board members need to understand every component of the documents that their community is founded on before they begin to enforce a single policy. It is not easy digging into the details of your governing documents, but it is a commitment that each board member needs to make.

     Cooperative: Board members should be motivated by a desire to seek consensus. They must be able to listen to all sides of an issue and work with people from varied backgrounds toward the common goal of improving their community.

     Transparent: When board members readily share information with each other and the community, respect increases exponentially. Obviously, there are situations when confidentiality is key, but boards should make decisions at open board meetings.

     Adaptable: Board members cannot be resistant to change. If there is a better way to do something, they need to be open to changing their strategy for the good of the community.

     Thick-skinned: Board members cannot take things personally. Disagreements are inevitable, and a board cannot afford to have a fellow member who is vindictive, biased, or petty.

     Able to ask for help: Board members cannot let their pride prevent them from bringing in an expert when necessary. They need the humility to admit that they do not always have the answers and turn to an expert for advice when necessary.

     Able to delegate: When things get busy, board members need to be comfortable relinquishing control over projects, trusting their mana-ger and others who can carry those projects through to completion.

     While there are thousands in Florida who have served on their boards for years, guard against being too confident in what you think you know or too confident in how long you have served. Confidence and longevity do not necessarily mean you are right. As you learn more and more about your role on the board of directors, you might find some of your assumptions were incorrect. Be willing to challenge your own assumptions. Be willing to learn. After all, you are managing a multi-million-dollar corporation.

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 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 at www.youtube.com/c/cammatters. For more information, contact Betsy@FloridaCAMSchools.com, call (352) 326-8365, or visit www.FloridaCAMSchools.com.