A great philosopher once said, “Don’t confuse power with leadership. The wise don’t need power to lead.” However, what a company leader does need are specific skills and traits that can guide the company’s direction, inspire its talent and address challenges. Their personalities, knowledge and vision set them apart as a true leader no matter what industry they serve.
In addition to this leadership tool kit, there are industry-specific skills and traits that reflect situations and experiences that are unique to each industry. As part of the community management industry, we have worked with a wide range of companies where leadership provides a benchmark example of the most essential traits to develop and leverage.
To effectively lead others in a community management environment, it is important that a leader first be able to manage themselves. This self-management includes time, productivity, neutrality and emotions.
A leadership role in this industry involves diverse tasks, complex decisions, multiple opinions and a wide range of emotions. There are long hours, stressful situations, unexpected events and sensitive issues. Through it all, a leader needs to remain controlled, yet compassionate as well as balanced and unbiased.
Whether they work in-person or as part of a remote team, employees look to their leader for context and direction. Therefore, it is important that a leader be adept at regularly sharing what’s on their mind, what decisions they have made and why and the expectations in place for how the team should act on those plans and decisions. This includes being able to provide that information in a way that is clear as well as defines the benefits and roles involved. Doing so can make all the difference in whether the team is successful or not at delivering based on what’s been communicated.
Part of providing effective communication as a leader also involves having the innate ability to know when it’s an appropriate time to speak and when it is better to actively listen. A leader should also be able to have this dialogue across all levels (one-on-one, team, company-wide) and channels (in-person, phone, email, video, social media). This means understanding how to use verbal, non-verbal and written methods as a master communicator.
Although the world appears to be continually churning with change, a community management company leader can still be a visionary in how they approach strategic planning for the communities they serve. Behind the visionary trait, a community management leader is also naturally curious and shows genuine interest in making things better for the communities they serve.
It is one thing to be visionary and have an imaginative mind about what the future may look like. But, it is another thing all together to combine that creativity with an understanding of a constantly evolving external environment and their company’s operational sustainability through those potential future changes. In doing so, a leader who is strategic about how they envision the direction for their company and who maintains a positive outlook can guide it toward a more successful future.
Behind the scenes, a leader recognizes the value of taking the time to think critically about their role, decisions, and actions, including the impact all of this has on the people they serve along with the established objectives of each community. It involves thinking deeply about where value can be added and the types of actions that produce the most positive impact.
There may be situations where fast decisions are necessary. However, a leader who can think critically has the ability to incorporate more factors and options as part of even the quickest decision. This helps to ensure that a leader does not act on impulse and/or emotion at the height of a critical situation.
Being an innovator and leader are similar roles. Both step out ahead of the crowd and have followers. In stepping out ahead of the pack and showing a willingness to take risks, these leaders can make change happen instead of safely waiting for someone else to do it.
Besides being able to think and act in an innovative way, a leader can also create and foster a culture, or work environment, that encourages the rest of the organization to do the same. This includes offering ongoing learning and development as well as creating moments and experiences that stimulate the team to brainstorm, experiment, and prototype new ideas that can address today’s challenging, complex business environment.
In thinking of an acrobat, they are limber and flexible as well as willing to bend over backwards. Those are also critical traits that a community management leader must have to respond to the ever-changing rules and regulations that face today’s HOAs. On top of that, every community is unique in terms of its challenges and issues, which requires being nimble and willing to change directions at any time or do whatever is necessary to handle the unexpected.
The last few years have also proven that it is okay to make mistakes when dealing with unprecedented situations, especially when there is no previous blueprint for handling such extreme times. It just means getting back up and trying again until the ideas work, and a leader who is willing to continue trying until something works also illustrates other critical traits like agility, resilience and stamina.
A leader must be comfortable being front and center for the company, inspiring and exciting everyone as well as addressing those situations that do not go as planned. Although they are at the top of the organization, a community management company leader is also part of the team.
Therefore, they need to be ready to jump into that “ring” and roll up their sleeves if needed, to get the job done. For those in the HOA communities, it is also good for them to see active involvement and concern from outside leadership who cares about their communities.
A leader is only as good as those they lead, so it’s in a leader’s best interests to focus on developing their team members and nurturing relationships with their company’s talent. That’s why an effective leader appreciates the value of supporting others, recognizing and encouraging individuality and unique talents and knowing when it is an appropriate time to apply organizational structures and rules.
As the “original” influencer, a leader can do a lot to promote team building in an organization, emphasizing the role each person plays on the team and how working together brings out the best. In this role as influencer, a leader also understands they can do a lot to enhance all types of relationships through their words and actions, showing appreciation for others. In turn, these individuals will feel more valued and connected to the organization, propelling them to raise performance levels and fulfill the organization’s key goals.
We put our leadership capabilities into practice with all of our managed community partners. Joining our co-op means that you also can tap into the leadership knowledge and expertise of like-minded companies that may have similar issues and challenges.