Secrets of Creative Leadership

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Secrets of Creative Leadership

Leaders of homeowners associations often draw inspiration from creative leaders in other industries. Unlikely influencers from outside of our own sphere can exemplify the critical qualities we need to have as association board members and leaders.

Bruce Springsteen, for example, combines many of the attributes that we find in strong association leaders. As a performer, he is a master of creative leadership, and we can benefit from observing his qualities in action. Think of leaders you admire, and you will likely find many that personify attributes we need to develop in order harmonize our own organizations. Here are a few lessons we can look to draw from a variety of leaders:

“Strong leaders acknowledge they are not always the source of their organization’s greatest ideas. Nor do they intend to be that source. Their role is to create a culture of contribution and to actively listen to what talented people have to offer.”

Smile, have fun and welcome everyone to delight in the experience.

Running an organization as complex as an HOA requires inspiring people to work collaboratively toward common objectives. The hours can often be long and the work challenging. Often things don’t go as planned or it may be difficult to find a consensus among members at a board meeting or homeowners at a forum. Getting a new committee off the ground may be a challenge, as schedules conflict. Never let others see you sweat! Set an example of positivity by smiling, engaging and demonstrating that your work isn’t drudgery, but a labor of love.

Don’t be afraid to be spontaneous.

Give yourself the freedom to be more spontaneous in meetings and at speaking engagements. Allow your passion and principles to guide you and you should be much more effective in getting people to follow your lead. Fans of Bruce Springsteen love the unexpected ways in which he reinvents his music and goes off script. Sticking to the standard playlist and doing things the way you always did can block creativity. Departing from the routine occasionally can result in a fresh perspective and help to inspire creative collaboration. Being spontaneous can be advantageous when you want to try something new, like when you are brainstorming new social activities for your residents.

Share your vision and involve more contributors.

To accomplish your vision, you need to communicate it effectively and surround yourself with people who share it. Have you communicated and instilled a sustaining vision of your community? Do you invite newcomers to introduce fresh perspectives as they enjoy the spotlight? Introducing new contributors to the same group that serves on committees and heads up events infuses projects with creativity. Bruce’s secret is broadening his team and focusing new and experienced minds toward a common goal. This works as well in strategic HOA planning as it does in concert performances.

Listen and appreciate the talents of others.

Strong leaders acknowledge they are not always the source of their organization’s greatest ideas. Nor do they intend to be that source. Their role is to create a culture of contribution and to actively listen to what talented people have to offer. If you find yourself in a position where you are welcoming new neighbors to volunteer groups, provide the opportunity for these people to express their ideas. When you finish projects, tell the story of your collective efforts and of the individuals who had special roles in making the project a success. When people feel free to contribute and they are recognized for their efforts, they increase their feeling of equity and willingness to contribute.

Show your ENERGY!

Energy is the hallmark that distinguishes “The Boss” among musicians. There is no denying its power to unify people toward a common purpose. Be energetic as you contribute your ideas to the promotional website for your subdivision. Show your energy as you promote, enlist participants, and dish up servings at your next chili cook-off. People feed off of energy!

Inspired leaders do so much for their communities. Look for these inspirational lessons in the leaders you admire, and apply them every day.

After all, “You can’t start a fire without a spark.”  

– from Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark.”  (Click to view a video that shows Bruce in action)

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Judi Phares
President and CEO Judi M. Phares is the President and CEO of CMA. She is a member and past President of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of CAI, and chaired the Community Association Managers International Certification Board (CAMICB). Phares also served as past Chair PCAM® - Ethics Committee and is past Chair of the Texas Community Association Advocates, Inc., the public policy voice for property owner associations in Texas, as well as being previously involved in the PCAM program as an instructor. Phares was honored as a recipient of the Prestigious Barbara Keenan Byrd Award for her Exceptionally valuable contribution to Community Association Management Certification. Her company, CMA, is the winner of the prestigious American Business Ethics Award and the Greater Dallas Business Ethics Award, which honor companies that demonstrate a firm commitment to ethical business practices in everyday operations, management philosophies, and responses to crises or challenges.