To Err is Human Avoiding Common Board Mistakes

Boards of directors are usually made up of ordinary people, elected or appointed by their neighbors to run their building smoothly and efficiently. Most board members do their utmost to fulfill that expectation, but occasionally, even the most well-intentioned board members can make mistakes—some of which may have serious legal ramifications for their buildings. Fortunately help is available to both novice board members as well as seasoned veterans, in the form of fellow board members, building professionals and seminars.

The Dirty Dozen

While any board member can misstep at any time, most often it is the new board member, filled with sometimes overzealous ambition who is more prone to errors in judgment, says Suz Landi, vice president and director of management for David Frankel Realty, Inc., a management company based in Manhattan.

“Many come to the position with the misconception that it’s a fast-track to getting a personal problem solved. They lose sight of the fact that they’re really volunteering for the greater good of the constituency of the entire building.”

That realization often comes as a rude awakening, says Landi, especially when the board member is accosted in the elevator by people who he or she thought were friendly neighbors. “They bear the brunt of other shareholders’ frustrations,” says Landi.

A more grievous error, and one which often is committed both by seasoned and entry-level board members alike, is forgetting that what goes on behind the board room door is privileged, confidential information.

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