I thought they were just stupid, but it turns out the bigger problem is a failure to lead.

Six weeks ago I wrote to my condo board requesting:

“an update on efforts to address the intermittent lack of hot water. As ‘condo zero’—the first place that this problem shows up—I would like to know what the Board is doing to address this problem and what the solution is.”

They don’t have one. So they’ve decided people’s faucets are to blame (yes, the same faucets I’ve had in my condo for years). Actually, the problem started after the solar panels went up. But since they can’t pinpoint the problem, they can’t accept a possible cause and effect.

That’s the stupid part. But here’s the leadership flaw: Cowardice.

You can’t be a leader if you don’t listen.

Here’s how this board is deliberately isolating itself:

  • Not providing their phone numbers or email addresses.
  • Providing only a generic “info@” email address for all correspondence with the board.
  • Cancelling monthly pre-board open meetings with co-owners.
  • Offering people the “opportunity” to meet privately with the board (i.e., we don’t want you to share your concerns with anyone else).
  • Designating only 2 of the 5 board members to meet with co-owners at all (i.e., 3 of the 5 never want to hear from co-owners).

You get the pattern, right?

You can’t make informed decisions if you’re not informed.

I still haven’t received a response from the board; But I finally got someone’s attention when I posted an open letter on the building’s bulletin board that starts:

“Concerned About Plummeting Property Values at 4600 CONN. AVE. CONDO? So am I.”

It took them over 24 hours before anyone saw it. (Then they took it down.) I got this response from the building’s part-time manager:

“The bulletin boards are not the place to post complaints. Items there can be read by prospective buyers, and could seriously impair an owner’s chances of selling.”

Actually, no. Being lucky if you get hot water will seriously impair an owner’s chances of selling.

I want to survive the zombie apocalypse.

This is about business. In this example, the focus is property values, community, and quality of life. But maybe in your company the focus is supply chain management, employee retention, or product innovation.

This board appears only to be concerned about people finding out about problems. Real leaders are interested in solutions. When the zombie apocalypse comes, what kind of leader do you want to see?

Photo by Randy Salgado (Flickr).