Running a Management Company

In the association management industry, leading with empathy and awareness is essential for building strong relationships with teammates, stakeholders, and partners. As mentioned in our latest white paper on EQ, empathy involves the ability to understand and share the feelings of others, while awareness is the ability to recognize and respond to different perspectives and experiences. By combining these two skills, teammates, especially leaders, can create a more inclusive, diverse, and collaborative environment that fosters trust, engagement, and loyalty among their teams.

While all of that sounds great on paper, it’s challenging to execute in the real world. After all, owners are constantly faced with a myriad of fires to put out – from unruly board members to exhausted community managers, it’s hard to take a step back from the day-to-day and question if you’re practicing EQ in your regular communications. So we broke it down into five bite-sized tips that you can easily keep on a post-it over your laptop as a gentle reminder to lead with empathy and awareness.

1. Cultivate a culture of inclusivity.

Leaders can create a more inclusive culture by valuing and celebrating diversity, fostering a sense of belonging, and actively promoting equality and fairness. This involves being aware of the different needs, experiences, and perspectives of teammates and creating a welcoming and supportive environment for all. Let’s say, for instance, that you have one manager who is constantly sharing personal stories and asking for advice on family matters, and another who talks nothing but business. And let’s say that you find the first manager more relatable to you, and you don’t connect with the other manager as well. If you aren’t fostering inclusivity in your management style, you may inadvertently favor the first manager for career growth opportunities, even if they both perform at the same level. That’s why it’s so important to recognize different work styles and motivators, and why a leader needs to flex their communication and coaching patterns to support all employees on a level playing field.

2. Foster open and honest communication.

Effective communication is key to building trust and engagement with teammates and key stakeholders. Leaders can lead with empathy by being honest and transparent in their communication, while also being sensitive to the emotional impact of their words. This involves actively listening to feedback and concerns, providing clear and concise information, and using language that is respectful and inclusive.

3. Provide resources and support.

Teammates need to feel supported in their career growth and aspirations, and luckily for us, that’s fairly easy to provide in the community association management industry. Training and education programs, mentorship or coaching services, or access to industry experts and thought leaders are vital to effective leadership. Owners should also be supporting managers in their plans to achieve certification by helping them build out a project plan for their education, sharing valuable resources through CAI and CACM, and if possible, providing financial assistance and PTO to obtain certification. By providing employees with the tools and resources they need to succeed, leaders can demonstrate their commitment to their teams’ success.

4. Practice mindfulness and self awareness.

When owning a business, one is consistently looking ahead into the future to understand growth opportunities and pending challenges. But it’s easy to get caught up in the future and fail to focus on the present. Your employees don’t need you five years from now; they need you now. Make sure that in the midst of strategy-building, you are focusing on the current needs of your teammates and where you can better support them at this very moment. This level of mindfulness will go a long way towards building trust among your team.

5. Foster a culture of continuous learning.

We discussed the importance of providing resources and tools such as certification programs to foster learning and development, but really, development needs to happen on a continuous basis. To lead with empathy and awareness means to consistently offer coaching and education to teammates. In 1:1 meetings, leaders should set aside at least five minutes for coaching and development; whether it relates to workload management, homeowner communications, or ways in which technology can support career growth. By valuing and promoting learning, leaders can create a culture that is open to new ideas and perspectives and fosters innovation and creativity.

Leading with empathy and awareness is essential for building strong relationships and driving success in the association management industry. By cultivating a culture of inclusivity, fostering open and honest communication, providing resources and support, practicing mindfulness and self-awareness, and fostering a culture of continuous learning, leaders can create a more empathetic, diverse, and collaborative environment that benefits everyone involved. To continue the conversation, we encourage leaders to review our latest EQ white paper and our Rethink Community series.


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