Along Florida’s shores are many tall buildings called condos. Once in a while they collapse due to neglect or incompetence with sorrowfully fatal consequences.
This happens when condo residents elect those to serve on their boards of directors based mostly on how friendly, cheerful and to use their favorite word, how “transparent” they are, but not how knowledgeable, experienced, hard working or technically capable they are in keeping their hi-rise oceanfront abodes built decades ago structurally safe.
So, in effect condo residents tend to elect friends to command and lead their aged armies into the battle for their lives, fighting a continuous war with corrosion caused by constant invasion of salt air attacking their building’s steel rebar supported infrastructure.
Here’s an actual exchange of emails between Sam, a nervous condo resident, and Mildred, a fellow owner and condo commando who staged a successful coup to unseat an unusually competent, but not the most cordial condo president, Phil.
To preserve privacy after a hotly contested condo board election, names are changed to protect members of a lynch mob who decapitated their productive president, primarily because he wasn’t gentle and didn’t smile enough.
Yes, poor Phil, who was voted out of office, was not the friendliest fellow, but he knew the dangers of rust and led a two-front war in the condo’s north and south buildings against rusting rebar endangering balconies and maybe much more. Phil was even about to check out a rust-proof rebar product made by a company nearby called Basanite, Inc.
Mildred, some are telling me that you led the uprising against Phil for personal reasons. I hope that’s not true. Phil is the most qualified manager and supervisor of all the work being done on our infrastructure that we’ve ever had. Our aging buildings need constant attention by someone who knows what they’re doing.
Now I’m hearing the new board members whom you vigorously supported are a disaster in that regard. All nice people, much friendlier perhaps than Phil, but not anyway near as expert on building maintenance and repairs as he is.
Now some owners want me to write a critique of the election, including your role in leading the uprising against Phil, but I’d rather not dive that deeply into our condo politics and I regard you as friend.
Meanwhile, I can’t believe this new board, all proudly wearing their “transparency” badges, is not appointing Phil at least to chair the building committee as most of the new board members are not nearly as qualified in that area. So, I strongly urge you to persuade your friends to put Phil in charge of the building committee as he’s the most qualified for that position.
We must stop being politicians and judging people just on how friendly, sweet, ideally perfect, and likeable they are.
While our buildings should be rust proof, our leaders need not be gruff proof.
What counts much more is how smartly, effectively and efficiently they manage to get things done that will best protect the respective investments of their constituencies and most of all keep them safe!
Then Sam gets this reply from Mildred via email.
Sam, I have nothing personal against Phil, but I had many reasons not to support him. All I can say is that this was my worst experience in my almost 10 years serving on the board.
I am not surprised you are being asked to write something against me, I know this is coming from the same people that have harassed me for years. Call it discrimination, jealousy or whatever, they are the ones that have caused all the division and nastiness in our community.
Sam feels Mildred’s emotions and how she was truly hurt, yet there’s not a word about Phil’s competency nor his record of achievements as president in keeping the community sound and secure at minimum disruption and cost.
Nasty is the last thing leaders should be in any community, nor should they act in a way that causes more division than necessary. Still, Sam sees not a word about Phil’s competency, direction, hard work or success, so he can’t help thinking Mildred’s critics are correct. It’s a personal matter, not a professional issue.
Leaders should not be judged solely on how likable they are, but on how effective they are in getting things done properly in the public interest.
Besides a veteran blogger and condo dweller, Tom Madden is a former journalist and author of countless published articles and five books, including KING OF THE CONDO and his latest, WORDSHINE MAN, available April on Amazon. He is the CEO of TransMedia Group, an award-winning public relations firm serving clients worldwide since 1981 and has conducted remarkably successful media campaigns and crisis management for America’s largest companies and organizations.