Thinking Inside the Box

A Paddocks Sectional Title Lifestyle Blog

The Body Corporate Chairperson’s Leadership Role

chairman of body corporate

Are you ready for a Reader Contribution?!

Anne Greening, currently serving her 10th term as Trustee of a successfully self-managed 120 section retirement village in the Southern Cape, shares some of her thoughts on the body corporate chairperson’s role.

Here’s what she had to share with us:

The responsibility for the control, administration and management of  the common property in a sectional title scheme is vested in the Body Corporate. These functions and powers are exercised by the Trustees on behalf of the BC; or put in simpler terms, the scheme is managed by the Trustees.  Fair enough, and quite straightforward.

The Trustees appoint one of their number as Chairman. The Chairman’s powers under the Sectional Titles Act are no more than those of any Trustee; except that she Chairs meetings, and has a casting vote at Trustees’ meetings.  So here we have a group of – say – half-a-dozen Trustees, all with a finger in the management pie.  This does not make management sense.

What is a manager?  My favourite definition is that she is someone who enables people to work together to achieve a common goal.  (All right: I’ll stop being a feminist.  Hereinafter any reference to the masculine sex refers equally to the feminine). If you accept this definition, you could say that he co-ordinates the work.

This argument leads to the conclusion that someone needs to co-ordinate the Trustees’ efforts in carrying out their legal responsibilities, if this goal is to be achieved. A leader is needed. Without a leader, there would be a risk of some tasks being duplicated; others left undone; and contradictory decisions made.  Information needs to be shared, and tasks delegated to specific Trustees. The logical person to take on the leadership role would be the Trustee whom they have elected as their Chairman.

Thus, although the Act does not recognize the need for a leader; and does not give such powers to any Trustee; in practical terms, the Chairman usually emerges as the leader, and carries out the function of a Manager.  This is especially so in self-managed schemes.  In some schemes which one reads about, where a MA is theoretically employed by the Trustees, it appears that the MA reverses roles and actually manages them!

Of course, there are good leaders and bad leaders; and some of us just bumble along somewhere between those two poles, doing our best.  I am not advocating a change in the Act to give the Chairman more powers (heaven forbid: we come across enough little Hitlers without that). This is merely an observation of the Chairman’s extra-legal role which, when carried out well, can lead to a well-run scheme; and when done badly or not at all can lead to the sorts of problems we read about in these fora.

Thanks for sharing Anne!

Do you have any thoughts on the chairperson’s leadership role? Share with us by commenting below.

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7 comments on “The Body Corporate Chairperson’s Leadership Role

  1. Pingback: Chairpersons in Sectional Title: What You Need to Know | Thinking Inside the Box

  2. Petro
    August 2, 2013

    Well said Ian, Some trustees will walk pass the problem and come and report it to you, “cause you know what to do”.

  3. Wills
    August 2, 2013

    I agree with Anne. Trustees are like an orchestra and it needs a conductor to make good music otherwise it only makes noise. If the scheme is really lucky it may even have a maestro.

    • Ian D. Samson
      August 2, 2013

      Having orchestral experience, even with a conductor, the orchestra can sound like a cats’ chorus when everyone does their own thing. However, co-ordination skills are a prerequisite for any “managing trustee” and without those skills, an autocracy can develop. In our case, we have 4 other trustees whose ST knowledge is severely lacking due to an unwillingness to learn, as they leave everything to me (the managing trustee with 22 years ST knowledge & experience). Then they have the audacity to complain when they’re no consulted. When they are not consulted, it is because their usual response is “You know more than I, so why not just do it yourself?”. Musical Maestro, please. I take a bow.

  4. Petro
    August 1, 2013

    I agree with Anne, as trustees we need a leader. Trustees look at the chairperson as the leader and as trustees we work together. Needles to say that some of the owners will not acknowledge the trustees decisions and questions this all the way even to arbitration.

  5. Ian D. Samson
    August 1, 2013

    Excellent as always, Anne. Thanks for sharing.

  6. alwynduplessis
    August 1, 2013

    The roel of the chairperson is to chair meetings….no more and no less. Trustees must get specific tasks and they must report back to trustee meetings. This ysytem works at our well managed complex

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