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Stereotypes and Archetypes: Which Kind of Co-op/Condo Board Member Are You?

in Board Operations on May 11, 2012

New York City

May 11, 2012

To help ensure that your condo or co-op board works well together it helps to recognize some stereotypical types of board members.

The Take-Charge Member

This is the board member who keeps things moving at a meeting and, with hopefully is a great facilitator. Typically, this type of person already has some executive experience on their resume and is happy to assume the rule of CEO. But a red flag should go up if he or she steamrolls over debates or other members' views, or assumes unilateral power.

The Eternal Pessimist

When considering improvement projects it is important to think about the worst case scenario. Usually this will be brought up by the Eternal Pessimist. This is the member who thinks doom is just around every corner whether that means a leaky faucet that could turn into a mold attack or a crack in the pavement that will result in lawsuits. There is nothing wrong with being overly cautious but that has to be tempered with a bit of realism.

Old Man Potter

Every building has one of these characters. This is the person who is bothered by everything. Even if you were to give in to all of their demands they would still find something wrong. Unlike the Eternal Pessimist who fears bad things happening, Old Man Potter sees wrongs in the actions of others. This is the type who will quote chapter and verse of the co-op proprietary lease and bylaws or the condo governing documents for the slightest of infractions. They will be the first one to complain about the neighbors breaking the rules.


This is the person on the board who has a hard time taking sides. They see both sides of the proverbial coin. While it is great to be objective, at some point you need to take a vote. Too often the Switzerland character wants to be neutral on every issue so as not to offend anyone. The result is that they end up offending everyone because they cannot take a stand.

The Historian

There will always be someone who has lived in your community the longest. They have seen it all come and go. Hopefully, the Historian is amenable to perspective and context. If not, they will begin every story with, "I remember when it was better…" If they are constantly living in the past they will never adapt to changes. But they can also help a board prevent expensive mistakes made in the past.

The Scrooge

This is the board member who does not want to spend a dime on anything. And forget about assessments! They will vote them down as a matter of principle. Actually, there is a benefit to having a Scrooge on the board. They are sure to keep things honest and cost effective.

The Gossip

This might just be the most dangerous person on a board. Being a gossip goes hand in hand with stirring up trouble. Neighbors cannot help but be nosy; it is in everyone's self-interest to pay attention to what is happening. However, when the Gossip takes those "reports" and begins spreading them to create contempt then there is the potential to stir up a hornet's nest of trouble. Best to eliminate this before it gets too pervasive.

So, who is on your co-op / condo board? If you have to ascribe a personality to yourself which would you pick? Who did we leave out? Feel free to share your stories and comments.


This is adapted from the Community Association Management article "Community Association Board Stereotypes: Who is On Your Board?"

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