Must Reads

National Arts Strategies

Selected readings for arts and culture leaders from National Arts Strategies and the Getty Leadership Institute


Leadership evolution-Themed Readings

Connective Leadership: Managing in a Changing World

Jean Lipman-Blumen, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), Originally published as The Connective Edge: Leading in an Interdependent World (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1996), “New World, New Leadership,” pp. 3-27, “The Connective Organization, Matching Leadership and Organizational Styles,” pp. 257-285.

The environment shared by for-profits and nonprofits has remarkable similarities: a global economy afflicted with major uncertainties; collaboration among competitors such as Apple and IBM; and much troubled leadership models, e.g., command and control, manipulative and Machiavellian and “nice guy – team leaders,” as Lipman-Blumen suggests. She argues that two antithetical forces, interdependence and diversity, are generating tensions that will fundamentally change the conditions under which leaders must lead and that to succeed in this dramatically altered environment where inclusion is critical and connection is inevitable, we need a new kind of leadership. Connective Leadership describes that new leadership as “one that is more politically savvy and instrumental, yet more ethical, authentic, accountable, and, particularly, more ennobling.”

Three research streams inform this work. Lipman-Blumen has done qualitative research—mostly interviews with leaders from the for-profit and the nonprofit sectors. The second research stream involves historical, biographical and autobiographical sources. The third is quantitative, based on two instruments: the Achieving Styles Inventory and the Organizational Achieving Styles Inventory. The author uses more than five thousand cases collected and analyzed since 1984. Lipman-Blumen’s perspectives also draw on a wide range of her consulting experience in government, business and the social sector. Part One examines the origins and evolution of the human need for leadership. Part Two presents the Connective Leadership Model in detail. Part Three explores the empirical organizational results and the philosophical implications of the Model.

Available online »


Managing the Arts: Leadership and Decision Making under Dual Rationalities

David Cray, Loretta Inglis and Susan Freeman, The Journal of Arts Management, Law and Society, Vol. 36, Number 4 (Winter 2007): pp. 295-313.

The dual functions of guiding artistic or educational activities and an organization’s administration—even in the best-run museums and performing arts companies fosters structural complexity, competing sets of goals, multiple stakeholder claims and values in some tension with one another. The distinct nature of cultural organizations arises not simply from their missions, but also from the complexity that multiple demands impose. As the authors put it, “…the strategic decision-making process encounters forces, especially those of an aesthetic nature, that conflict with the more rationalist orientation inherent in the managerialist approaches that (these) organizations are being urged to accept. Our aim, in both instances, is to draw heavily on the existing managerial literature to provide greater understanding of the range of roles that cultural organization managers must fill while acknowledging the distinct nature of the environments they face.”

The authors demonstrate how the major leadership styles (charismatic, transactional, transformational and participatory) play into these tensions. Each style has its unique advantages and disadvantages but many researchers now hold that successful leaders have their “default” style. In other words, they work to match personal styles with the culture of the organization and the demands of its environment. The size of the organization, diversity of programs, internal political arrangements, relationships with external stakeholders, financial stability, institutional image, age and stage of growth or decline will impact the fit between a leader’s style and organizational effectiveness.

The article concludes with a very practical section on strategic decision-making in cultural organizations, covering rational models, decision making as a political exercise, incremental decision making (small bets and experiments) and “the garbage can: strategy as a pattern in random events.” Again, the appropriate model to use ought to be reached situationally. One size never really fits all.

Available online »


Being the Boss: the 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader

Linda Hill and Kent Lineback, (Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2011), “Your Three Imperatives as a Manager,” pp. 11-29.

In many ancient myths, the hero’s task is to learn the name of the Beast. By addressing the Beast by name, the hero can control the Beast. Hill and Lineback name the many Beasts that torment leaders and managers, the paradoxes that both daunt and define the work of bosses. Leaders and managers are responsible for what others do. To focus on the work they must focus on the people doing the work. They must both develop people and evaluate them. They must make the group a cohesive team without losing sight of the individuals on the team. To lead their group they must manage the larger context beyond the group. They must focus on today; they must focus on tomorrow. They must execute and innovate. They must sometimes do harm in order to do a greater good.

The tension within each paradox is never fully and truly resolved, nor should it be. The “right” action will always be a matter of judgment, explaining why management is so stressful. The paradoxes also explain why the world needs managing, why becoming a successful manager is a lengthy, difficult, personal journey requiring self-knowledge. And all this happens in a dynamic workplace with a changing workforce.

Naming and explaining the paradoxes makes it possible to deal with them in a balanced and thoughtful way, i.e., through Hill and Lineback’s three imperatives: manage yourself, manage your network and manage your team. The balance of the work expands in extremely practical ways on these imperatives.

The book is a distillation of Linda Hill’s almost 30 years at Harvard Business School (HBS) where she has studied what effective managers do and how they do it. She chairs the HBS Leadership Initiative.

Available online »