Must Reads

National Arts Strategies

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


Strategy-Themed Readings

Mission Impact: Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits

Robert M. Sheehan, (New Jersey: Wiley, 2010), “Chapter 1,” pp. 1-15.

In order to discuss strategy intelligently in the nonprofit sector, we must first understand what nonprofit strategy is and how it compares with that of the for-profit sector. Both sectors may have overlapping goals, but their primary concerns differ greatly. Performance for nonprofits means achieving the mission. Their for-profit counterparts exist to make a profit. This difference has a profound impact on how strategies for the two sectors are crafted.

This chapter from Sheehan’s book Mission Impact provides two important pieces of information: a reinforcement of the notion of nonprofit organizations’ role in society and a definition of what strategy means for those organizations. Sheehan writes in a simple and straightforward manner, citing preceding publications on the subject. We consider this to be a contemporary classic, as its recent publication date belies its timeless lessons on leadership. You may need to order this one from an online seller or university bookstore because it has limited availability in public libraries.

It is enlightening for leaders to revisit this foundational subject in order to refocus the organization on its core reason for existence: its mission. Sheehan argues against other proposed measures of performance, such as the goal approach or internal process approach. Many other elements such as programs, personnel and finance are important to consider, but these are all means to achieving the desired outcome of mission fulfillment—the unique premise of the nonprofit sector.

Available online »


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 »