Peter F. Drucker, (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008), “Who Is Our Customer,” pp. 25-46.
Airport bookstores are filled with the latest answers from management gurus. None have enjoyed anything approaching the long shelf life of Peter Drucker—perhaps because his specialty was questions, the questions. Drucker’s questions help organizations address their core strengths and weaknesses and design their strategy. A stellar cast of current scholars: Jim Collins, Philip Kotler, Jim Kouzes, Judith Rodin, Kas Rangan and Frances Hesselbein celebrate Drucker’s achievement with to-the-point essays that apply Drucker’s five basic questions to contemporary organizational life: What is our mission? Who is our customer? What does the customer value? What are our results? What is our plan?
Drucker would be no stranger to the tensions in almost every cultural organization: continuity and change, financial sustainability and honoring the muses, and the collisions of value sets among the various professions staffing the organization. Drucker’s questions often both surface these tensions and offer the superordinate values in which differences might be resolved.
The book also includes Peter Drucker’s organizational self-assessment process—not so much a questionnaire as it is a potentially transformative organization-wide process. The process has a strong focus on goals, emphasizing commitment to direction and flexibility in execution. It places ownership and accountability with individuals and leads participants to results monitoring that—in turn—closes the loop with an improved strategy.
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.
Heather McLeod Grant and Leslie R. Crutchfield, Stanford Social Innovation Review (Fall 2007): pp. 32-41.
This is a study of twelve high performing nonprofits, all in existence for more than ten years, organizations that faced similar social, political and economic circumstances. The twelve were nominated by almost 3,000 executive directors of nonprofits as organizations that had achieved a high impact. Sixty experts in nine different fields helped analyze the survey results and narrow the number of nonprofits to be examined. McLeod and Crutchfield then began a multi-level, two-year study of the twelve high impact organizations including San Francisco’s Exploratorium, Teach for America in New York and America’s Second Harvest in Chicago.
The authors assumed that their success was due to traditional habits like brilliant marketing, well-tuned operations and rigorously developed strategic plans. To their surprise, achieving high impact for the twelve was not about building a great organization and then scaling it up site by site or dollar by dollar. It was not about perfect management, brand name awareness, breakthrough ideas, textbook mission statements, high ratings on conventional metrics or even large budgets.
Rather, these high-impact nonprofits worked with and through organizations and individuals outside themselves to create more impact than they ever could have achieved alone. They built social movements and fields; they transformed business, government, other nonprofits and individuals and they changed the world around them. It was all about leverage.
Their six key practices: serve and advocate, make markets work, inspire evangelists by involving them in the core work, e.g., Habitat for Humanity, nurture nonprofit networks, master adaptation and share leadership.
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.
Liz Wiseman with Greg McKeown, (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2010), “The Debate Maker,” pp. 133-158, “Becoming a Multiplier,” pp. 195-223.
Don’t think “supervision,” think “talent management.” The talent manager is a multiplier rather than a diminisher. The successful talent manager displays positive regard and makes wise selections of stretch assignments for others. The five principles are: attract and optimize talent, create intensity that requires the best thinking, extend challenges, debate decisions and instill ownership and accountability—invest, don’t micromanage.
The diminisher is a person who gives directions in a way that showcases his or her superior knowledge. Instead of seeding an opportunity and laying out a believable challenge, the diminisher tells and then tests. The diminisher often considers himself or herself a thought leader and readily shares knowledge but in a way that rarely invites others’ contributions. The diminisher sells his or her ideas rather than learning what others already know.
The multiplier amplifies others’ intelligence. He or she creates collective, viral intelligence in organizations. Bono, the musician and humanitarian, is fond of repeating the story of a woman who had dined at one time or another with both Prime Ministers Gladstone and Disraeli. She left Gladstone knowing that he was the smartest person in the Empire. After dining with Disraeli, she felt as if she was the smartest person in the world.
The book is solidly based on the work of a core research team from Stanford, Brigham Young and the University of Michigan. The core research question was, “What are the crucial differences between intelligence diminishers and intelligence multipliers and what impact does each have on organizations?” There was a process of nomination, a research-administered survey and two rounds of structured interviews. This is a best practices text written in a journalistic style.
The bonus is that multiplying others’ intelligence is not only a richly human (i.e., ethical) way to interact but, as the evidence clearly suggests, increases productivity dramatically.
Serene Suchy, (Walnut Creek: Altamira Press, 2004), "Trust, the Director-Trustee Interface," pp. 125-149.
Dr. Suchy exclusively focuses on art museums. Nevertheless, based on her extensive interviews with 42 directors of international art museums, she describes a four-part leadership model that could apply equally to all cultural organizations. First, represent the organization internally and externally based on your passion. Second, create a context for others to do their best coaching and team building. Third, act as an ethical entrepreneur to ensure the organization’s financial and reputational future. Finally, nurture relationships of trust with key stakeholders.
All four dimensions are important and Suchy’s treatment is practical. Of particular interest is her take on the director-trustee interface, i.e., what others have called “the” strategic relationship. Suchy details the predictable role confusions in three areas: governance, policy development, and succession planning. These areas are explored from the director’s point of view though it is balanced with views from other professionals responsible for trustee appointments or for activities in service of strengthening boards. Her treatment distinguishes the unique challenges in importantly different museum cultures, those of Australia, Canada, England and the United States.
After all, the Director and Board Chairperson are not on opposite sides of the tennis court net, they are a doubles team disagreeing often enough but sharing the disagreement in a whisper before the next serve. And trustees are on museum boards because they want to be useful. They have been sought for the role in order to make better use of their skills, experience and resources in service of an organization they believe makes a difference in the world.
Ronald E. Riggio and Sarah Smith Orr, editors. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004), “Transforming Nonprofit Boards,” pp. 119-130.
Riggio and Orr capture the substance of the Kravis-de Roulet Leadership Conference focused on the nonprofit. Several themes are addressed including change in and transformation of nonprofits, the special nature of nonprofit leadership and the ways in which ideas and actions are interconnected. The scope of the conference was broad, including many challenges faced by nonprofit leaders, e.g., board management, staff motivation, leadership development and program evaluation. The book is intended to be a guidebook for leading nonprofit organizations rather than a handbook of nonprofit leadership or management. This book’s essays are designed to stimulate a nonprofit leader’s thinking and to point out new directions and new ideas for leading that are all well-grounded in theory, research and practice. The essays prompt questions rather than prescribing answers.
Jay Congar’s essay on governance as leadership, “Transforming Nonprofit Boards—Lessons from the World of Corporate Governance,” will be of particular interest to the executive directors of cultural organizations. Congar builds on Peter Drucker’s advice in Managing the Nonprofit Organization:“Over the door to the nonprofit’s boardroom there should be an inscription in big letters that says: Membership on this board is not power, it is responsibility. Board membership means responsibility not just to the organization but to the board itself, to the staff, and to the institution’s mission.” There are four corporate governance areas that Congar believes offer lessons to nonprofit boards: board size, boardroom evaluations, assessments of directors’ capabilities and efficient formats for board meetings. His advice about leveraging the resources around the board table includes descriptions of key knowledge areas that should be present in any well rounded board. He also emphasizes the need not to waste busy people’s time with poorly designed meetings.
The complex issues involved in leading a cultural nonprofit today can challenge even the most skilled management team. Using our first-hand experience in the arts and working with faculty from leading business and graduate schools, we deliver executive-level programs that help you find new opportunities, manage your resources and lead your organization toward its mission.