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 programs that help you find new opportunities, manage the people and resources needed for success, and lead your organization toward its mission.

We’ve found that you can pinpoint underlying issues using the illustrations below. As we move through our careers gaps in knowledge and skills can appear. Whether an artist, an entrepreneur or a professional working within an organization, our programs fill those gaps and help individuals and communities thrive. The leadership path diagram looks at the needs of leaders over the progression of their careers in a fairly traditional organizational model. It shows the connection between career advancement and personal development. The organization life cycle diagram applies to projects as well as other enterprises. The model is one that has been around for a long time.* Its premise is that your needs, opportunities and challenges will vary depending on where you find yourself along the path charted below.

* Greiner, L. "Evolution and Revolution as Organizations Grow." Harvard Business Review. July-August 1972.

The Leadership Path

skill level chart

Organization Life Cycles

Organizational size chart

Where are you in the mix?

Where is your project or organization? Let us help you find strategies to address the opportunities and challenges your facing.
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Phase 1

Growth through creativity

In phase 1, your growth is driven by creativity, which will eventually lead you to a crisis of leadership. More formalized management practices must be adopted. If the founders can't or won't take on this responsibility, they must hire someone who can, and give this person significant authority.

Phase 2

Growth through direction

Growth in phase 2 is a result of direction and will ultimately lead to a crisis of autonomy. Lower level managers must be given more authority if the organization is to continue to grow. The crisis involves top-level managers' reluctance to delegate authority.

Phase 3

Growth through delegation

Phase 3 is about delegation. The crisis here is one of control. This occurs when autonomous employees who prefer to operate without interference from the rest of the organization clash with managers who perceive that they are losing control of the organization.

Phase 4

Growth through collaboration

Growth through coordination eventually leads to a crisis of red tape in phase 4. Coordination techniques like siloed departments, formal planning processes and a more “professional” staff create a bureaucratic system that can eventually slow decision-making and dampen innovation.

Phase 5

Growth through coordination

In the final phase, collaboration is the driver. Here your focus is on teamwork and simplifying formal systems. While the creator of this model didn’t formally outline a crisis, he guessed it would stem from "the psychological saturation of employees who grow emotionally and physically exhausted by the intensity of team work and the heavy pressure for innovative solutions."


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Inspiring & Motivating Arts & Culture Teams

In this on-demand course from NAS and University of Michigan, Ross School of Business you will learn why these motivation problems are not simply due to a “bad” or “unmotivated” team member. Rather, motivation is very much driven by what work conditions we create for our teammates, how we structure goals and objectives, and how we reward people for the accomplishment of those goals. This course will help you diagnose and solve motivation problems so that you can bring out the best in your people.


Senior Management Institute

8 Months | Online | Ann Arbor, MI | Jacksonville, FL

This eight-month program will provide a supportive but challenging environment where senior staff members will…

Executive Program in Arts & Culture Strategy

8 Months | Blended: Online and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia

University of Pennsylvania faculty, the NAS team and some of the best and brightest leaders…

Creative Community Fellows

8 Months | Online | Vermont | West Coast

We’ve built the Creative Community Fellows program for these individuals working at the intersection of culture…

Leading Innovation in Arts & Culture

8 Weeks | Online

Developed by David Owens at Vanderbilt University and customized for the cultural sector by National Arts…

The Chief Executive Program

1 Year | Harvard University, University of Michigan Ross School of Business, the Sundance Mountain Resort

We look to each CEO to share their insights about their community’s assets, their organization’s…

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