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.