Thought Leadership

The GLI philosophy of museum leadership builds proficiency in three main areas: 1) Increasing self-awareness; 2) Understanding your institution’s strengths and challenges; and 3) Connecting your work to the larger museum field for the betterment of society.

For 40 years, the GLI has been devoted to developing thought leaders in the museum field. Thought leaders change the way people think and the way they behave. Thought leaders have a passion about advancing the things that matter. Thought leaders look at their work through a different lens and encourage others to apply their own perspective by contributing input and ideas. They know why their program or product matters and how to inspire action in their constituents by staying true to their mission and values. Thought leaders are persuasive and use compelling narrative to engender support.

Soft Power

Today’s museum leaders must grapple with their institution’s role in building cultural infrastructure both locally and globally. In this talk, delivered at the NextGen Now 2017 Summit at GLI, cultural leader Ngaire Blankenberg makes the case for museums as strong, societal networks that can deftly employ soft power to accelerate cultural change at home or around the world.

Think about the three types of soft power: visible, hidden, and invisible. Which type of soft power do you exert to move your institution’s agenda forward? What strategies might you deploy to use soft power more effectively in fulfilling your museum’s mission?


To learn more about soft power and museums, visit these links: Museums and Soft Power; Museums Matter: Soft power; and Cities, Museums, and Soft Power.

Imposter Syndrome



In this Tedx Met talk, GLI alumna Sandra Jackson-Dumont (GLI 2002) delves into the area of self-awareness. Jackson-Dumont is currently the Sandra P. Rose Chairman of Education at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In her talk, she takes us back to her childhood when she first felt a “fear of being found out” – now widely known as “the imposter syndrome” that one in five people harbor within.

As you watch this video, reflect back on times in your career when you felt fear or anxiety about your performance as a museum leader, or when you felt that what you were doing was somehow not good enough. Are you comfortable self-identifying as a museum leader? Think of an instance when your fear or insecurity motivated you. How did it help you find inspiration and the tenacity to move forward on your own terms?

When the imposter syndrome rears its ugly head, consider how you can use your imagination to envision a new version of yourself where you stand in your full authenticity and power. Jackson-Dumont offers these three tips: 1) Remember you are not alone; 2) Growth and change always create anxiety. Use it to your advantage; and 3) Relax.

You have nothing to hide.

Your Place in the World

In this video, Grace Sai, Founder of Books for Hope and co-founder of The Hub Singapore, speaks at TEDxSingaporeWomen in 2011 about social entrepreneurship. Sai’s talk illuminates on the three main areas of GLI’s philosophy through a millennial lens: 1) Self-fulfillment; 2) Finding the right place for your organization; and 3) Understanding what the world needs from you.

Think about how you can use your role at your museum to find your place in world. Have you sketched out a plan that can guide your leadership development? Do you observe, analyze, and plan to improve your museum? Have you harnessed your own passion and the passion of those that follow you to use your museum in way that is valued by society? How do you define success? Are you brave enough to recognize your museum’s role in the world?



Leading Teams


Every good museum leader can listen to the input of others and synthesize opinion to gain support for moving forward. Great museum leaders can diagnose the culture of various groups that influence the success or failure of their organization and identify the levers that can move those group to the next level of performance. In this video, longtime GLI faculty member Dave Logan, author of Tribal Leadership and professor at the USC Marshall School of Business explains the 5 stages of organizational tribes and provides insight for identifying the values that motivate each group.

What stage is your museum tribe in? How might you lead that tribe to the next level? How do you balance movement between the tribes in a complex museum environment? Are there tribes within your organization that tend to slide backward? If so, why? As a museum leader, what actions can you take to diagnose your museum’s culture, recognize a set of shared values, articulate aspirations and create wow moments in fulfilling your mission?

Start with Why

View Simon Sinek’s video and consider how you inspire action and engagement at your institution. What opportunities and challenges might arise for your institution if you applied Sinek’s Golden Circle technique? As a thought leader, how might you build upon Sinek’s ideas to change your institution or the museum field for the better?