Leadership Assessment Resources

Critical Issues Checklist

Vision and Leadership

Mission and Vision
  • Does the governing authority have a clear understanding of the museum’s mission?
  • Does the mission guide the way in which they operate?
  • Does the governing authority have a clear vision of how the museum should develop in the next few years?
Strategic Planning
  • Has the governing authority engaged in appropriate and effective planning to achieve this vision?
Evaluating the Museum’s Performance
  • Does the governing authority have an effective process for measuring and assessing the success of the museum’s exhibits, programs and services?
Succession Planning
  • Does the governing authority have an effective process to identify and recruit the next head of the governing authority?
Managing Change
  • Does the governing authority have a clear understanding of the major forces affecting the museum’s ability to succeed, and are they responding effectively to these challenges?
Governing Authority/Staff Composition
  • Does the governing authority have the diversity of representation, skills and resources needed to help the museum achieve success?
  • Does the staff have the diversity of representation, skills and resources needed to help the museum achieve success?
Building a Strong Relationship between the Director and the Head of the Governing Authority
  • Do the director and head of governing authority work together effectively?
  • Does the governing authority create a supportive working environment for the director?

Structure and Function

Bylaws/Organizing Documents/Committee Structure
  • Does the museum’s documentation adequately establish the organization’s structure, function and delegation of authority?
  • Has the governing authority established a committee structure that is effective in addressing all major aspects of governance?
Roles and Responsibilities of the Governing Authority Members
  • Do members of the governing authority share a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities?
  • Do members of the governing authority understand and respect the distinction between the roles of the governing authority and staff members?
  • Are members of the governing authority knowledgeable about and do they effectively represent the needs of the museum’s audiences and community?
  • Does the governing authority expect members to serve as ambassadors to the community, as advocates to other organizations and agencies? Are these expectations clearly communicated?
  • Does the governing authority establish appropriate guidelines for its members concerning financial support of the museum, and do all members fulfill this expectation?
  • Does the governing authority expect members to volunteer time and expertise to the museum? Are these expectations clearly communicated? 
Size, Composition and Tenure of the Governing Authority
  • Is the size and structure of the governing authority serving the needs of the museum?
  • Does membership of the governing authority have a rate of turnover that provides an appropriate mix of new perspectives and energy as well as continuity and experience?
Relationships with Supporting Groups
  • If the museum has supporting groups that significantly influence governance of the organization, has the museum’s governing authority clearly defined the nature and scope of these relationships? 
  • Do the museum’s relationships with these groups function to the benefit of the museum?
Relationship to Parent Organization
  • If the museum is part of a larger organization, does the governing authority or advisory board have an effective working relationship with the parent organization?
Running Effective Meetings/Time Management
  • Is the governing authority spending the majority of its time and effort on issues that are key to the success of the organization?
  • Does the governing authority have the necessary and appropriate information it needs for effective decision-making?
Evaluation of the Governing Authority’s Performance
  • Has the governing authority established procedures for evaluating its own performance, and is it using the information from that evaluation process to make improvements?
Recruiting, Training and Orienting Members of the Governing Authority
  • Does the governing authority have an effective process to select and recruit new members?
  • Are new members of the governing authority provided with a comprehensive orientation to the museum, its mission, vision, goals and plans?
  • Are new members of the governing authority provided with a comprehensive orientation to their roles and responsibilities, and what is expected of them in terms of time and financial commitment?
Hiring and Evaluating the Director
  • Does the governing authority have a clearly defined process for identifying and recruiting a new director?
  • Does the governing authority have a systematic, fair and supportive process for evaluating the director on a regular basis?

Resource Management

Fiduciary Responsibilities
  • Is the governing authority exercising prudent fiscal oversight of the museum?
  • Does the governing authority demonstrate a sound understanding of the museum’s financial position and  financial needs?
  • Does the governing authority engage in effective financial planning?
  • Does the governing authority exercising prudent oversight of the museum’s buildings and grounds?
Collections Stewardship
  • Does the governing authority demonstrate a clear understanding of its stewardship responsibilities regarding the museum’s collections?
  • Is the governing authority exercising prudent oversight of the museum’s collections?
Human Resources
  • Has the governing authority supported the creation of a comprehensive and equitable system of employee recruitment, evaluation and compensation?
  • Has the governing authority approved a comprehensive personnel policies manual that addresses compliance with major employment laws, employment classifications and definitions, hours of work, performance evaluations and salary review, leaves of absence, disciplinary action and grievance procedures, and termination of employment? 

Public Accountability

Ethics/Conflict of Interest
  • Does the governing authority demonstrate a sound understanding of the ethical standards for museums and for governance of a nonprofit?
  • Does it conduct itself in accordance with those standards?
  • Has the governing authority created written policies and procedures to identify and resolve potential conflicts of interest?
Furthering the Museum’s Public-Service Role
  • Does the governing authority demonstrate a commitment to the museum’s role in serving the public?
  • Does the governing authority devote leadership and financial resources to strengthening the public dimension of the museum?
  • Does the governing authority work to educate the public on the museum’s mission and the outcomes it has achieved?
Reflecting and Representing the Needs of the Museum’s Audiences
  • Does the governing authority demonstrate leadership in developing diversity by diversifying its own membership in order to assure a breadth of perspective?
  • Does the governing authority solicit input from the museum’s audiences when evaluating the museum’s  performance and planning for its future?
Community Relations
  • Does the governing authority encourage the museum to engage in active, ongoing, collaborative efforts with a wide spectrum of organizations and individuals who can contribute to the expansion of  the museum’s public dimension?

Report Writing Guide

Each section below presents a set of guiding statements/questions to consider. Respond only to points that are most relevant to the institution. Be sure to provide an analysis of the museum’s strengths and weaknesses. For each section, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How is or isn’t it working well?  
  2. How is it meeting best practices?
  3. What would you recommend?
Offer constructive criticism along with suggestions for resolution. Benchmark the institution’s current state 

of affairs in regards to national standards and best practices. 

Title Page (1 page)

Include institution name, city, state; assessment type; visit dates; and peer reviewer’s name, title, institution.

Table of Contents (Optional; 1 page)

Executive Summary (1 page)

Provide a broad summary of the report including background information, significant observations, identified strengths, areas needing improvement and key recommendations.

Introduction (1/2 page)

Define MAP and its benefits. State the circumstances of your site visit—dates of the visit and with whom you met (attach a copy of longer agendas in the appendix). List the museum’s goals for the assessment and any notable changes since the completion of their application and self-study workbook.

Brief Institutional History (1/2 page)

Provide the institution’s historical and physical context. Include a brief description of the museum’s current situation and important elements from its past (e.g., date founded, museum’s purpose, overview of exhibitions/collections, program highlights, etc.).

Vision and Leadership (3-4 pages)

Evaluate the institution’s mission statement for clarity of purpose and the governing authority’s understandings of the mission as a guide post for activities and decision-making. Review/assess any written institutional plans and comment on its appropriateness and the measures established to determine its success in fulfilling educational/financial goals and community need. Assess the governing authority’s practices for maintaining continuity in leadership (e.g., CEO turnover) and supporting the organization during times of change. Provide recommendations for how the museum can further strengthen its mission and institutional planning process.

Structure and Function (3-4 pages)

Evaluate the composition and functionality of the governing authority as it relates to its oversight of the organization. Give a sense of committee structure and evidence of formal written expectations outlining roles and responsibilities, recruitment, training, orientation and evaluation. What are your findings? How does the governing authority represent the needs of the museums’ audiences, community and promoting the museum (i.e. board diversity, fund/friend-raising, etc.)? How might the governing authority improve the organization’s systems/practices to better fulfill its mission?

Resource Management (3-4 pages)

Evaluate the governing authority’s knowledge and oversight of the organization’s financial needs and status. Provide an assessment of the governing authority’s shared understanding of the significance of the collections and its role in fulfilling the mission. Report on governing authority members’ mutual understanding of their roles as stewards of the collection. Include a review of the organization’s human resources and use of its facilities. Are these areas sufficient and suited to the needs of the museum? Identify strengths/weaknesses of the museum’s resource management and offer suggestions for improvement.

Public Accountability (3-4 pages)

Review any documents that have been established by the governing authority that articulate the museum’s  understanding of ethical standards and that identify/resolve potential conflicts of interests. How does the governing authority demonstrate its understanding of public accountability, and what measures are taken to inform the public?What are its strengths/weaknesses, and what would you recommend for improvements?

Summary (1 page)

Summarize the major observations and recommendations of the report.

Recommendations (1-2 pages)

Provide a prioritized (if possible) list of all recommendations cited throughout the report.

Resources (1-2 pages)

Support your recommendations by providing a list of relevant books, articles, organizations, websites, etc., that you think will assist the organization in executing its plans.

Appendices (as needed)

Include sample documents or printed resources that support information you have provided in the report. AVERAGE REPORT LENGTH: 15-25 pages double spaced; 12-20 pages single spaced

Organizing & Writing the Report

  • Organize your site-visit notes upon your return.
  • Re-familiarize yourself with the Self-Study Workbook and documentation.
  • Focus the report—organize your notes and thoughts within the designated headings.
  • Consider your intended audience(s) for the report as identified by the museum—staff, governing authority, donors and potential funders, community leaders and other stakeholders.
  • Don’t assume—provide enough detail for those not privy to the MAP process, but be concise.
  • Be cognizant of tone—the use of euphemisms and colloquial language can be misinterpreted.
  • Provide a balanced presentation of strengths and weaknesses of the institution.

Submitting the Report:

  • Reports should be created and submitted as a Word document.
  • Double-check all facts and proofread the text carefully.
  • Send your report to the MAP office and not the museum. MAP staff reviews all reports before sending to the museum.
  • Be timely. Reports should be e-mailed to the MAP office within four weeks of the site visit.
If you have any questions or need additional resources, please contact MAP staff at 202-289-9118 or map@

aam-us.org.