Lifelong Learner & Reflective Practitioner

Lifelong Learner & Reflective Practitioner

Let's Transform Our Schools Into TRUE Professional Learning Communities

Let's Transform Our Schools Into TRUE Professional Learning Communities
In Your School- Do all stakeholders subscribe to the belief that EVERYONE has something to learn and EVERYONE has something to teach? This blog can help you gain insight on how to facilitate this transformative mindset with your faculty!

Jun 8, 2011

Leadership Models for Reframing Organizations

I just read Bolman and Deal's book, Reframing Organizations. In it, it offers four frameworks for looking at leadership and management. They are the structural frame, the political frame, the human resources frame, and the symbolic frame. Here's a summary of each:

The Structural Framework
The "structural" leader tries to design and implement a process or structure appropriate to the problem and the circumstances. This includes:
clarifying organizational goals
managing the external environment
developing a clear structure appropriate to task and environment
clarifying lines of authority
focusing on task, facts, logic, not personality and emotions
This approach is useful when goals and information are clear, when cause-effect relations are well understood, when technologies are strong and there is little conflict, low ambiguity, low uncertainty, and a stable legitimate authority.

The Human Resource Framework
The human resource leader views people as the heart of any organization and attempts to be responsive to needs and goals to gain commitment and loyalty. The emphasis is on support and empowerment. The HR manager listens well and communicates personal warmth and openness. This leader empowers people through participation and attempts to gain the resources people need to do a job well. HR managers confront when appropriate but try to do so in a supportive climate. This approach is appropriate when employee turnover is high or increasing or when employee morale is low or declining. In this approach resources should be relatively abundant; there should be relatively low conflict and low diversity.

The Political Framework
The political leader understands the political reality of organizations and can deal with it. He or she understands how important interest groups are, each with a separate agenda. This leader understands conflict and limited resources. This leader recognizes major constituencies and develops ties to their leadership. Conflict is managed as this leader builds power bases and uses power carefully. The leader creates arenas for negotiating differences and coming up with reasonable compromises. This leader also works at articulating what different groups have in common and helps to identify external "enemies" for groups to fight together. This approach is appropriate where resources are scarce or declining, where there is goal and value conflict, and where diversity is high.

The Symbolic Framework
This leader views vision and inspiration as critical; people need something to believe in. People will give loyalty to an organization that has a unique identity and makes them feel that what they do is really important. Symbolism is important as is ceremony and ritual to communicate a sense of organizational mission. These leaders tend to be very visible and energetic and manage by walking around. Often these leaders rely heavily on organizational traditions and values as a base for building a common vision and culture that provides cohesiveness and meaning. This approach seems to work best when goals and information are unclear and ambiguous, where cause-effect relations are poorly understood and where there is high cultural diversity.

Workplace application:
Although I can see some of all of these frames in my style of leadership, I would have to say that I have learned that I am primarily a symbolic leader. Because of my current work situation (being a fairly new member of the organization) I make it a point to listen to and share stories of the organization, to create a sense of purpose and "being part of something special", and to constantly analyze the relationships and dynamics within my building to be situationally aware. As a new leader in a school, I try not to mess with the culture of the school too much right now. Even if it needs to be changed, I typically try to respect the current culture and past traditions while taking a piecemeal approach to introducing new ideas for change. I believe that a new administrator to a school should, the first year, primarily focus on doing a cultural analyis of the school. It's important to just determine who the opinion leaders are, what the values and traditions are, and how things have been done in the past. When the time is right, you can be more assertive in introducing change initiatives. But by then, you will have listened and observed enough to know how to do this effectively. You have to be able to successfully determinine who is considered a hero, who others respect, and how you can use those individuals in a leadership capacity.