Leadership Framework Assessment
From 1991. Has anything changed in our fundamental views regarding leadership?
A short assessment you may be interested in doing:
Four Frameworks for Leadership: The Bolman/Deal Model
It may be useful to approach leadership from the point of view of four different “frameworks”. Circumstances determine which approach (s) is appropriate. Effective leaders may use a number of these approaches at the same time.
1. The Structural Framework
The “structural” manager tries to design and implement a process or structure appropriate to the problem and the circumstances. This includes:
a. to clarify organizational goals
b. manage the external environment
c. develop a clear structure appropriate to task, and environment
d. clarify lines of authority
e. focus 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.
2. The Human Resource Framework
The human resource manager 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 morale 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
Comparing the Four Frameworks
Each of the four frameworks approaches management tasks differently as can be seen in the following.
Structural: set objectives and coordinate resources
Human relations: promote participation
Political: arenas to air conflict and realign power
Symbolic: ritual to signal responsibility
Human relations: open process to produce commitment
Political: opportunity to gain or exercise power
Symbolic: ritual to provide comfort and support until decisions made
Structural: realign roles and responsibilities to fit tasks
Human relations: maintain a balance between
human needs and formal roles
Political: redistribute power and for new coalitions
Symbolic: maintain an image of accountability and responsiveness
Structural: formal control system for distributing rewards
Human relations: process for helping people grow and improve
Political: opportunity to exercise power
Symbolic: occasion to play roles in shared rituals
Structural: authorities resolve conflict
Human relations: develop relationships
Political: develop power by bargaining, forcing, or manipulating others
Symbolic: develop shared values
Structural: keep organization headed in right direction
Human relations: keep people involved and communications open
Political: provide opportunities for people and groups to make interests known
Symbolic: develop symbols and shared values
Structural: transmit facts and information
Human relations: exchange information, needs, and feelings
Political: vehicles for influencing or manipulating others
Symbolic: telling stories
Structural: formal occasions for making decisions
Human relations: informal occasions for involvement, sharing feelings
Political: competitive occasions to win points
Symbolic: sacred occasion to celebrate and transform the culture
Structural: social architect
Human relations: catalyst and servant
Symbolic: prophet and poet
Effective Leadership Process
Structural: analysis and design
Human relations: support and empowerment
Political: advocacy, coalition building
Symbolic: inspiration, framing experience
Structural: petty tyrant
Human relations: pushover
Symbolic: fanatic, fool
Ineffective leadership process
Structural: management by detail and fiat
Human relations: management by abdication
Symbolic: smoke and mirrors
Structural: change causing confusion; need to realign and renegotiate formal policies
Human relations: change can cause people to feel incompetent, powerless; need to develop new skills, involvement, support
Political: change creates winners and losers; need to create arenas where issues can be negotiated
Symbolic: change creates loss of meaning and purpose; people form attachments to symbols need symbolic healing
Structural: economic incentives
Human relations: growth and self-actualization
Political: coercion, manipulation, and seduction
Symbolic: symbols and celebrations
Choosing a Frame
There are times when any of the four frames is appropriate. The below suggests some ways of determining when each is appropriate
If commitment and motivation are important: human resources and symbolic
If there is ambiguity and uncertainty: Structural
If resources are scarce: structural, political, symbolic
If there is conflict and diversity of opinions: political and symbolic
If there is a top down approach: structural and human resources
Bolman, Lee G., and Terrence E. Deal, Reframing Organizations, Jossey-Bass, 1991.