Bolman and Deal's Four Framework Approach to Leadership
Objective: To show that there is more than one behavioral mode for leaders.
Time: 45 minutes
Instructions: Divide the class into small groups. Have them discuss the situations listed below and decide what behavioral framework would be the best to operate out of and why.
Note: There is no correct answer. The activity is to show that there are always at least four approaches to take for each situation. A leader has to decide which approach or combination of approaches would work best for the present situation.
After the groups have discussed their choices, bring the groups back together and compare and discuss their answers.
Note: For information on this framework, see the Four Framework Approach.
Structural, Human Resource, Political, or Symbolic?
Bolman and Deal's Four Framework consists of:
- Structural Framework - Social architect whose leadership style is analysis and design - focus on structure, strategy, environment, implementation, experimentation, and adaptation.
- Human Resource Framework - Catalyst and servant whose leadership style is support, advocate, and empowerment - visible and accessible; they empower, increase participation, support, share information, and move decision making down into the organization.
- Political Framework - Advocate, whose leadership style is coalition and building - clarify what they want and what they can get; they assess the distribution of power and interests; they build linkages to other stakeholders; use persuasion first, then use negotiation and coercion only if necessary.
- Symbolic Framework - Prophet, whose leadership style is inspiration, view organizations as a stage or theater to play certain roles and give impressions; these leaders use symbols to capture attention; they try to frame experience by providing plausible interpretations of experiences; they discover and communicate a vision.
For each situation listed below, choose a framework(s) that would work best.
1. You and a friend have owned and operated a small business for the last two years. You have just taken on two large and important accounts. To meet the needs of these accounts, plus the ones you already have, you hire six new employees. Capital is tight and an important deadline is approaching.
2. You lead the production department in a manufacturing plant. It is a large company with divisions spread around the country. They have been in business for the past 15 years. Lately, the company has been starting to lag behind the competition. But, you are about to start producing an exciting new product which could put your company back in the lead. The product line requires new technology to produce and it is an extremely complicated procedure.
3. You have just been promoted to a supervisor after working as a clerk for the last three years. Many of your coworkers are happy for you, but you have heard that a couple of them are not pleased because they also applied for the job and they thought they were better suited for the position.
4. Like many retailers, your busiest time is during the Christmas holiday season. You manage the sales department and have brought on almost as many temporary workers as compared to your regular staff. They all need a lot of training to meet your company standards.
5. You lead a small group within the accounting department of a large corporation. The Chief Financial Officer and several of his key advisors have just been fired after an outside audit turned up several misappropriations.
6. You are a supervisor and your boss is a complete authoritarian (autocratic) manager. Some of your peers have a nick-name for this person, "The Little Dictator." You believe that the employees who work for you deserve better, so you have always been a buffer between the manager and them.
7. You lead a department of highly educated and skilled computer programmers. There is a shortage of these workers and they always seem to be moving on to other companies for either better pay, better benefits, a project that interest them, or to learn a new programming skill.
8. You lead a department of unskilled workers who work on an assembly line. They make just above minimum wage and are not highly motivated, yet your manager expects you to maintain a high production quota.
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