Institutional, structural, and systemic issues are very dif!cult for members of dominant groups to understand. Systems are most often designed by dominant group members to meet their own needs. It is then dif!cult to see the ways in which our institutions and structures systematically exclude others who are not “like us.” It is hard to see and question what we have always taken for granted and painful to confront personal complicity in maintaining the status quo. Privilege enables us to remain unaware of institutional and social forces and their impact (1997, p. 215).
Justice requires that leaders systematically enhance the power of excluded or vulnerable groups—ensuring access to decision making, creating internal advocacy groups, building diversity into information and incentive systems, and strengthening career opportunities (Cox, 1994; Gallos and Ramsey, 1997; Morrison, 1992). All this happens only with a rock- solid commitment from top management, the one condition that Morrison (1992) found to be universal in organizations that led in responding to diversity.
Justice also has important implications for the increasingly urgent question of “sustain- ability:” How long can a production or business process last before it collapses as a result of the resource depletion or environmental damage it produces? Decisions about sustainability inevitably involve trade-offs among the interests of constituencies that differ in role, place, and time. How do we balance our company’s pro!tability against damage to the environ- ment, or current concerns against those of future generations? Organizations with a commitment to justice will take these questions seriously and look for ways to engage and empower diverse stakeholders in making choices.
The Temple: Faith and Signi!cance An organization, like a temple, can be seen as a hallowed place, an expression of human aspirations and beliefs, a monument to faith in human possibility. A temple is a gathering place for a community of people with shared traditions, values, and beliefs. Members of a community may be diverse in many ways (age, background, economic status, personal interests), but they are tied together by shared faith and bonded by a sancti!ed spiritual covenant. In work organizations, faith is strengthened if individuals feel the organization is characterized by excellence, caring, and justice. Above all, people must believe that the
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organization is doing something worth doing—a calling that adds something of value to the world, making a difference. Signi!cance is partly about the work itself but even more about how the work is embraced. This point is made by an old story about three stonemasons giving an account of their work. The !rst said he was “cutting stone.” The second said that he was “building a cathedral.” The third said simply that he was “serving God.”
Temples need spiritual leaders. This does not mean promoting religion or a particular theology; rather, it means bringing a genuine concern for the human spirit. The dictionary de!nes spirit as “the intelligent or immaterial part of man,” “the animating or vital principle in living things,” and “the moral nature of humanity.” Spiritual leaders help people !nd meaning and faith in work and help them answer fundamental questions that have confronted humans of every time and place: Who am I as an individual? Who are we as a people? What is the purpose of my life, of our collective existence? What ethical principles should we follow? What legacy will we leave?
Spiritual leaders offer the gift of signi!cance, rooted in con!dence that the work is precious, that devotion and loyalty to a beloved institution can offer hard-to-emulate intangible rewards. Work is exhilarating and joyful at its best, arduous, frustrating, and exhausting in less happy moments. Many adults embark on their careers with enthusiasm, con!dence, and a desire to make a contribution. Some never lose that spark, but many do. They become frustrated with sterile or toxic working conditions and discouraged by how hard it is to make a difference, or even to know if they have made one. Tracy Kidder puts it well in writing about teachers: “Good teachers put snags in the river of children passing by, and over time, they redirect hundreds of lives. There is an innocence that conspires to hold humanity together, and it is made up of people who can never fully know the good they have done” (Kidder, 1989, p. 313). The gift of signi!cance helps people sustain their faith rather than burn out or retire from a meaningless job and end up wondering if their work made any difference at all.
Signi!cance is built through the use of many expressive and symbolic forms: rituals, ceremonies, stories, and music. An organization without a rich symbolic life grows empty and barren. Themagic of special occasions is vital in building signi!cance into collective life. Moments of ecstasy are parentheses that mark life’s major passages. Without ritual and ceremony, transition remains incomplete, a clutter of comings and goings; “life becomes an endless set of Wednesdays” (Campbell, 1983, p. 5).
When ritual and ceremony are authentic and attuned, they !re the imagination, evoke insight, and touch the heart. Ceremony weaves past, present, and future into life’s ongoing tapestry. Ritual helps us face and comprehend life’s everyday shocks, triumphs, and mysteries. Both help us experience the unseen web of signi!cance that ties a community
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together. When inauthentic, such occasions become meaningless, repetitious, and alienat- ing—wasting our time, disconnecting us from work, and splintering us from one another. “Community must become more than just gathering the troops, telling the stories, and remembering things past. Community must also be rooted in values that do not fail, values that go beyond the self-aggrandizement of human leaders” (Grif!n, 1993, p. 178).
Stories give “esh to shared values and sacred beliefs. Everyday life in organizations brings many heartwarming moments, dramatic encounters, and rib-splitting, humorous screw- ups. Transformed into stories, these events !ll an organization’s treasure chest with lore and legend. Told and retold, they draw people together and connect them with the signi!cance of their work.
Music captures and expresses life’s deeper meaning. When people sing or dance together, they bond to one another and experience emotional connections otherwise hard to express. The late Harry Quadracci, chief executive of!cer of the printing company Quadgraphics, convened employees once a year for an annual gathering. A management chorus sang the year’s themes. Quadracci himself voiced the company philosophy in a solo serenade.
Max DePree, famed both as both a business leader and an author of elegant books on leadership, is clear about the role of faith in business: “Being faithful is more important than being successful. Corporations can and should have a redemptive purpose. We need to weigh the pragmatic in the clarifying light of the moral. We must understand that reaching our potential is more important than reaching our goals” (1989, p. 69). Spiritual leaders have the responsibility of sustaining and encouraging their own faith and recalling others to the faith when they have wandered away.
CONCLUSION Ethics ultimately must be rooted in soul: an organization’s commitment to deeply rooted identity, beliefs, and values. Each frame offers a perspective on the ethical responsibilities of organizations and the moral authority of leaders. Every organization needs to evolve for itself a profound sense of its own ethical and spiritual core. The frames offer spiritual guidelines for the quest.
Signs are everywhere that institutions around the globe suffer from crises of meaning and moral authority. Rapid change, high mobility, globalization, and racial, ideological, and ethnic con”ict tear at the fabric of community. The most important responsibility of leaders is not to answer every question or get every decision right. They cannot escape their responsibility to track budgets, motivate people, respond to political pressures, and attend to
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culture, but they serve a deeper and more enduring role if they are models and catalysts for values like excellence, caring, justice, and faith.
Note 1. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act is of!cially the Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor
Protection Act of 2002.
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20 c h a p t e r
Bringing It All Together Change and Leadership in Action
We can’t always control the music life plays for us but we can choose how we dance to it.
Life’s daily challenges rarely arrive clearly labeled or neatly packaged. Instead, they come upon us in a murky, turbulent, and unrelenting !ood.
The art of reframing uses knowledge and intuition to read the !ow and to “nd sensible and effective ways to channel the incoming tide.
In this chapter, we illustrate the process by following a new principal through his “rst week in a deeply troubled urban high school. Had this been a corporation in crisis, a struggling hospital, or an embattled public agency, the basic leadership issues would have been much the same. Our protagonist is familiar with the frames and reframing. Howmight he use what he knows to “gure out what’s going on?What strategies can he mull over?What will he do?
Read the case thoughtfully.! Ask yourself what you think is going on and what options you would consider. Then compare your re!ections with his.
! From Harvard Business School case study, copyright © 1974 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Harvard Business Case #9-474-183. This case was prepared by J. Gabarro as the basis for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of an administrative situation. Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business School.
Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership, Sixth Edition. Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal. ! 2017 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Published 2017 by Jossey-Bass.
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ROBERT F. KENNEDY HIGH SCHOOL On July 15, David King became principal of Robert F. KennedyHigh School, the newest of six high schools in Great Ridge, Illinois. The school had opened two years earlier amid national acclaim as one of the “rst schools in the country designed and built on the “house system”
concept. Kennedy High was organized into four “houses,” each with 300 students, 18 faculty, and a housemaster. Each house was in a separate building connected to the “core facilities”— cafeteria, nurse’s room, guidance of”ces, boys’ and girls’ gyms, of”ces, shops, and audito- rium—and other houses by an enclosed outside passageway. Each had its own entrance, classrooms, toilets, conference rooms, and housemaster’s of”ce. The building was widely admired for its beauty and functionality and had won several national architectural awards.
Hailed as a major innovation in urban education, Kennedy High was featured during its “rst year in a documentary on a Chicago television station. The school opened with a carefully selected staff of teachers, many chosen from other Great Ridge schools. At least a dozen were specially recruited from out of state. King knew that his faculty included graduates from several elite East Coast andWest Coast schools, such as Yale, Princeton, and Stanford, as well as several of the very best Midwestern schools. He knew, too, that the racial mix of students had been carefully balanced so that blacks, whites, and Latinos each made up a third of the student body. And King also knew—perhaps better than its planners—that Kennedy’s students were drawn from the toughest and poorest areas of the city.
Despite careful and elaborate preparations, Kennedy High School was in serious trouble by the time King arrived. It had been racked by violence the preceding year—closed twice by student disturbances and once by a teacher walkout. It was also widely reported (although King did not know whether this was true) that achievement scores of its ninth- and tenth- grade students had declined during the preceding two years, and no signi”cant improve- ment could be seen in the scores of the eleventh and twelfth graders’ tests. So far, Kennedy High School had fallen far short of its planners’ hopes and expectations.