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of legendary heroes and heroines. The present is troubled, a critical moment when we have tomake fateful choices. The future is a dreamlike vision of hope and greatness, often tied to past glories.

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A version of this story line helped Ronald Reagan, a master storyteller, become America’s thirty-ninth president. Reagan’s golden past was rooted in the frontier, a place of rugged, sturdy, self-reliant men and women who built a great nation. They took care of themselves and their neighbors without interference from a monstrous national gov- ernment. America had fallen into crisis, said Reagan, because “the liberals” had created a federal government that levied oppressive taxes and eroded freedom through bureau- cratic regulation and meddling. Reagan promised a return to American greatness by “getting government off the backs of the American people” and restoring traditional values of freedom and self-reliance. Reagan’s story line worked for him and for a Reagan acolyte, George W. Bush, in 2000. It worked still a third time in 2016 for Donald Trump. Trump did not spell out the golden past that was implicit in his campaign mantra “Make America great again.” But he was clear that America was in crisis because of a toxic combination of terrorism, uncontrolled immigration, increasing crime and violence, the loss of jobs to foreign competitors, and bad leadership in Washington. His vision for the future offered resolution of all those problems: “Together, we will lead our party back to the White House, and we will lead our country back to safety, prosperity, and peace. We will be a country of generosity and warmth. But we will also be a country of law and order” (Politico Staff, 2016).

Leaders’ stories succeed when they offer something that people want to believe, regardless of historical validity or empirical support. Even a “awed story will work if it taps persuasively into the experience, values, and hopes of listeners.

CONCLUSION Although leadership is universally accepted as a cure for social and organizational ills, it is also widely misunderstood. Many views of leadership fail to recognize its relational and contextual nature and its distinction from power and position. Shallow ideas about leadership mislead managers. A multiframe view provides a more comprehensive map of a complex and varied terrain.

Each frame highlights signi!cant possibilities for leadership, but each by itself is incomplete. A century ago, models of managerial leadership were narrowly rational. In the 1960s and 1970s, human resource leadership became fashionable. In recent years,

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symbolic and political leadership have become more prominent, and the literature abounds with advice on how to become a powerful or visionary leader. Ideally, managers combine multiple frames into a comprehensive approach to leadership. Wise leaders understand their own strengths, work to expand them, and build diverse teams that can offer an organization leadership in all four modes: structural, political, human resource, and symbolic.

Note 1. In the constitutional convention, delegates were divided over whether the president should be

selected by Congress or elected directly by the voters. The Electoral College was the compromise solution. Usually, the winner of the national popular vote wins the presidency, but there have been exceptions, including two in this century. In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote, and would have been president if he had carried Florida, which he lost by 537 votes out of almost 4 million total. In 2016, as we discuss, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes but lost in the electoral college when Donald Trump carried key swing states.

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18 c h a p t e r

Reframing Change in Organizations

There is no more delicate matter to take in hand, nor more dangerous to conduct, nor more doubtful

in its success, than to set up as a leader in the introduction of changes. For he who innovates will have for his enemies all those who are well off under the existing order of things,

and only the lukewarm support in those who might be better off under the new.

—Machiavelli, 1514, p.27

Running for president in 2008, Barack Obama ran on a platform promis- ing “change.” Running for reelection in 2012, President Obama defended

his record against Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign promise of “change.” And so it goes in one presidential race after another. In the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton promised both change and continuity with the policies of the popular incumbent, Obama. Donald Trump ran as an unabashed change candidate, promising a return to greatness. After the election, Trump supporters rejoiced and Clinton voters were horri!ed. Yet the status quo is often remarkably durable, hanging on until the next election and a renewed promise of change and hope.


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. 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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A similar pattern is observable in American businesses. When pro!ts dip, when employees become restless or when some other calamity looms, executives think about “pursuing a different path.” They scan prevailing ideas in “good currency” for the latest magical remedies to make things better. They do not always realize that many panaceas for solving problems have already been tried and found wanting. Henry Mintzberg, for example, was a proponent of strategic planning in the 1970s and 1980s as a more systematic way. In his 1994 book, The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning, he concluded: “. . . strategic planning did not work . . . the form (‘the rationality of planning’) did not conform to the function (‘the needs of strategy making’)” (p. 415). Countless other modern management theories and techniques have suffered a similar fate.

Successful change efforts often reach back to the past. In 1993, Lou Gerstner Jr., the new CEO of IBM, pulled the company out of a downward spiral by harking back to the time when TomWatson Sr. was CEO and IBM was the most admired company in the world. He reinvigorated old values and refurbished dormant cultural practices. Howard Schultz followed a similar path when Starbucks took a dive in 2007 (see Chapter 13). He made public his concern that the company had wandered from the cultural values and ways that enabled it to become a household name. He put Starbucks back on a path to growth and pro!tability and restored the spirit that had once made the company unique.

Yet clinging to the status quo can also sti”e progress. TheUnited States is one of only three nations that have not yet of!cially converted to the metric system. This seems odd, given that the United States has little in commonwith the other two holdouts—Liberia andMyanmar. It seems even stranger because the system was !rst of!cially authorized in the United States in 1866, and as far back as 1958, the Federal Register contained provisions that “all calibrations in theU.S. customary systemofweights andmeasurements carried out by theNational Bureauof Standards will continue to be based on metric measurement and standards.”

And it seems even more puzzling because in 1996 all federal agencies were ordered to adopt the metric system. Adhering to a thousand-year-old English system that even the English have been abandoning imposes many disadvantages. It handicaps international commerce, for example, and it led to measurement confusion in the design of the Hubble space telescope, costing taxpayers millions of dollars. Yet the United States has made little progress in goingmetric, despite cosmetic changes such as putting kilometers alongsidemiles on vehicle speedometers.

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