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doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others” (Rossiter, 1966).

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Groups typically possess diverse resources, ideas, and outlooks. A group that sees diversity as an asset and a source of learning has a good chance for a productive discussion and resolution of differences. Con”ict can be a good thing—con”ict about ideas promotes effectiveness, even though personal con”ict gets in the way (Cohen and Bailey, 1997). In the heat of the moment, though, a !ve-person group can easily turn into !ve teachers in search of a learner or a lynch mob in search of a victim. At such times, it helps if at least one person asks, “Are we all sure we’re infallible? Are we really hearing one another?”

Treat differences as a group responsibility. If Tony and Karen are on a collision course, it is tempting for others to stand aside. But all will suffer if the team fails. The debate between Karen and Tony re”ects personal feelings and preferences but also addresses leadership as an issue of shared importance.

Leadership and Decision Making in Groups A !nal problem that every groupmust resolve is the question of navigation: “Howwill we set a course and steer the ship, particularly in stormy weather?”Groups often get lost. Meetings are punctuated with statements like “I’mnot sure where we’re going” or “Does anyone know what we’re talking about?”

Leadership helps groups develop a shared sense of direction and commitment. Other- wise, a group becomes rudderless or moves in directions that no one supports. Noting that teams are capable of very good and very bad performance, Hackman emphasizes that a key function of leadership is setting a compelling direction for the team’s work that “is challenging, energizes teammembers and generates strong collective motivation to perform well” (2002, p. 72). Another key function of leadership in groups, as in organizations, is managing relationships with external constituents. Druskat and Wheeler found that effective leaders of self-managing teams “move back and forth across boundaries to build relationships, scout necessary information, persuade their teams and outside constituents to support one another, and empower their teams to achieve success” (2003, p. 435).

Still a third key leadership function is helping the group manage time. Maruping et al. (2015) found that time pressure hurts team performance when it is badly managed and leads to last-minute chaos and panic. But time pressure improves performance when leadership helps the group organize to deal with it through “scheduling of interim milestones, synchronization of tasks, and restructuring of priorities. These efforts result in higher team performance” (Maruping et al., 2015, p. 2014).

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Though leadership is essential, it need not come from only one person. A single leader focuses responsibility and clari!es accountability. But the same individual may not be equally effective for all tasks and circumstances. Groups sometimes do better with a shared and “uid approach, regularly asking, “Who can best take charge in this situation?” Katzenbach and Smith (1993) discovered that a key characteristic of high-performance teams was mutual accountability, fostered when leaders were willing to step back and team members were prepared to share the leadership.

Leadership, whether shared or individual, plays a critical role in group effectiveness and individual satisfaction. Leaders who overcontrol or understructure tend to produce frustration and ineffectiveness (Maier, 1967). Good leaders are sensitive to both task and process. They enlist others actively in managing both. Effective leaders help group members communicate, work together, and do what they are there to do. Less-effective leaders try to dominate and get their own ideas accepted.

CONCLUSION Employees hire on to do a job but always bring social and personal baggage with them. At work, they spend much of their time interacting with others, one to one and in groups. Both individual satisfaction and organizational effectiveness depend heavily on the quality of interpersonal relationships and team dynamics.

Individuals’ social skills are a critical element in the effectiveness of relationships at work. Interpersonal dynamics are counterproductive as often as not. People frequently employ theories-in-use (behavioral programs) that emphasize self-protection and the control of others. Argyris and Schön developed an alternative model built on values of mutuality and learning. Salovey and Mayer, as well as Goleman, underscore the importance of emotional intelligence—social skills that include awareness of self and others and the ability to handle emotions and relationships.

Small groups are often condemned for wasting time while producing little, but groups can be both satisfying and ef!cient. In any event, organizations cannot function without them. Managers need to understand that groups always operate at two levels: task and process. Both levels need to be considered if groups are to be effective. Among the signi!cant process issues that groups have to manage are informal roles, group norms, interpersonal con”ict, and leadership.

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The Political Frame

When you ponder the word politics, what images come to mind? Are any of them positive or helpful? For many people, the answer is no. Around the globe, politics and politicians are widely despised and viewed as an unavoidable evil. In organizations, phrases like “they’re playing politics” or “it was all political” are invariably terms of disapproval.

Similar attitudes surround the idea of power, a concept that is central in political thinking. In her last interview, only days before she was assassinated in December 2007, Benazir Bhutto was asked whether she liked power. Her response captured the mixed feelings many of us harbor: “Power has made me suffer too much. In reality I’m ambivalent about it. It interests me because it makes it possible to change things. But it’s left me with a bitter taste” (Lagarde, 2008, p. 13).

A jaundiced view of politics constitutes a serious threat to individual and organizational effectiveness. Viewed from the political frame, politics is the realistic process of making decisions and allocating resources in a context of scarcity and divergent interests. This view puts politics at the heart of decision making.

We introduce the elements of the political frame in Chapter 9. We begin by examining the dynamics lurking behind the tragic losses of the space shuttles Columbia and Challenger. We also lay out the perspective’s key assumptions and discuss basic issues of power, con!ict, and ethics.

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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In Chapter 10, we look at the constructive side of politics. The chapter is organized around basic skills of the effective organizational politician: setting agendas, mapping the political terrain, networking, building coalitions, and negotiating. We also offer four principles of moral judgment to guide in dealing with ethically slippery political issues.

Chapter 11 moves from the individual to the organization. We look at organizations as both arenas for political contests and active political players or actors. As arenas, organizations play an important role in shaping the rules of the game. As players or actors, organizations are powerful tools for achieving the agenda of whoever controls them. We close with a discussion of the relative power of organizations and society. Will giant corporations take over the world? Or will other institutions channel and constrain their actions?

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9 c h a p t e r

Power, Con!ict, and Coalition

Politics [is] a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.

—Ambrose Bierce

Early in the morning of February 1, 2003, the U.S. space shuttle Columbia was returning to earth from a smooth and successful mission. Suddenly

something went terribly wrong. The crew was !ooded with emergency signals—the noise of alarms and the glare of indicator lights signaling massive system failure. The craft tumbled out of control and was “nally blown apart. Cabin and crew were destroyed (Wald and Schwartz, 2003a, 2003b).

After months of investigation, a blue-ribbon commission concluded that Columbia’s loss resulted as much from organizational as technical failures. Breakdowns included: “the original compromises that were required to gain approval for the shuttle, subsequent years of resource-constraints, !uctuating priorities, schedule pressures, mischaracterization of the shuttle as operational rather than developmental, and lack of an agreed national vision for human space !ight” (Columbia Accident Investigation Board, 2003, p. 9).

In short, politics brought down the shuttle. It all sounded sadly familiar, and the investigation board emphasized that there were many “echoes” of the loss of the space shuttleChallenger 17 years earlier. Then, too, Congressional committees and a distinguished panel had spent months studying what happened and developing recommendations to keep


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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it from happening again. But as the Columbia board said bluntly: “The causes of the institutional failure responsible for Challenger have not been “xed” (Columbia Accident Investigation Board, 2003, p. 195).

Flash back to 1986. After a series of delays, Challenger was set to launch on January 28. At sunrise, it was clear but very cold at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The weather was more like NewHampshire, where Christa McAuliffe was a high school teacher. Curtains of ice greeted ground crews as they inspected the shuttle. The temperature had plunged overnight to a record low of 24 degrees Fahrenheit (–4 degrees Celsius). Temperatures gradually warmed, but it was still brisk at 8:30 AM. Challenger’s crew of seven astronauts noted the ice as they climbed into the capsule. As McAuliffe, the “rst teacher to venture into space, entered the ship, a technician offered her an apple. She beamed and asked him to save it until she returned. At 11:38 AM, Challenger lifted off. A minute later, there was a massive explosion in the booster rockets. Millions watched their television screens in horror as the shuttle and its crew were destroyed.

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