Posts Tagged with 'Leadership Skills'

Posted: July 17, 2014

Reframing as a Leadership Skill

As a practitioner whose purpose for being is to help individuals develop their leadership skills, I am always looking for new ways to build leadership competency that are simultaneously sophisticated and simple. To be useful, leadership tools and frameworks need to meet the leadership demands of organizations that are becoming more complex—as Gary Hamel puts it, leaders need to “manage seemingly irreconcilable trade-offs”—and new tools need to be easy to master and usable right away.

At Chelsea C-Suite Solutions, we are currently working with an organization that is transitioning from a regional profit-centric structure to a borderless, matrix structure. There are dynamics and issues new to many leaders, and no surprise, their instinct is to use traditionally effective approaches to solving problems. The result has been frustration, inefficiency, resistance to change, feelings of being overwhelmed, and in darker moments, fears of inadequacy in meeting these new challenges.

NEOHere’s an approach to help leaders that is incredibly simple—learn the art of reframing. What is often perceived as a “problem”—a situation with a unique right answer, might actually not be a problem at all. Maybe the organizational challenge is really an old “paradigm” that is no longer relevant or useful. Or maybe the situation is a “polarity”—a situation with two equally right answers that are interdependent—that needs to be “managed” by the leader, not solved. When leaders try to solve polarities, they (and everyone else) will get frustrated. When leaders try to solve a situation using an irrelevant paradigm, the result will be the same. Looked at another way, reframing actually frees up time by reducing the number of problems leaders are trying to “fix.”

The concept of a paradigm has been around a long time. Put simply, it is a way of seeing based on a shared set of assumptions. All mature organizations are full of paradigms. After all, they are extremely useful! They help us process a situation quickly in the moment, and consistently (e.g., the customer is always right). But when a paradigm is no longer useful, or irrelevant, we might be interpreting a situation as a problem incorrectly, and we could even be doing damage to the organization without realizing.

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