Reframing the Path to School Leadership by Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal. (2010). Review by Marc Copani and Valarie Torrence.

Reframing the Path to School Leadership
Bolman & Deal
Marc Copani & Valarie Torrence

Bolman & Deal’s book is a guide for teachers and building leaders. It is written using short vignettes. Each short story is centered on one school, a new principal, a new teacher, and a community of colleagues that have developed feelings of family, community and indifference.  The two newcomers bring enthusiasm and new ideas for change. The book is written in seven parts, 14 chapters and has a leadership lesson after each chapter.

Part I: A Pair of Rookies

  • Before change can take place relationships must be developed.
  • Be perceptive to spoken and unspoken cues,
  • Identify your go to people: these are your teacher leaders and staff who exhibit influence in the workplace and community.

This chapter explains how you should enter a new work location.  The author tells how to pay attention to the unspoken rules and how to identify the people who will help you be successful in your new work environment.

Part II: The Political Frame

  • Before effective change is implemented the political landscape must be identified and utilized.
  • A leader develops skills that will help effectively function within the political climate.

The leader is familiar with the workplace; they understand protocol and what needs to be addressed for change to be implemented effectively.

Part III: The Human Resource Frame

  • An effective leader surrounds themselves with knowledgeable staff members. They build on their strengths and share their expertise.
  • Effective leaders provide specific feedback to all stakeholders.

The leader begins the quest for change by developing relationships and establishing a community of trust.

Part IV: The Structural Frame

  • Effective leaders develop and implement a plan that charts out what the short and long-term goals are and those who need to be included in the decision-making, which changes school policies.
  • When change is implemented an effective leader assures that staff will experience small measures of success while moving toward long-term goals.

The leader is willing to accept suggestions and revise their plan when necessary. They include their staff in the planning and implementation process.

Part V: The Symbolic Frame

  • When success is accomplished it should be celebrated.  Celebrations help staff to stay motivated.
  • Culture is an important gauge how change is affecting the environment of the educational setting.

The authors explain the importance of culture and how it affects morale, attitude and results. It is important to identify and address any conflict and resolve any issues.

Part VI: Values, Ethics and Spirit

  • According to Covey change begins with the end in mind. Bolman & Deal (2010) state that change is most effective when it is built on the framework of four major issues 1) create a new structure 2) respond to the staff’s need and provide skills they may be lacking 3) manage conflict that change may cause and 4) develop a shared sense of meaning and a commitment toward the desired goals. Bolman and Deal describe this within the framework of political (planning), human resource, (relationships), structural (managing and implementing the plan) and symbolic (what does the organization represent and how it is known by others.

Part VII: The Torch Is Passed

  • Excellent leaders share their expertise with others. They have a clear understanding that a leader teaches others to continue the important work that they began.

“If you follow the well-traveled road you might arrive at a destination. If you cut a path, you may leave a trail.”  (Bolman & Deal, 2010, p. 133)


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