This is a sequel to Gail T. Fairhurst’s earlier book, The Art of Framing (1996), and in both she is brilliant when explaining how to position ideas in a context, within a frame-of-reference. “Creating the Language of Leadership” is this later book’s subtitle but by no means has she written this book solely for those who are C-level executives or members of a governing board. All organizations need leadership at all levels and in all areas. That is, they need people who recognize what must be done and understand how to get it done in collaboration with others who respect them and, more to the point, trust them.
The most successful leaders are those who attract and sustain the engagement of others with effective management of meaning. That is, they possess highly-developed verbal and non-verbal skills (e.g. body language, tone of voice). That was certainly true of Winston Churchill prior to and then throughout World War Two and, more recently, Martin Luther King, Jr. I was especially interested in what Fairhurst has to say about other leaders of lesser stature who nonetheless demonstrated great framing skills when sharing their thoughts and feelings on traumatic occasions. That is certainly true of President George Bush and Major Rudolph Giuliani after the attack of the World Trade Center. In their public statements, both shared harsh realities with effective communication as did Churchill and King before them.
More than two thousand years ago, Aristotle suggested that there are four levels of discourse: exposition (to explain), description (to make vivid), narration (to tell a story or explain a sequence), and argumentation (to convince with logic and/or evidence) . Each is most effective when whatever is shared is properly framed. Invoking a simile, it is presented in ways that resemble setting a table for a gourmet meal. Yes, framing creates a context within a frame-of-reference; it also ensures the desired impact as did Presi dent Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chats” did during the Great Depression in the 1930s.
With rigor and eloquence, Fairhurst discusses framing as (a) a skill, (b) a science, (c) an art form, (d) an emotional connection, (e) an ethical connection, (f) a context for leadership, and (g) a set of specific applications. It is noteworthy that a set of practice exercises accompanies the narrative in each chapter so the Fairhurst can sustain an interactive relationship with her reader. She also concluded each chapter with a summary of key pints that will facilitate, indeed expedite periodic review of those key points later. Readers will also welcome the “Glossary of Framing Terms” (Pages 209-215) and “Notes” to the Preface and all eight chapters (Pages 217-237). There is an additional “bonus”: the provision of Free Premium Content (i.e. 14 Framing Tools) that can be accessed online at http://www.josseybass.com/go/gailfairhurst, using the password “professional” when registering. Such content is a significant value-added benefit.
Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out three others. They are Robert B. Cialdini’s Influence: Science and Practice (5th Edition) and two authored by Annette Simmons: The Story Factor (2nd Revised Edition) and Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins: How to Use Your Own Stories to Communicate with Power and Impact.
I have written before about this simple concept: you get what you pay attention to. (read this earlier blog post). I am convinced that this is as true a maxim as you can find. What gets attention determines the areas in which progress is made. What is ignored goes downhill… pretty quickly.
My friend, Larry James, is a genuine expert on poverty issues. The CEO of CitySquare (formerly Central Dallas Ministries), Larry has a terrific blog. (Larry James Urban Daily: read it here). In a recent post, he excerpted an article about the fight against poverty in Brazil. Here’s a key portion:
Today, however, Brazil’s level of economic inequality is dropping at a faster rate than that of almost any other country. Between 2003 and 2009, the income of poor Brazilians has grown seven times as much as the income of rich Brazilians. Poverty has fallen during that time from 22 percent of the population to 7 percent.
Contrast this with the United States, where from 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the increase in Americans’ income went to the top 1 percent of earners.
Why is Brazil making such progress in its struggle against poverty? Because… this is what they are paying attention to. The people at the top pay attention to this problem – with serious focus.
Consider this portion of the inaugural address from the new President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, delivered Saturday, January 1, 2011. (find the full text here: )
My Dear Brazilians,
My government’s most determined fight will be to eradicate extreme poverty and create opportunities for all.
We have seen significant social mobility during President Lula’s two terms. But poverty still exists to shame our country and prevent us from affirming ourselves fully as a developed people.
I will not rest while there are Brazilians who have no food on their tables, while there are desperate families on the streets, while there are poor children abandoned to their own devices. Family unity lies in food, peace and happiness. This is the dream I will pursue!
This is not the isolated task of one government, but a commitment to be embraced by all society. For this, I humbly ask for the support of public and private institutions, of all the parties, business entities and workers, the universities, our young people, the press and all those who wish others well.
What do you pay attention to? Whatever it is, it is likely that that is the area where you will make the most progress.
Coming Next, February 4, for the First Friday Book Synopsis – The Orange Revolution, and All the Devils are Here
Nearly 120 gathered this morning for the January, 2011 First Friday Book Synopsis. Karl Krayer and I have been presenting these synopses/briefings on best-selling business books every month since April, 1998. This morning, Karl presented Buy-in by John Kotter, and I presented Power by Jeffrey Pfeffer. They were both practical, useful, important books. (Note: Karl’s handout had a terrific, valuable breakdown of the major objections, and solutions to meet these objections, for those seeking to get their ideas across).
You will be able to purchase our synopses, with audio + handout, in a couple of weeks on our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com. (Many other book presentations are available on the site).
For next month, Friday, February 4, Karl will present a synopsis of The Orange Revolution: How One Great Team Can Transform an Entire Organization by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton. (Free Press. 2010). You can read Bob Morris’ review of this book on our blog by clicking here.
I will present a synopsis of All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera. (Portfolio Hardcover. 2010). This book is currently #1 on the New York Times Hardcover Business Best-Sellers list, and is considered by many to be the top book regarding the financial crisis of 2008. (Note: one of the other top best sellers regarding this crisis is The Big Short by Michael Lewis. You can also purchase my synopsis of this book at our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com).
The First Friday Book Synopsis provides a great breakfast, in a spectacular setting (the Park City Club), with great networking, and substantive, useful content – all in a fast-paced gathering. If you will be in the DFW area on February 4, come join us. Registration will be open soon – in a day, or two, just click the Register Now! sunburst on our home page.