Framing is a way to use language to manage meaning. It’s a way for leaders to influence how events are seen and understood. It involves the section and highlighting of one or more aspects of a subject while excluding others.
Framing is analogous to what a photographer does. The visual world that exists is essentially ambiguous. When the photographer aims a camera and focuses on a specific shot, she frames the photo. Others then see what she wanted them to see. They see her point of view. That is precisely what leaders do when they frame an issue. They choose which aspects or portion of the subject they want others to focus on and which portions they want to be excluded.
War and the Art of Framing: During World war II most military operations didn’t have names or if they did, they were not for public consumption such as a landing operation called ‘Operation Sledgehammer’. But in more recent years, political and military leaders have learned how to use language to frame war terminology so as to maximize public support and minimize oppositions.
The War against Iraq, which began in the spring of 2003, was called Operations Iraqi Freedom by the Bush administration. That label was not chosen arbitrarily. It was carefully selected to give the war an image of helping instead of hurting, the Iraqi people. And when it came to listing the countries supporting the US invasion of Iraq, the name selected was The Coalition of the willing. This label helped in distinguishing the willing (the British, for example) from the unwilling (the French or examples). Additional phrases like, weapons of mass destruction and shock and awe were carefully chosen to shape the public’s image of the Iraqi threat and the US ability to win the war. The selection of the wrong label can undermine a military effort. For instance, the US invasion in Afghanistan was originally called infinite Justice. But it soon became obvious to military leaders that this label carried religious connotations and that the United States was trying to claim God was on its side. So the effort was quickly renamed Enduring Freedom.
The administration of George W Bush has no monopoly on this game. Take a look at some of the other names given to some US military operations. The Pentagon for instance used the term Just Cause to describe its 1989-90 operations in Panama. Desert Shield for the 1990-91 Gulf war conflict and Restore Hope for its intervention in Somalia.
Maureen Baginski embodies the qualities of a transformational leader that is, she is a leader who inspires followers to transcend their own self interests and who is capable of having profound and extraordinary effect on followers. It’s true that Baginski faced some challenges, especially with the 56 filed office chiefs. But it is not uncommon for transformational leaders to encounter such opposition, especially during the early stages of their leadership role. We will discuss transformational leadership in more detail later. In addition to transformational leadership, we will contemporary leadership roles, challenges to the leaderships construct, and finally, how companies find and carte effective leaders. But first, let’s explore how effective leaders use farming to inspire ad influence their followers.
Martin Luther King Jr’s I Have a Dream speech largely shaped the civil rights movements. His words created an imagery of what a country would be like where racial prejudice no longer exited. What King did was frame the civil rights movement in a way so that others would see it the way he saw it.
Trial lawyers make their living by framing issues. Defense attorneys for instance, shape their arguments so as to get the jury to see their client in the most favorable terms. They include facts that the jury find their client not guilty. They exclude facts that might reflect unfavorably on their client. And they try to provide alternative interpretations to the facts that the prosecution argues makes their client guilty.