The purpose of the organization is… The objectives of the strategy are… The reason why we have restructured is…
From then on, any word used will dictate more than a few actions. What comes after is the frame, which is the same as saying the box, the borders, the spirit behind. So, for example, here are some frames: fixing, building, creating, protecting, solving, defending, and winning. Each word decides a set of values, a course of action.
Solving a poor customer relationship system is not the same as building a culture of customer-centrism.
Defending the brand is not the same as creating a community of brand fans.
Winning a position in the market is not the same as creating a market.
The frame dictates.
I can hear people saying that it is the other way around, that first is the intention, then strategy and then the words. But I see day after day the use of words that nobody knows exactly why they are used and that seem to be (vaguely?) related to the purpose. In many cases I know, the words have taken over. Perhaps irreversibly. In that case, words dictate, they are not dictated.
Words are cheap, their consequences are not.
Restructuring to align processes and systems better, to concentrate leadership and/or serve a customer sector in a better, more logical and more effective way, may be done for all those purposes, but simply heard as cost cutting and people leaving. The latter may be so, but in reality, a new structure (I am not making a judgement as to whether good or bad, sensible or not) is born. Taking this under the building mode, for example, may just create a completely different future. Building, as a forgotten frame, is a lost opportunity to align people on a new and exciting journey.
It is far from semantic games. Words dictate us, not the other way around. Words produce emotions, from excitement to boredom, from emotional engagement to cynicism, from possibilities gained to paradise lost.
Framing is a key skill for leaders. Poor leaders will take this as a word game that an advertising or consulting agency will craft for them. Good leaders will start with asking others around to choose a frame, to explore the consequences, decide and stick to it.
Taken from my soon to be released book, Camino – Leadership Notes On The Road.
For more thoughts on leadership – look out for my new book
Camino – Leadership Notes on the Road
Preview Chapter coming soon!
A collection of notes on leadership, initially written as Daily Thoughts as a way of talking to myself. Camino, the Spanish for road, or way, reflects on leadership as a praxis that continuously evolves. Nobody is ever a leader. Becoming one is the real quest. But we never reach the destination. Our character is constantly shaped by places and journeys, encounters and experiences. The only real theory of leadership is travelling. The only footprints, our actions. The only test, what we leave behind.