Be a Framer

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Leaders are like parents. Parents establish frames about what is right and wrong and what they expect from their children. Similarly, good leaders establish clear boundaries, standards of conduct, and challenging goals that everyone must strive to meet.

Michael Cherkasky, former CEO of Marsh & McLennan, maintains that the distinguishing characteristic of an excellent leader is an ability to identify what is most important from the range of issues that are vying for attention. Companies do not have the luxury to squander energy and resources on nonessential directives. Cherkasky’s tip is focus on the real problems and pursue them with stubborn zeal.

But these skills should be transfered to the lower ranks. Good leaders establish good frames so each individual employee knows what is important. Similarly, a good framework for action will give workers cues to the most appropriate action to take and the likely consequences should things happen or not happen as expected. Thus, by establishing the right framework, a good leader can make employees more effective and productive.

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