Reframing Academic Leadership
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"Colleges and universities constitute a special type of organization; and their complex mission, dynamics, personnel structures, and values require a distinct set of understandings and skills to lead and manage them well."
From the Preface

In Reframing Academic Leadership, Lee G. Bolman and Joan V. Gallos offer higher education leaders a provocative and pragmatic guide for

  • Crafting dynamic institutions where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts
  • Creating campus environments that facilitate creativity and commitment
  • Forging alliances and partnerships in service of the mission
  • Building shared vision and campus cultures that unite and inspire
  • Serving the larger goals of the academy and society

Throughout the book, the authors integrate powerful conceptual frameworks with rich and compelling real-world cases to support academic leaders searching for the best in themselves and in their institutions. The book tackles thorny issues such as building institutional clarity and capacity, managing conflict, coping with difficult people, partnering with the boss, and developing leadership resilience.

Following in the tradition of Bolman and Deal's classic Reframing Organizations, Bolman and Gallos emphasize a pragmatic approach. They tease out the unique challenges and opportunities in academic leadership and provide ideas, tools, and encouragement to help higher education leaders see more clearly, feel more confident, and become more skilled and versatile in handling the vicissitudes of daily life. Reframing Academic Leadership is the resource for those seeking to understand, develop, and manage colleges and universities.


Lee G. Bolman holds the Marion Bloch/Missouri Chair in Leadership at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is the coauthor of the best-selling books Reframing Organizations and Leading with Soul from Jossey-Bass.

Joan V. Gallos is professor of leadership, University of Missouri Curators' Distinguished Teaching Professor, and director of the Executive MBA program at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is the coauthor of Teaching Diversity and the editor of Organization Development: A Jossey-Bass Reader and Business Leadership: A Jossey-Bass Reader, Second Edition, all from Jossey-Bass.



About the Authors.

Part I Leadership Epistemology: When You Understand, You Know What to Do.

1. Opportunities and Challenges in Academic Leadership.

2. Sensemaking and the Power of Reframing.

3. Knowing What You’re Doing: Learning, Authenticity, and Theories for Action.

Part II Reframing Leadership Challenges.

4. Building Clarity and Capacity: Leader as Analyst and Architect.

5. Respecting and Managing Differences: Leader as Compassionate Politician.

6. Fostering a Caring and Productive Campus: Leader as Servant, Catalyst, and Coach.

7. Keeping the Faith and Celebrating the Mission: Leader as Prophet and Artist.

Part III Sustaining Higher Education Leaders: Courage and Hope.

8. Managing Conflict.

9. Leading from the Middle.

10. Leading Difficult People.

11. Managing Your Boss.

12. Sustaining Health and Vitality.

13. Feeding the Soul.

Epilogue: The Sacred Nature of Academic Leadership.


Name Index.

Subject Index.


"Reframing Academic Leadership is the most comprehensive book on the topic and an excellent source of knowledge for faculty and managerial leaders in every college and university. Bolman and Gallos effectively combine the principles and practices of effective leadership with many rich examples and stories of leadership in practice. An invaluable resource for students of higher education leadership!"
Maureen Sullivan, professor of practice, Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science, and 2010 Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Librarian of the Year

"Reframing Academic Leadership provides a compassionate understanding of the stresses of serving in a leadership capacity in higher education. It is an excellent book for those already serving as administrators in colleges and universities and for those who aspire to these positions. It offers insights to those who do not fully appreciate why higher education is so hard to ‘manage’ and validation for those entirely familiar with this world. I recommend it enthusiastically to both audiences as an excellent blend of theoretical ideas and practical applications."
Judith Block McLaughlin, senior lecturer on education, director of the Higher Education Program, and educational chair for the Harvard Seminar for New Presidents, Harvard Graduate School of Education

"In Reframing Academic Leadership, Bolman and Gallos provide a refreshing view of leadership essential for those who are assuming presidencies and other important leadership positions in higher education as well as those who bring more conceptual and practical experiences. No sooner had I read their work when their notion of thinking outside the box and elevating the level of discussion through ‘reframing’ was most useful in resolving a board-related issue that I was facing in my first year as president of my institution. This work by Bolman and Gallos is a bedside reference for aspiring and current leaders in higher education not only in the U.S. but also abroad."
Fernando Leon Garcia, rector, Sistema CETYS Universidad, Baja California, Mexico

"Too often, higher education administrators understand neither the organizations they lead, nor the theories that provide them with knowledge they can apply to this complex task. Bolman and Gallos have written a practical, lucid text that brings together illustrative vignettes and robust frameworks for diagnosing and managing colleges and universities. I recommend this book to new and experienced higher education administrators who will routinely confront difficult people, structures, and cultures in their workplaces."
Christopher Morphew, professor and chair, Educational Policy and Leadership Studies, College of Education, University of Iowa

"Reframing Academic Leadership is a gem, filled with examples from days leaders really have. So much of what the authors espouse is musical: the book reads like an effective guide for leading a chamber music rehearsal, where one’s role constantly shifts from star to servant and where multiple answers may be 'right.' Very cool."
Peter Witte, dean, Conservatory of Music and Dance, University of Missouri-Kansas City