The Leader’s Lens: How Framing Shapes Our Teams

Have you ever noticed how two people can experience the same situation entirely differently? This is due, in part, to the concept of framing. In leadership, framing influences how teams perceive challenges, opportunities, and their own capabilities. Amy Edmondson emphasises the importance of leaders acting as “frame setters.

How does this work? Let’s imagine a leader presenting a project with a missed deadline. Framed negatively, the team might focus on blame and missed targets. This can lead to discouragement and a reluctance to take risks. However, a leader who frames the situation as a learning opportunity, highlighting the team’s effort and potential solutions, is far more likely to create a more positive and engaged environment.

When leaders create a psychologically safe space through positive framing, team members are more likely to speak up, share ideas, and admit mistakes. This fosters innovation and problem-solving, ultimately leading to better results.

So, how can leaders become better frame-setters? Here are three key dimensions to consider:

·      Leaders should position themselves as an enabler of solutions; it’s not all about them.
·      Be positive, not defensive. Instead of dwelling on the negative or creating fear, frame challenges as opportunities to learn, grow and deliver something great.
·      Recognise the team’s skills, ability to contribute and hard work, celebrating achievements, even if the final goal hasn’t been reached yet.

By effectively framing situations, leaders can shape their team’s perspective, cultivate a more positive and innovative work environment, and ultimately drive success.