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Book Discussions at CDLC: Reframing Academic Leadership

Resources, schedules, and questions for CDLC book discussions.

About Reframing Academic Leadership

Our discussion of Reframing Academic Leadership by Lee Bolman and Joan Gallos is facilitated by Liz King, Associate Director at RPI and takes place over the course of 2 in-person and 3 online sessions, June 25 - August 23..

Anyone interested in navigating leadership roles in higher education, and/or developing and implementing successful projects within higher education institutions might find this interesting. Reframing Academic Leadership is a no-nonsense guide for academic administrators at all levels in colleges and universities and for those who seek to understand the unique challenges and opportunities in leading institutions of higher education today. This title has also been discussed at the annual Harvard Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians and the Library Senior Fellows at UCLA.

Due to the potentially sensitive nature of the material, Zoom meetings will not be recorded.  Attendees are asked to participate with audio (microphone) at a minimum but are encouraged to participate with video!

  • Tuesday, June 25, 2019 @ CDLC, Session 1: Introductions, chapters 1-3 
  • Tuesday, July 9, 2019 on ZOOM, Session 2: Introductions, chapters 4-5 
  • Tuesday, July 23, 2019 on ZOOM, Session 3: Introductions, chapters 6-7 
  • Thursday, August 15, 2019 on ZOOM, Session 4: Introductions, chapters 8-10 
  • Friday, August 23, 2019 @ CDLC, Session 5: Wrap-up, chapters 11-13 

Title Information

There are a few copies of this title available at CDLC member organizations but a number of copies available throughout NYS. Check with your Interlibrary Loan office to see you they are available to request.

The purchase price of this title ranges from $13 for the audiobook to $38 new.

Discussion Facilitator

Table of Contents

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

Resources for June 25

Date: Tuesday, June 25
Time: 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Location: In Person, CDLC Green Room​
Agenda: Introductions, identify attendees’ goals, knowledge outcomes, discussion of chapters 1, 2, and 3​
Preparation: Read Chapters 1, 2, and 3 (47 pgs)
Optional Activity: Take an online leadership quiz (e.g.

Questions to Consider:


  • What drew you to this book discussion? What do you hope to gain from the program?
  • In your experiences, who are some individuals whose leadership style(s) you have admired? What about their leadership style(s) worked?

Chapter 1

  • What leadership qualities do you possess? What about areas you’d like to strengthen?
  • What did you think about the following: “… it is easier to understand colleges and universities when you learn to think of them simultaneously as machines, families, jungles, and theaters.”

Chapter 2

  • How has “sensemaking” factored into your own professional experiences?
  • Discuss the five steps to building your reframing skills within the context of academic libraries: Can you identify obstacles specific to the field?

Chapter 3

  • Often our colleagues see us differently than how we see ourselves; how can we better understand how we are seen by others? Does learning about Model I vs. Model II help in any way?
  • Have you had experiences where you used one of the “four habits of learning for leadership effectiveness”? Is there something you would have done differently, in hindsight?
  • How do you identify trusted colleagues when it comes to growing as a leader?

Resources for July 9

Date: Tuesday, July 9
Time: 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Location: Zoom Call​
Agenda: Discussion of chapters 4 & 5​
Preparation: Read Chapters 4 & 5 (40 pgs)

Questions to Consider:

Chapter 4

  • Regarding "structural leadership," have you experienced institutional structural issues that challenge productivity? If so, were you able to find a solution or work-around (p. 51)?
  • Is it possible to bring structure to your own leadership and work when faced with larger institutional structural challenges (pp 53-54)?
  • Which time-management techniques have you found to be successful?
  • Discuss the idea of a "weak authority system" when it comes to partnering or collaborating with faculty (p 58).

Chapter 5

  • How do we overcome the jungle mentality of, "you're only out for yourself," and how it can be heightened by scarce resources (pp 71-72)?
  • Do you have techniques to balance the importance of patience with strategic goals and hard deadlines (p 75)?
  • Discuss the importance of "mapping the political terrain." Please share your personal successes and failures (pp 79-86)! (Remember that failure usually leads to more learning in the long run.)

Resources for July 23

Date: Tuesday, July 23
Time: 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Location: Zoom Call​
Agenda: Discussion of chapters 6 & 7​
Preparation: Read Chapters 6 & 7 (38 pgs)

Questions to Consider:

Chapter 6

  • Discuss the idea that "leaders inherit a history" (p 91). What are ways to navigate this?
  • Describe situations that have required you (or someone else) to step into the roles of servant, catalyst, and coach (p 92).
  • Would viewing your staff as an "extended family" change the way you understand their inter-personal dynamics (p 93)?
  • What resonated for you when reading about the following elements: open communication; empowerment; effective teams for collective action; support; coaching, and care; hiring the right people (pp 94 - 105)?

Chapter 7

  • Do you find yourself acting as a spiritual leader and/or spirited artist in your leadership role (p 109 - 110)?
  • What does "symbolic leadership" look like to you?
  • Have you ever faced difficulties navigating a strong culture (p 115)?
  • Will you be adjusting your leadership techniques based on the following concepts: building on the past for an exciting, new vision of the future; leading by example; constructing a heroic narrative and telling it often; leveraging the power in ritual and ceremony (pp 117 - 125)?

Resources for August 15

Date: Thursday, August 15
Time: 11:00 am - 12:30 pm
Location: Zoom Call​
Agenda: Discussion of chapters 8, 9 & 10​
Preparation: Read Chapters 8, 9 & 10​ (50 pgs)

Questions to Consider:

Participants, please bring 1-2 talking points from each chapter (8, 9, and 10) – essentially something that caught your interest or that you’d like to discuss more in-depth with the group.

Questions will be posted to this discussion guide after our online discussion.

Resources for August 23

Date: Friday, August 23
Time: 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Location: In Person, CDLC Green Room​
Agenda: Discussion of chapters 11, 12, 13, & Epilogue​, action items, summaries
Preparation: Read Chapters 11, 12, 13, & Epilogue (36 pgs)

Questions to Consider:

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