How Great Leaders Think: The Art of Reframing

By Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal | Reviewed by Kelly Sanders, PT, DPT, OCS, ATC

How Great Leaders Think: the Art of Reframing by Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal gives the reader a glimpse of how strong leaders think by revisiting the four-frame model of leadership and organization that they first outlined in their work, Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership. This new book provides a shorter, more tangible version of their first work, providing the reader with multiple real-world case reports of leadership.

The book conveys three key messages:

  • Good thinking is the starting point for good leadership.
  • Leaders who can reframe—look at the same things from multiple perspectives—think better. They create a lucid portrait of what is going on around them and have a clear vision of what is needed to achieve desired results.
  • Leaders can see and do more when they know how to negotiate four key areas of the leadership terrain: structural, human resource, political, and symbolic.

One of the things I liked most about this book was that while it went over some theories of management and leadership, the majority of the book focuses on the practical applications of the four frames noted above.

The authors use many case studies of well-known leaders such as Jeff Bezos at Amazon, Tony Hseih at Zappos, and Ursula Burns at Xerox to demonstrate the application of the four frames and outline both good and bad decisions and the impact those had on leaders and companies we all know and follow.

Through these case studies, the authors unravel complex situations and bring clarity to help interpret business situations and make sound decisions. The book also provides tools and leadership strategies to help organize a motivated, high-functioning team of individuals.


Kelly Sanders, PT, DPT, OCS, ATC, is a member of the Impact editorial board and is president of Team Movement for Life, a 19-location outpatient physical therapy practice operating in California and Arizona. Kelly can be reached at

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