The Linguistics of Leadership

Zimmerman, D.P., (2002). The linguistics of leadership. The Constructivist Leader (2nd ed.).
New York: Teachers College Press, and Oxford, OH: National Staff Development Council.

•    "...we can focus deeply on other voices, searching for themes and ideas, finding boundaries and intersections, and seeking out frictions and incongruities (p. 89)."
•    "In response to others, we employ our linguistic abilities to restate, inquire, or add to what we hear; we encourage others to listen and converse, building the group understandings as we go (p. 89)."
•    "The constructivist leader's goal is to explore meaning with others as a way of deepening understanding, producing clarity, or reframing thinking (p. 89)."
•    Constructivist leaders listen differently. They quiet their minds to listen to the voices of others.
•    Constructivist leaders lead through linguistic moves.

Linguistics - Through the Lens of the New Sciences
•    "...leaders cannot expect to control conversations, but rather only to influence or shape the conversation (p. 90)."
•    "...the goal is to find the best understandings through a balance of paraphrasing, inquiring, and articulating ideas (p. 91)."
•    Constructivist leaders shape conversations through questioning, paraphrasing, and summarizing.
•    Constructivist leaders also know when to be silent.

Self-Organizing Patterns of Thinking

Enabling Structures for Discourse
•    "Structures serve as guides for leaders but often remain invisible to the group (p. 94)."
•    Initiating activities focus the group.
•    Structures are meaning making. In order to accomplish that task, they must be able to have the group's interests captured. There are 3 types of activities to which structures must attend: initiating, constructing, and closing.
•    Initiating activities bring focus to and set the tone and purpose of the group. They help make everyone be participants in the group. They help create respect so that the group can set worth on the task.
•    "The facilitator knows to move to the next phase of constructing by paying attention and moving on once the group is grounded in the public space (p. 95)."
•    "Skilled facilitators learn to observe the ebbs and flows of group focus, changing the structures and activities to sustain momentum and focus (p. 95)."
•    "The most important leadership at is framing compelling issues and constructing opportunities for focused conversation about these issues (p. 95)."
•    In the constructing activity, the leader focuses the group on a task of mutual interest. Because groups may steer the conversation in a direction that the leader had not intended, the leader must be flexible and acceptant of some ambiguity and uncertainty. Such conversations can be complex and frustrating. The leader must encourage participants to be persistent.
•    "When conversations become complex, some group members will lose focus. Graphic organizers and thinking maps assist leaders to create tangible products for group members to think about and respond to (p. 96)."
•    "...closing activities create communities of memory and commitment (p. 96)."
•    "Taking time to summarize, finding patterns that connect, creating metaphors, generating new questions, and committing to action bring closure (p. 96)."
•    Recognizing the lack of closure is an equally important activity.
•    "The constructivist leader knows that introductions linked to meaningful interactions are richer and therefore memorable; he or she also understands the need for summarization or statements about commitment (p. 97)."

Three Linguistics Moves
•    The Similarities Between the Question and the Paraphrase
    o    "To further the meaning-making process, the leader designs linguistic moves in order to understand or help deepen the conceptual field (p. 98)."
•    Linguistic Moves - The Question
    o    Leaders should ask open-ended conversations to foster conversation rather than stifle it.
    o    "How leaders learn to frame questions either limits or enhances the group's ability to construct meaning and act in concert with others (p. 98)."
    o    The Rhetorical Question
        •    Rhetorical questions stop conversations. However, sometimes they can add humor to a tense or particularly taxing conversation.
    o    The Categorical Question
        •    Categorical questions also limit conversations because they can often be answered using one word.
    o    The Cross-Categorical Question
        •    "Questions that open up possibilities and do not restrict answers to narrow categories focus thinking in a much broader way; they elicit a broad range of possible answers within cross-categorical boundaries (p. 100)."
        •    "Open-ended questions create feedback systems in which they amplify the meaning created by the group, allowing it to ebb and flow in many directions (p. 100)."
•    Linguistic Moves - The Paraphrase
    o    "In its simplest form the paraphrase is a restatement in the listener's own words of what was heard. When the paraphrase captures the essence of the message, it acknowledges; when it missed the mark, it clarifies (p. 101)."
    o    "...the paraphrase is not a neutral linguistic tool; like questioning, it requires a mind-set of respectful listening or it can become manipulative (p. 102)."
    o    Learning to paraphrase requires practice. It is an attained skill.
    o    The Advanced Paraphrase
        •    "The content paraphrase summarizes; the emotion paraphrase emphasizes (p. 102)."
        •    The advanced paraphrase is a highly refined skill that is used to shift the focus of the conversation.
•    Linguistic Moves - The Reflective Pause
    o    "...pauses give speech its cadence and shape (p. 104)."
    o    The reflective pause also includes an extended break in eye contact. Writing, paraphrasing, and calling for reflection are ways to enact a reflective pause.

Linguistic Frameworks
•    The States-of-Mind Framework
    o    Five States of Mind (quoted from pp. 107 - 108)
        •    (1) searching for inner resources and determining who has the locus of control determines the level of efficacy
        •    (2) what one is aware of and not aware of establishes the level of consciousness
        •    (3) how to consider options determines flexibility
        •    (4) how to think about perfecting a craft develops an ethic of craftsmanship
        •    (5) how to think about building relationships establishes the level of interdependence
    o    "Metacognitive capabilities can be enhanced through the application of states of mind to a conversation (p. 108)."

Language Choices for a Postmodern World

•    Question for Sofia Study "How can teachers find the time to learn such complex language patterns?"