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A “tribe.” is a network of 20 to 150 people. Everyone knows each other, or of everyone else within a collegiality.
Mapping the Dynamics of Tribal Leadership
The authors show leaders how to assess their organization’s tribal culture by listening to and ascertaining each members level. These stages will be recognised by the groups way of speaking. As levels are explained, strategies are suggested to elevate each stage to the next.
Through a rigorous eight-year study, the authors refine and define this common theme. The success of a company depends on its tribes, whose strengths are determined by the tribal culture. An effective tribal leader can establish a thriving culture, as outlined in Chapter 1.
The Challenge of Tribal Leadership
The authors find that over three quarters of the organizations studied have tribal cultures that are merely adequate [p 145]. Leaders can improve understanding and motivation of their groups by using team language to develop a “we” culture instead of an “I” culture. The result is called “stage 4.” A culture that embraces synergy above individual success, develops an ability to accomplish more within a streamlined harmonious environment. Happiness and a sense of well being is predicted. When this group aptitude for harmonious synergy reaches “stage 5,” it changes from “we’re great” to “life is great.” A way of speaking, has become reality.
The Five Tribal Group Cultures
1. “Life sucks” is a stage where people believe that all of life sucks. They feel oppressed and that there is nothing they can do to help themselves.
2. “My life sucks” is characterised by people externalising blame to people and blocks in the way of their success. Individuals complain and are not motivated. In response to a sense of desperation, they form bonds of shared oppression.
3, “I’m great” really means, “and you aren’t.” Whilst these individuals who aspire to excellence may produce amazing results, it will be tiring. Everything is a struggle because power is hoarded, communication is unidirectional, therefore people tend to burn out.
4. The shift from “I” to “we are great,” is good but still marred by the inference that “You are not.” Cultures at this stage work together, putting the good of the group above the good of the individual, against a common foe. Increased efficiency is the result of intentional sharing of information. People within the group thrive by building on each other’s successes, so jealousy dissipates.
5. “Life is great,” can be a transient stage, with a goal aspired to for the sake of itself, and for the betterment of mankind. The need for a common foe to unite the tribe disappears.
The authors emphasise stage 4 culture because it evidences the most apparently instructive vantage point from which to clearly show how the development of synergy works.
Stage Four cultures and leaders exhibit the following behaviours:
A desire to work together will be stimulated once individuals have passed through stage 3 due to disenchantment with the limitations of personal success.
Shared core values, which facilitates members of the group making decisions in line with a shared set of values.
A “noble cause” as a shared goal.
The use of “triads” to decentralize communication in contrast to stage 3 communication where knowledge is power.
Using values and a noble cause to work toward an outcome, ensures that actions are informed by the values which flow toward that cause.
Tribal Leaders are rewarded by loyalty, hard work, innovation and collaboration. The enthusiasm experienced at stage 5 is not always easy to maintain. The authors are seeking stories from cultures that have been able to achieve this. They invite submissions to the Tribal Culture website so that research can be further refined.