We, as humans, are pack animals; we naturally organize into groups. Our physical and emotional survival depends on the connections we establish with our “pack.” David Logan, in his TED Talk as well as in his book Tribal Leadership, defines these groups as “tribes.” A tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea. Think for a moment about the many tribes that you belong to… your family, your church, your Thursday night bowling league, your group of friends, etc. They are everywhere and a part of everything we do- including our work.
David Logan describes the power that exists in these tribes and the influence they have on the individual’s actions. I think we can all remember the power of peer pressure as teens. It is real, even as grown adults. In many cases, we think of the experience of peer pressure and oftentimes have a negative emotion attached to it. Mr. Logan offers a different perspective to the influence that our tribes can have on us and our organizations. He describes the opportunity to leverage the tribe to build an amazingly energetic, creative and impactful organization.
Mr. Logan begins by defining the different stages of tribes. The culture of the tribe can be summed up in how they, collectively, view themselves and their place in the world. Stage One tribes believe “life sucks”; Stage Two tribes believe “my life sucks”; Stage Three tribes believe “I’m great”; Stage Four “we’re great” and Stage Five “life is great.” This is an extreme simplification but imagine if all of your interactions and your decisions were run through the filter of the culture of the tribe you were identifying with at that moment. Take one interaction with any customer and run that scenario through the filter of “my life sucks” or “I’m great” and contrast it to how it would look from the space of “life is great.” I would suggest that they look vastly different.
Logan suggests that leaders have the opportunity to improve the culture of their organizations and impact the lives of the individuals that make up the tribe by intentionally helping the tribes to move to the next stage. This means first taking an honest look at your tribe (work, personal, bowling leagueJ) to assess what stage you truly live in and then making a choice to lead. Leadership in the tribe is really about nudging the tribe forward little by little creating the awareness and the desire to be a tribe that thrives and, potentially, changes or disrupts its world.