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Tribal Leadership


by Yvonne DiVita

There seems to be a consensus lately that we're all members of "tribes." This book, Tribal Leadership - Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization is one more, but its different approach to the whole 'tribe' thing is more interesting than other books. It actually makes sense.

I have to admit, however, that I resent being told I'm part of a tribe. It sounds too - scary and backwoodsy. That's just me. I prefer to think of my connections are neighborhoods. I'll expound on that some other time because I have to stick to the purpose of this book and it talks tribes, not neighborhoods. Tribes, it says, are social units, bigger than groups but smaller than the whole of society. (and why can't it be a neighborhood then?)

Here's a peek inside the purpose of the book, "What moved us, and what we hope moves you, is not the statistical side of the analysis, but the people we met along the way." Wow. You mean people count? I was hooked from there on. The fact that people count has been my mantra for many years.

The authors of the book go on to say, "... tribes emerge from the language people use to describe themselves, their jobs, and others. For most people, language is something they just live with and don't think about."

Using language as a connector, as opposed to religion or location or even gender, is pretty powerful. The authors of this book describe five stages of language - the words and meanings of how we talk, which impact how we act and think and move forward in life. Or backward, as the case may be. Tribal-leadership-cover

It would take dozens of blog posts to give you the true sense of this book and why it's important to read whether you're a business trying to be a leader in your field, or a person trying to figure out why you're 'stuck' in a life you didn't want and can't control. In the different stages, each of us reflects our life expectations in the words we use to talk about ourselves and the work we do. Work is relative - it's work if you perform tasks for a purpose - regardless of what you get paid for or don't get paid for. And that's my description, not theirs.

On their blog, this post - an interview of one of the authors - talks about today's nimble company - and why that's so important. It's a factor in the movement to lead tribes that can embrace words like 'nimble' and take the action necessary. But, the important part of the interview is the way Dave Logan gives the language relevance.

In Stage One, the book tells us, "[People] say: Life sucks. Behavior expresses despairing hostility." Gangs, prison groups, things like that.

In Stage Two, the book tells us, "[People] use 'I'm great' language and may name-drop." It's all "I, I, I' .. I'm great, I know so-and-so and life is great."

In Stage Three, the book tells us, "[People] substitute 'we' language for 'I'. They work less and get more done. They communicate more information, more often." This is where people form what they describe as 'triads' - three-person groups that can accomplish more than one or two people, and provide a wider network. It's about the achievement of the work - "We can end suffering, hunger, disease... by doing XYZ together." Together seems a powerful part of this Stage.

In Stage Four, the book tells us, "...tribes pay almost no attention to organizational boundaries. Many Stage Four companies have contract or part-time workers, with people acting as free agents. What matters is contribution, not whether people are regular full-time employees." In this stage, people get to use talent and innovation to actually achieve something. They aren't held to corporate 'policy' that dictates every moment.

Whew! Imagine working in a Stage Four company! Can you say Zappos? Do you know any others where the description above fits? Have you ever worked in a Stage Four company? I haven't!

At BlogPaws, and at Lip-sticking, I'd like to hear Stage Four language. I'd like to contribute to that kind of thinking. This book has given me a LOT to think about. A LOT to consider. A LOT to ponder, as I work to embrace the focus of a Stage Four purpose in life. Everything I do is about the groups I interact with. It's about the pets and the pet parents at BlogPaws. It's about how to give my Lip-sticking readers the power to form triads and break out of Stage Three focus - into Stage Four where the language is, "How can WE make this happen? If we do this, will it work? If not, what do WE need to do?"

And what about Stage Five? It's amazing. You have to read the book to learn about it. If more business professionals and start-ups read this book, the world would be a different place. It would be a better place. If more people read the book and understood the reality of what it uncovers about the human condition and about our life experiences - and put into practice the suggestions in the book - wow... the world would be what we all say it should be - focused on achievement for a grander purpose, not on individual reward.

Just imagine...

** just to be open and authentic, this book was sent to me to review


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Current Affairs

Babu said the right thing. Language, culture and value systems together make strong things. If we lose any one from these there is no meaning remaining two things.

Thanks for sharing.

Babu Puthethu

I would say that Language, Culture, and Value systems together make the things happen and stronger... and of course it goes a long way!!

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