Authors: Dave Logan; John King; Halee Fischer-Wright
The authors indicate that you can recognize tribes in your organization, and what level of culture these tribes can have. The latter you recognize on the basis of language use by the members of the tribe.
But first you need to know what a tribe is. A tribe is any group of 20 to 150 people who know each other enough to stop on the street and have a chat. They often correspond to the people in your email address book and your smartphone. Often a small company is a tribe, often a large company is a tribe of tribes. A small tribe (20 people) often has only one culture, a (medium to) large tribe (50 to 150 people) can have multiple culture levels at the same time.
Tribal leadership is leadership that focuses on the language and behavior within a culture. It does not seek to sharpen cognitions, beliefs, attitudes, or other factors that we can only measure indirectly. It does focus on language use, behavior and relationship structures. To start this leadership, the leader must start practicing two things:
- The tribes tell him their level of culture through their language use.
- Upgrading the tribes to a “higher” culture level.
The authors’ research shows that the use of the following vocabulary is typical of the culture levels:
|Stage||Mindset||Word usage – examples|
|1||Life sucks – clusters of ‘gangs’ – alienation||Life, sucks, interrupts, can’t, stop, whatever|
|2||My life sucks – clusters of apathetic victims – separated||Boss, life, trying, can’t, give up, quit, sucks|
|3||I’m great – “lone warrior”, culture of the “wild, wild west”||I, my, my, job, profession, do, did, have, went|
|4||We’re great – radiating tribe pride relations as a partnership||We, our team, do, they, have, did, committed, value|
|5||Life is great – innocent wondering, relations in teams||Wow !, miracle, happy, vision, values, we do.|
In addition, they also provide a number of tools with which you can upgrade from a group of a “lower” culture level to a “higher” culture level. The success factors that you have to look out for are the words that the tribe will use during their evolution to a higher level. In doing so, the leader must again keep two things in mind:
- The tribe must rise systematically stage by stage, it cannot skip a stage.
- The tribe has to master the stage for a while.
Levels from level 1 to 2:
- The person has to see it and want it. Go where the action is: eat with colleagues, go to meetings, take up social functions …
- Encourage a break with others with a “life sucks” mentality
From level 2 to 3:
- Encourage making friends in dyadic (two-person) relationships.
- Encourage friendship with people in late stage 3.
- Show her that her work makes a difference.
- Show what her strengths are within her competences.
- Show her growth potential that she still has to acquire, but keep it positive.
- Give her projects that she can do well in a short time. Don’t follow it too closely.
From level 3 to 4:
- Encourage triads (three-person relationships).
- Let her get to know others with the same core values, discover corresponding interests, and find opportunities where they can complement each other in terms of work.
- Encourage her to take on projects she can’t handle alone. So let her work with partners.
- Show her that the success comes from her own work, but that the next step is something that requires a different style: collaboration.
- Describe role models who focus on “we”, triads and group success
- Tell about your own step from stage 3 to 4
- Teach her that real power is not in knowledge but in networking. Make it clear that you are on her side.
- Encourage transparency. Encourage her to tell more than what is absolutely necessary.
From level 4 to 5:
- Ensure her triads are based on values, benefits and opportunities.
- Encourage the use of market conditions to make history.
- If the market doesn’t deliver anything, create an opportunity.
- Recruit others to the tribe who share the values of the group’s strategy.
- If the team encounters difficulties, also refer to others for solutions. Do not try to solve everything yourself (that is level 3 behavior).
- “Change the oil regularly” with the following questions: 1) what is going well, 2) what is not going well and 3) what can the team do about it?
Tribal leaders do their work for the good of others, not for themselves, and they are rewarded with loyal employees, hard work, innovation and collaboration. The tribe can complete more difficult assignments in a shorter time with a higher quality of finish.