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Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization Paperback – June 7, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
The authors, management consultants and partners of JeffersonLarsonSmith, offer a fascinating look at corporate tribes—groups of 20–150 people within a company that come together on their own rather than through management decisions—and how executives can use tribes to maximize productivity and profit. Drawing upon research from a 10-year study of more than 24,000 people in two dozen organizations, they argue that tribes have the greatest influence in determining how much and what quality work gets done. The authors identify the five stages of employee tribal development—Life sucks, My life sucks, I'm great and you're not, We're great and Life is great—and offer advice on how to manage these groups. They also share insights from the health care, philanthropic, engineering, biotechnology and other industries and include key points lists for each chapter. Particularly useful is the Tribal Leader's Cheat Sheet, which helps determine and assess success indicators. Well written and enlightening, this book will be of interest to business professionals at all levels. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“Tribal Leadership gives amazingly insightful perspective on how people interact and succeed. I learned about myself and learned lessons I will carry with me and reflect on for the rest of my life.” (John W. Fanning, Founding Chairman and CEO napster Inc.)
“[A]n unusually nuanced view of high-performance cultures. . . . [S]hare the book with your Type A’s and prima donnas, as it expertly describes the tension between loners who perform exceptionally and those who perform exceptionally but who measure success as part of a team.” (Inc.)
“[T]he most thorough and unique book to come along pertaining to organizational dynamics in quite some time....Whether you’re trying to move an organization forward or trying to move forward yourself, Tribal Leadership is a great place to begin your efforts. (Business Lexington)
“Leaders of both for profit and non-profit organizations, including politicians, and can benefit from perusing Tribal Leadership.” (McClatchy-Tribune News Service)
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The power of the book lies in the way it helps the reader better understand the reasons we choose the words we do to express ourselves. Leaders quickly learn to change their speaking habits which will immediately create greater influence on the team and also, helps them easily identify non-productive members of the team. I highly recommend this book for any organization or company.
The book's main focus after having defined the tribe and Tribal Leadership is to "give you perspective and tools of a Tribal Leader: someone who can unstick the conveyor belt - and make it run faster for whole groups of people, no matter which stage they're in. The result is more effective workplaces, greater strategic success, less stress, and more fun." This conveyor belt is an analogy for what the authors define as the tribal stages 1 through 5. Each stage is characterized by certain language and behavior.
Stage 1: "The person at Stage One is alienated from others, expressing the view that "life sucks."
Stage 2: "Stage Two people are surrounded by people who seem to have some power they lack. As a results, their language expresses "my life sucks."
Stage 3: "The person at Stage Three is connected to others in a series of dyadic (two-person) relationships. the language of this stage expresses "I'm great," and in the background - unstated - is "and you're not."
Stage 4: "The person forms structures called triads, in which they build values-based relationships between others. At the same time, the words of Stage Four people are centered on "we're great" and, in the background, "and they're not." The "they" is another tribe - in the same company or in another.
Stage 5: "A person at Stage Five expresses "life is great." Five shares the same characteristics of Four, except that there is no "they." As a result, these people form ever-growing networks with anyone whose values resonate with their own. The only Stage Five cultures we have observed (in corporate settings) exists as long as a history-making project lasts or as long as the tribe is so far ahead of its competitors that they are irrelevant."
Simply put the role of Tribal Leaders is "do two things: (1) listen for which cultures exist in their tribes and (2) upgrade those tribes using specific leverage points."
A very interesting, educative and fun read. It helps one look at companies through a new viewpoint with a specific focus on the culture and relationships/dynamics within it. It is filled with practical real-life examples and applications and backed by substantial empirical research. Highly recommended!
Below are excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:
1- "People at Stage Three approach leadership as though it were a set of tasks they could check off their to-do list (e.g., "set the vision," "get alignment," and "listen with intention"). The moment leadership becomes cookie-cutter, it isn't leadership at all - it's management. By making the person aware that he's behaving in a Stage Three fashion toward leadership, you might help him see that he isn't a leader at all. This realization may propel him into the set of epiphanies of the next chapter."
2- "...The two most important aspects of owning Stage Four: identifying and leveraging core values, and aligning on a noble cause. Everything else the tribe does should be sandwiched between these constructs. Projects, activities, initiatives, processes - unless they are fueled by values and reach toward the tribal vision - should either be rethought until they are consistent with these guiding principles, or pruned. By definition, core values and a noble cause can never be "checked off," in the same way that companies complete an upgrade to computer technology."
3- "...Values must be core, and that means universal...Second, the unity resulting from core cause and a noble cause must be alignment, not agreement...Alignment, to us, means bringing pieces into the same line - the same direction."
4- "The Tribal Leadership Strategy Map: Start with core values and noble cause in the center, then move to outcomes and go counterclockwise around the model (assets and behaviors). Test Questions: Assets sufficient for the Outcomes? Enough assets for behaviors? Will behaviors accomplish outcomes?"
5- "An outcome, by contrast (to a goal), is a present state of success that morphs into an even bigger victory over time."
6- "A stage five tribe can work with any group that has a commitment to values that are core and that apply to everyone, even if those values are different from its own."
7- "While Tribal Leaders do their work for the good of the group, not for themselves, they are rewarded with loyalty, hard work, innovation, and collaboration. The tribe gets work of higher quality done in less time. The person is often seen as a candidate for op organizational jobs or for positions in government."