Achieving tribal leadership in 5 easy steps

Using tribal leadership to improve culture and build world-class customer experienceBefore we delve into the core of this blog, let me take a moment and spread some light on tribe leadership and what it means.

Every organization is made up of tribes, groups of 20 to 150 people who are bound together by familiarity and shared work. Tribes are the little-acknowledged, basic building block of any large human effort. David Logan, a faculty from USC stated tribe leadership in a video (Attaching the video below for listening pleasure). He categorized tribes into 5 stages:

 

·       Stage 1: “Life sucks” for everyone, and therefore it is okay for me to behave badly to make my way. Only 2% workforce accounts for this category.

·       Stage 2: “My life sucks, as people can see that life is okay for some other people, but in this stage, people have little to no motivation to change because they believe their life (or their work) is bad.  It’s all “their” fault.  The authors claim about 25% of workplace tribes operate in this mode.

·       Stage 3: “I am great, you are not.”  This is where majority of corporation lives (50% of workplace tribes).  Organizations promoting individual excellence as they hire best and brightest.

·       Stage 4: “We are great, they are not.”  A shift from individual competition to the entire tribe competing against other tribes.  In organizational settings, Stage 4 is a combination of having common goals and values as well as a common “enemy tribe” to compare against.  This represents 22% of workplace tribes.

·       Stage 5: “Life is great.”  The pinnacle of workplace tribes, they seek and promote good life for everyone.  Values are the central glue that holds the tribe together – and violation of those values can rip the tribe apart if the leader lets the violation stand.  There are no tribal competitors, not because they don’t exist, but because the tribe is striving to make an impact (on the world) rather than striving to win (against another tribe).

 

Each stage pretty much functions as it reads.  As per David Logan, we all belong to some or the other tribe and we only understand one stage up or down. He also suggests that good leaders should be able to lead tribes at every stage.

 

Sounds pretty neat, ha? I am certain that Zappos being on Stage 4 of Tribal Leadership is not surprised to learn about its pioneer position as a customer centric company. It won’t be tough to imagine Apple as Stage 5 tribal organization.

 

 

Best customer centric organizations are directly linked with organizations that deliver world-class products. So, it is important to help companies achieve stage 5 tribes. This promotes brands with strong and deep culture roots that care and want to make products that not only makes customers happy but also changes the world.

 

Following steps are needed to help companies achieve a culture to progress to stage 5 tribes.

 

Understand/Identify tribes that live or could live in your organization:

Before we groom companies to thrive in its corporate culture we need to identify various tribes that exists. Knowing each tribe and how people are aligned will not only help learn more about existing corporate culture but also give us a trajectory needed to progressively improve culture.

Promote free speech and open communication to help people align:

It is also important to let employees, vendors, and clients align themselves with tribes without any external influence. Therefore, every effort should be made to embrace free speech and open communication. This will help everyone in aligning themselves to respective tribes and verticals. This ultimately helps in identifying overall corporate positioning. This will then help in understanding weak and strong areas of the business.

 

Create a culture to identify tribe leaders:

Another important task in identifying tribe leadership is to identify tribe leaders and help them in every possible way to lead and manage tribe. This will not only help in better alignment of the tribes but also in identifying leadership that works in favor of building strong culture. Tribe leader normally carries more influence on tribe and therefore could lead the way for an organization.

 

Connect tribes to network and learn from each other:

Tribes should also be given a chance to learn from higher stages and see how and what it takes to bridge the gap. Mingling the tribal leaders together, or hosting networking sessions between tribes could do the job. This could result in thinking shift within tribes and if done properly, it could result in improving tribal stages. Therefore, improving overall corporate culture.

 

Embrace tribal leadership on management level:

Nothing is possible without leadership buyin. It is of uttermost importance that leadership/management buy-into the idea of building tribes and their leadership. Leadership should also make sure that customer centricity is an integral part of corporate DNA.

 

So, above stated 5 steps are good for starting a corporate culture that embraces effective leadership. This help builds stronger corporate culture that facilitates creating world changing groundbreaking products. Products, that people love and cherish, thereby delivering a company with great customer centricity.

 

Please leave me your suggestion and critic on comment section below. I would love to have an interactive discussion on this and would appreciate follow up discussion.

v1shal

v1shal

Vishal is the Founder and CEO of Cognizeus.He is passionate about BigData, Analytics, Automation, Marketing and Lean methodologies. He cowrote a book on "Data Driven Innovation : A Primer"
v1shal

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