Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization Paperback – 5 Jul 2011
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“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)
From the Back Cover
Every organization is composed of tribes—naturally occurring groups of between 20 and 150 people. Until now, only a few leaders could identify and develop their tribes, and those rare individuals were rewarded with loyalty, productivity, and industry-changing innovation. Tribal Leadership shows leaders how to assess, identify, and upgrade their tribes' cultures, one stage at a time. The result is an organization that can thrive in any economy.See all Product description
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As I shall soon discuss in more detail, their view of stages is the key to getting an organization at least to the fourth of five stages of development. Their view is very practical: how to transform an organization. What they propose is based on a ten-year set of research studies that involved 24,000 people in two dozen organizations, with their members located around the world. The co-authors share what they learned from their research in this book.
For example, how to build and then sustain strong relationships between and among an organization's tribal members. As they explain, "Every tribe has a dominant culture, which we can peg on a one-to-five scale, with Stage Five being most desirable. All things being equal, a Five culture will always outperform a Four culture, which will outperform a Three culture, and so on." Paradoxically, the leadership challenge is to strengthen a tribe until it becomes a Four or Five culture while allowing it to function collaboratively within a federation with other tribes. In essence, the strength of a tribe is determined by the health of its culture.
In Chapter 3, Logan, King, and Fischer-Wright introduce and explain what they characterize as "the tribal leadership navigation system." Its purpose is help leaders in the 75% of companies whose workplace tribes have a cultural Stage Three or below to locate the leverage points by which to nudge their company forward (i.e. higher) faster whiled emerging as a tribal leader. The co-authors suggest how to determine the current culture stage and then explain what is needed to reach the next stage.
One key point is that advancing a tribe is most efficiently achieved one member at a time. Aspiring leaders, therefore, must keep in mind that they have two eyes, two ears, but only one mouth. Therefore, they should spend at least 80% of their time observing what is (and isn't) happening and listening to what is (and isn't) said. Those whom Logan, King, and Fischer-Wright cite as effective tribal leaders (e.g. Griffin Hospital's David Charmel, the U.S. Olympic hockey team's Mike Eruzione, IDEO's David Kelley, and the Moore Foundation's Frank Jordan) have highly developed skills for "reading" a person's tone of voice and body language.
Personal note: My own experience while working closely with several hundred companies is that one of the most revealing indicators is workers' use of pronouns. Those who are actively and productively engaged use first-person plural pronouns almost exclusively. Those who are passively engaged or actively disengaged (i.e. dysfunctional) seldom do.
Credit Logan, King, and Fischer-Wright with making especially effective use of various reader-friendly devices. For example, Technical Notes, Key [Chapter] Points, Coaching Tips, Summaries, Leverage Points for a Person (per Stage), and Success Indicators. These devices facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review later.
Here in a single volume is about as much information, insights, and advice as a business leader needs to help her or his "tribe" (be it a department, division, or company) to develop and then sustain at least a Four culture. The success of those efforts, however, must be collaborative in nature and be continuous at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise.
To go from a mediocre "stalled leader" of a tribe of tribes (the CEX) to upgrading the organisation's diversity into a single identity of networked synthesis would be an incredible achievement for most organisations. It is the belief you can take everything from a current level and reconfigure its methodology upwards in evolutionary terms. Such an approach is usually targeted from the outside-in through strategy and process. What makes Logan, King and Fischer-Wright's solution so insightful is the recognition of cultural interiority as the predominant factor in change management (Drucker: "culture eats strategy for breakfast") - what can get missed from the radar of transformation programmes.
The reader is given the ability to probe these "implicit agreements of discouragement of questioning" and understand the epiphany needed to move between the thresholds of stages 3 and 4 when a culture dares to drop the masks of "approving character armours" (copycat roles in the tribe sustained by others) that mis-fit, mis-function and mis-direct. Therefore, it is one of the stated aims to promote a 'centre of gravity' above stages 2 and 3 tribal politics to arrive at a stage 4 "we are great" culture of resonant values (20 percent) and maybe for the lucky 2 percent a stage 5 genius tribe with a "life is great" attitude.
However, for the vast majority of those in employment it is about egocentric stage 3, the dominant mode of working (50 percent) followed by stage 2 (25 percent) labelled the apathetic complainers or "the keepers of the secret flame of no accountability". In fact stages 2 and 3 are flip sides of the same culture and coexist seemingly in a victim-controller dynamic. Looking at the facets of stage 3 in greater detail forms the main fulcrum to which stage 2 wants to aspire and stage 3 can make the leap from. It is at the level of 'the game' or the rat race dependant on one's status of victimhood in the interaction: of adverseries, corporate castes, knowledge hoarding technocrats and Trump's badass business class of "I'm great" (therefore "You're not"). It is the wild wild west of experts or lone wolfs battling it out for personal or factional accomplishment within a system of delegation (taking their orders first), where time is capped by one's own self-reliance; you are only as good as your last performance, and your results are not based on who you are but on dyadic agreements or a two way commoditisation of relationships. It is also the stage of the smart conformist ("I don't make waves"), and the place the US nation might have culturally arrived at for the first time when a political rank outsider with an interest-based bargaining background has been given a platform to out maneuver the GOP in the US presidential election race. US elections are traditionally pitched at the level of the incumbant's authoritative 'biegeness', in other words how statesperson-like a challenger can become. The expectations of a polished bureaucrat, and the character armour of what is required to make the distinguished public office of President appears to have shifted considerably enough to have even allowed the consideration of a bona fide stage 3 candidate - though one whom has achieved notorious credibility or notoriety!
The tribal pride of stage 4 (22 percent) promotes core family values and interdependent strategies and one has only to take as an example Leicester City FC's remarkable achievement to attain a sweet spot of exceptional performance, possibly peaking at stage 5 in May 2016. The set-up was noted for having an incredible attention to little things (see Hoffman: theory of small gifts) and was guided by a talented connector (triader) who inspired his team to watch everyone's backs and not stab them in a philosophy of togetherness. Referencing stage 4 to Spiral Dynamic's nurturing Green there is the aspiration to establish consensus ways of authentic working that build upon Orange stage 3 credibility. A leverage tool covered comprehensively in the book particularly relevant at this level is alignment working. If properly maintained through triadic relationships it will fix a multitude of problems or at least proatively spot them - effectively reducing a manager's time.
Stage 4's battling it out on the Normandy beaches can unfortunately be attributed to high performing rogue groups united by a cause of resistance in adhering to 'noncore values' with no universal benefit. In effect stage 4 subsumes elements of undermining hostility from Stage 1 (sociopathology) that are criminal or antisocial in behaviour. It is suggested in the long run, however, having a value "for the few" will undo itself over time - an interesting observation, if not a little hopeful.
Due to the nature of the 1st-person plural 'we' perspective of culture great pains have been taken to provide objective validity to establish the hidden attributes of naturally ocurring work groups. For Logan, King and Fischer-Wright each stage has a unique set of "unsticking leverage points" that work like the right tool for its stage that unlock the relevant codes in terms of cultural relationships and languages. The data shows a before and after cause-effect in applying leverage points at each stage which is described in the Appendix. Also mentioned is Burke's concept of cultural terministic screens - an early inspiration towards the theory of Tribal Leadership. This is the idea that beliefs, attitudes and motivations cannot be changed without attempting to change the words people use to describe themselves first (and following on, the types of relationships made in the process).
After describing the five stages in a fairly unconventional sense there is a section that seemed to have been parachuted in from a more traditional textbook on scientific management that covers the measurement of behaviours, outcomes and assets. However in the vein of revalatory material in Tribal Leadership there is a concentration on the hidden core assets which are often hard to see by others. It is argued this lack of common ground (advertising) can mean missing out on markets, becoming prey to boycotts, even over-regulation and lawsuits. For example, US research has shown that medical doctors who pay attention to their manner are less likely to encounter complaints regardless of the accuracy of their diagnosis. Therefore, it is sensible to constantly ask how others view the tribe in a series of questions: how many behavioural paths (strategy-in-action) are needed to accomplish outcomes? Will behaviours accomplish outcomes? Are there enough resources for outcomes (including the unpredicted)? Are limitations taken into account? Are there enough assets for behaviours?
More recently (2014) research by Laloux has set out to uncover the tribal dynamics of organisations performing at higher states of consciousness, borrowing heavily from Spiral Dynamics theory. Therefore it is my estimation Laloux's colour nomenclature could be applied to the Tribal Leadership stages in a broad outline, for instance: Stage 1 (Red), 2 (Beige), 3 (Orange), 4 (Green) and 5 (Turquoise). Stage 5 is the pure well-being of collaborating within (not against) your own tribe. Though it is suggested there are very few organisations that can maintain this level of history-making for any extended period before reverting back to high stage 4. For example, it might be said the Apple iphone has now dropped off the pace in relation to its competitors in recent iterations?.
Finally, a great quote from the book that really sums up what Tribal Leadership is all about is as follows: "the invisible ubiquitous energies of tribes which leaders intuitly voices and surrenders his/her services to in becoming greater." What more can be said and how rare a proposition for those whom get to choose this future. My opinion of this book radically altered as I realised it had at least a 7 year head start on Laloux's brilliant Reinventing Organisations. As such it does not appear outdated in the slightest, and is a great introduction in clarifying why extant tribal structures - every one knows are out of kilter with human resources organisational structure charts - are so hard to put one's finger on.
It talks about five stages,the reader will quickly recognise the stage they may be in and also recognise where others may or may not be in any working environment
Not that easy a read but the concepts are fairly easy to understand and get hold of,the thing is how to put it into practice and make it work.
well worth a read ,very good.
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