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on 17 April 2017
great book
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When I first saw the title of this book before reading it, I immediately recalled great leaders throughout ancient history, including those whom Homer discusses in his two epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey as well as those featured in plays written by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. More than 2,000 years later, the tribal leaders that Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright discuss in this book are "natural leaders," as were Achilles, Odysseus, Orestes, and Oedipus. However, they lead fellow workers rather than warriors to "victory" in the business world rather than on a battlefield. Moreover, what the co-authors mean by a "tribe" is a naturally occurring group of 20-150 people. Viewed this way, an organization becomes an interconnect series of these tribes. The key to changing an organization is to upgrade its tribes, one member at a time, through one stage at a time.

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.
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on 22 October 2016
There is a quote attributed to Gary Patton which sums up this book rather well (with John Maxwell's levels inserted in brackets): the mediocre leader tells (positional); the good leader explains (permissional); the superior leader demonstrates (momentum) and the great leader inspires (reproduces). But there is a 5th pinnacle stage of innocent wonderment, of what is possible, overwhelmed by gratitude, unlocking the potential of individual and global concerns (respect).

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.
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on 5 October 2011
A fabulous book that really makes you think about your leadership style. A good easy read that supports leaders at all levels of development.
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on 16 September 2015
This book by Dave Logan Tribal Leadership is great book for anyone who has a leadership role ,working for a company or maybe just wanting to know how to incorporate leadership skills in other situations.
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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on 27 September 2014
Changed the way I see things. I wish I'd read it earlier.
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on 25 September 2014
This is by far the most interesting business book I've ever read. fascinating and backed by year's of research. you'll start to notice people, teams and business whom fit within each stage mentioned in the book and no doubt, You'll be trying to figure out what stage you're in. Be honest, this book will help you lead better more productive teams.
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on 1 January 2013
I loved reading this and even found myself giving it away before I had finished - have had to rebuy it a number of times. The concepts are thought provoking and it is very in tune with the current environment. Essential reading if you want to create the right environment to gain the full benefits of social technology.
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on 19 March 2013
Tribal Leadership is a breath of fresh air. It opened windows into my and my organisation's behaviour and provided practical ways to address it. Just by 'triading' more often, I'm starting to see real change in the way people relate to one another. This book is well worth the time.
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on 28 December 2012
I am only halfway through the book but was prompted by Amazon to review and am so enthused that I want to comment now (also noticing that the top right of my screen tells me I have reviewed 1% of my purchases, so this is unusual for me!).
For those who are ready, read this book and it will change your life. It is that simple. If I had read this 10 years ago when everything changed for me, I would have accelerated through my personal development, and arrived at my present state of happiness and contentment a lot sooner.
When I read through the second quarter of chapters, I was astounded by the number of moments when the "penny dropped" - there were just so many that I recognised. Those who know me and worked on the CCA 2006 Programme will recognise those moments, and will understand why it was so good, and how to bring that into their current roles. For everyone else, you have something to look forward to.
When I finish the book, I will post an update (if the system allows this) as I am keen to comment on any reference to a few things - in particular job interview technique. In training courses, a number of people wanted me to stop referring to "we" in interviews and change it to "I", which I found difficult - I now know why I do this, and also know why they advocate the change!
A final point - the author clearly lives the values, as there are numerous references to other people's work, and guidance on how to understand theirs and relate it to this work - so absolutely no rubbishing of other people's theories in order to make this one look better!

Overall - well done!
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