Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization
  • Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization
  • Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization

Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization

4.5 34
by Dave Logan, John King, Halee Fischer-wright, Halee Fischer-Wright
     
 

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It's a fact of life: birds flock, fish school, people "tribe."

Every company, indeed every organization, is a tribe, or if it's large enough, a network of tribes-groups of 20 to 150 people in which everyone knows everyone else, or at least knows of everyone else. Tribes are more powerful than teams, companies, or even CEOs, and yet their key leverage points… See more details below

Overview

It's a fact of life: birds flock, fish school, people "tribe."

Every company, indeed every organization, is a tribe, or if it's large enough, a network of tribes-groups of 20 to 150 people in which everyone knows everyone else, or at least knows of everyone else. Tribes are more powerful than teams, companies, or even CEOs, and yet their key leverage points have not been mapped-until now. In Tribal Leadership, Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright show leaders how to assess their organization's tribal culture on a scale from one to five and then implement specific tools to elevate the stage to the next. The result is unprecedented success.

In a rigorous eight-year study of approximately 24,000 people in over two dozen corporations, Logan, King, and Fischer-Wright refine and define a common theme: the success of a company depends on its tribes, the strength of its tribes is determined by the tribal culture, and a thriving corporate culture can be established by an effective tribal leader. Tribal Leadership will show leaders how to employ their companies' tribes to maximize productivity and profit: the authors' research, backed up with interviews ranging from Brian France (CEO of NASCAR) to "Dilbert" creator Scott Adams, shows that over three quarters of the organizations they've studied have tribal cultures that are merely adequate, no better than the third of five tribal stages.

Leaders, managers, and organizations that fail to understand, motivate, and grow their tribes will find it impossible to succeed in an increasingly fragmented world of business. The often counterintuitive findings of Tribal Leadership will help leaders at today's majorcorporations, small businesses, and nonprofits learn how to take the people in their organization from adequate to outstanding, to discover the secrets that have led the highest-level tribes (like the team at Apple that designed the iPod) to remarkable heights, and to find new ways to succeed where others have failed.

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Editorial Reviews

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 2007 Reed Business Information
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
“Leaders of both for profit and non-profit organizations, including politicians, and can benefit from perusing Tribal Leadership.”
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.”
Business Lexington
“[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.
John W. Fanning
“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.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061251306
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
01/22/2008
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
525,218
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.05(d)

Read an Excerpt

Tribal Leadership
Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization

Chapter One

Corporate Tribes

Every organization is really a set of small towns. If you're from a small town, think of the people there. If you're not, think of, as Don Henley sings, "that same small town in each of us." There are the business executive and the sheriff. There's the town scandal—the preacher's wife and the schoolteacher. There's talk of who will be the next mayor, who will move away, and the price of grain (or oil or the Wal-Mart starting wage). There's the high school, where the popular kid, the son of the town's sheriff, throws a party the weekend his father is away. There are the church crowd, the bar friends, the single people, the book club, the bitter enemies. There are also the ones who are the natural leaders, who explain why the party at the sheriff's house seemed like a good idea at the time and how sorry they are for the beer stains on the carpet.

The people are different in every town, and the roles are never exactly the same. But there are more similarities than differences, and the metaphor itself always holds, from companies in Nebraska to ones in New York or Kuala Lumpur.

We call these small towns tribes, and they form so naturally it's as though our tribe is part of our genetic code. Tribes helped humans survive the last ice age, build farming communities, and, later, cities. Birds flock, fish school, people "tribe."

A tribe is a group between 20 and 150 people. Here's the test for whether someone is in one of your tribes: if you saw her walking down the street, you'd stop and say "hello." The members ofyour tribe are probably programmed into your cell phone and in your e-mail address book. The "150" number comes from Robin Dunbar's research, which was popularized in Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point. When a tribe approaches this number, it naturally splits into two tribes.

Some of the corporate tribes we've seen include the high-potential managers of one of the world's largest financial ser-vices companies; the doctors, nurses, and administrators of one of America's most respected healthcare institutions; the research and development division of a mammoth high-tech firm; the operational executives of a major drug company; and the students of the executive MBA program at the University of Southern California.

Tribes in companies get work done—sometimes a lot of work—but they don't form because of work. Tribes are the basic building block of any large human effort, including earning a living. As such, their influence is greater than that of teams, entire companies, and even superstar CEOs. In companies, tribes decide whether the new leader is going to flourish or get taken out. They determine how much work gets done, and of what quality.

Some tribes demand excellence for everyone, and are constantly evolving. Others are content to do the minimum to get by. What makes the difference in performance? Tribal Leaders.

Tribal Leaders focus their efforts on building the tribe—or, more precisely, upgrading the tribal culture. If they are successful, the tribe recognizes them as the leaders, giving them top effort, cultlike loyalty, and a track record of success. Divisions and companies run by Tribal Leaders set the standard of performance in their industries, from productivity and profitability to employee retention. They are talent magnets, with people so eager to work for the leader that they will take a pay cut if necessary. Tribal Leaders receive so many promotions in such a short time that people often spread buzz that they will be the next CEO. Their efforts seem effortless, leaving many people puzzled by how they do it. Many Tribal Leaders, if asked, can't articulate what they are doing that's different, but after reading this book, you will be able to explain and duplicate their success.

A Tribal Leader many of us know from history is George Washington. His single major contribution was in changing thirteen diverse colonies into one people. If we look into what Washington actually did, he built a single identity (measurable by what people said) to a series of networked tribes. One was the affluent class in Virginia society, perhaps fewer than a hundred people. Another was the Continental Congress, originally fifty-five delegates. The third was the officer class of the Continental Army. Each time, Washington led the group to unity by recognizing its "tribalness," by getting its members to talk about what unified them: valuing freedom, hating the king's latest tax, or wanting to win the fight. As he built the common cause in each tribe, a mission gelled and they embraced "we're great" language. Washington's brilliance in each case was that the man and the cause became synonymous, with the leader shaping the tribe and the tribe calling forth the leader. This is how Tribal Leadership works: the leader upgrades the tribe as the tribe embraces the leader. Tribes and leaders create each other.

Before we move on, a few words about our method. We're at the end of a ten-year set of research studies that involved twenty-four thousand people in two dozen organizations, with members around the world. We derived each concept, tip, and principle in this book from this research. What moved us, and what we hope moves you, is not the statistical side of the analysis but the people we met along the way—people who live the principles, who make life better for millions of employees, customers, and residents of their communities. As a result, we've written this book around the individuals who moved us.

Our guiding metaphor is this: most popular business books are like log cabins, cozy and warm with a blazing fire. They're comfortable, life affirming, and filled with snapshots of people and moments. They're fun to read, and the principles in them resonate within our experiences as true. The log cabin is built on anecdotes, however, and as we look back to fifty years of them, many have . . .

Tribal Leadership
Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization
. Copyright © by Dave Logan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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What People are saying about this

John W. Fanning
“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.”

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