Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization

Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061251320
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/07/2011
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 61,522
Product dimensions: 7.86(w) x 5.38(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Dave Logan is cofounder and senior partner of the management-consulting firm CultureSync, which specializes in strategy, cultural design, and high performance. He is the coauthor of the bestselling Three Laws of Performance. In addition, he is a faculty member at USC's Marshall School of Business.

John King is cofounder and senior partner of CultureSync. He has trained and coached more than 25,000 people over the last 20 years.

Halee Fischer-Wright is a former partner of CultureSync and a practicing physician and faculty member at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

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.

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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Tribal Leadership 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
ArashSayadi More than 1 year ago
How effective is your company in achieving its mission? What role do you play in your teams? How effective are you as a leader? How can you improve your leadership beyond steering or controlling groups? No doubt we've asked these questions of ourselves. We may have even come up with somewhat satisfactory answers. However, there's nothing like research-based studies and books to shed light on what we may already intuit, or in helping us understand how to better lead our professional and personal lives. This last thought is exactly what may occur to you when reading the paper-back edition release of Tribal Leadership by Dave Logan, John King, & Halee Fischer-Wright. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in better understanding how to lead teams, groups, or companies into a new level of productivity AND camaraderie. Read on to learn why. Overall The book is well-written and easy to follow. In fact, you may start the book and become addicted to the ideas, unable to put it down. The conclusions are based on a study of 24,000 people in different companies at different levels of efficacy. The description of each stage of leadership, from complete chaos (Stage 1, "Life sucks") to a well-oiled machine (Stage 5, "Life is great"), is lucid enough to seem familiar from your day-to-day life. You'll likely come away from this book with a new mindset to navigate your personal and professional life to better serve, not just yourself, but your community at-large. In short, after reading this book and applying its lessons, you'll become a better member of society and the world community, increasing your happiness as well as everyone else's. Pros The authors' approach to leadership is based on a study of 24,000 people in different organizations. The focus is not purely on Drucker-style of leadership lessons, but historical evidence of effective leaders and the common theme that runs through each leader's story. This may sound like a typical theme for leadership books, except the authors approach and interpretation is different. The authors focus on relationships and the languages that represent the different styles of leadership, not just ideas. Given the book is based on studies of individuals and their results, the concepts aren't theoretical in nature. In fact, the authors admit they had to revise their pre-conceived notions based on lessons learned in the course of preparing to write and update this book. The various levels of an organization and leadership are described as Stages, each signified by a general state of mind, consisting of a Mood and a Theme (table below is recreated from page 25 in the book): Stage 5: Innocent Wonderment, "Life is great" Stage 4: Tribal Pride, "We're great(and they're not)" Stage 3: Lone Warrior, "I'm great(and you're not)" Stage 2: Apathetic Victim, "My life sucks" Stage 1: Despairing Hostility, "Life sucks" The Themes are summaries of the language a person in each stage uses to express their state of mind. Each of us have been at these Stages at one point or another in our lives, though, as the authors explain, the majority of population gets stuck at Stages 2 and 3. Stage 3 is the most prevalent, as is apparent in our day-to-day interactions with overpowering managers, bosses, or business owners who portray the "I'm great, and you're not" mentality, with especial empha
Guest More than 1 year ago
As the CEO and founder of a service organization, I can easily identify with several of the stages described so accurately in Tribal Leadership. Until now, I have been unaware of the power of tribes as the authors Logan, King, and Fischer-Wright have so clearly defined in this book. Tribal Leadership is a valuable tool to assist any manager become a leader and help channel their efforts as they elevate their tribe to the next productive stage.
johnpinkston More than 1 year ago
What this book does well is to describe leadership in terms of the people you are leading. It places people into one of five tribes. In doing so it gives a useful description of what people look like in each tribe and some of the things that you can expect out of them and what some of your reactions, as a leader, should be to them. In this regard it is a very practical book and great for leaders looking for ways to connect with people in their organization. One of its best points is that it is describing a process and the process has to be followed. You can get people to jump from tribe 1 to tribe 4 in a single leap. Rather they have to go through each stage. It may be a quick succession, but it is a linear progression.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dave Logan and his team deliver poignant concepts in a fast reading and entertaining book that will quite likely change your perspective on the culture at work and even on your relationships in your personal life. It is a must read for those interested in increasing efficiency and enhancing relationships. I've recommended it to several friends, patients and administrators.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read many books on leadership, and this one really broke through to a deeper level of understanding for me. My key takeaway is that people within organizations operate within complex systems, or tribes. Better still, the book outlined how to leverage these natural tribes for the betterment of the entire organization. This book offers a great analysis of how culture impacts performance without simplifying the idea by assuming that there is a single monolithic culture within an organization. This book takes a deep look at how high-performance cultures impact the success of a company, and I use the concepts from 'Tribal Leadership' within my own business on a daily basis.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tribal Leadership identifies the deeper meaning of leadership by advocating the breaking down of silos that exist in today's organizations. The authors take you inside the effective leader, who is acting to build coalitions and collaboration across the company. In a practical and fast-moving style, this book presents the five stages of a leader's journey - and how you can leverage core values and a noble cause to motivate and empower any team. This book sets forth a new challenge for leaders in all walks of life: are you ready to really leverage the power of people? A wonderful book with a new spin on a critical subject.
robert17 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's amazing the way the authors have shown how we naturally form into tribes and how the best companies (the ones with great cultures and high profits) are the ones where employees speak in a different way. The authors give the tools to turn around any organization.
ebelh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The authors have a sound base in research and practice with business and non-profit organizations. As humans we are hardwired to be in tribes (informal groups, teams, clicks, buddies, sewing circles, etc.) Using this book a tribe can be ranked by talks and acts. The rank ranges from life sucks all the way to life is great. A tribal leader is someone who helps nudge their tribe to the next level. The authors provide lots of concrete evidence and actionable advice.
numerodix on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
..somewhat painful to read because of how flat the language is. Despite what supposed marvels of organizational management they describe in the book, the writing style is so unsophisticated and almost uninteresting that it becomes a pain to keep going. The vocabulary is simplistic, the formulation is so overstated and the message repeated so many times that you can't possibly not get it, it practically reads like advertising copy.Not to mention this 5 stage plan that they have conceived as the one and only insight into the whole domain of business is very tiresome to hear about when it's more or less the only thing they have to say.
Dangraham on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There are some good parts to this book but overall it makes a bunch of claims that seem a bit made up to me. It puts business folks into 5 categories of development and asserts that certain traits are better than others without any data to back it up.
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She shrugs. "They're good, l guess. You and Plague?"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Phoenix. My NOOK is broken, barely working. I'm sorry, but I don't know when or if I'll be back." He rubs his face. "You're my very best friend, Phoenix, and I'm so thankful that you've always been here for me. I hope things work out between you and Theft, and that the rest of your life is as wonderful as you deserve. I guess I don't know what else to say, so... Goodbye."
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elbiddulph More than 1 year ago
A modern twist on good old-fashioned team building. That's really what this book is about. Instead of teams, it's tribes. Instead of teamwork, it's loyalty and productivity. Instead of team success, it's high performance culture. The authors have taken the concept of teamwork and adapted it to the recent explorations of the tribal concept. How can a group of people, connected through some common bond (working for the same employer, for example), evolve into highly productive and innovative teams? Through the five stages described in detail in this book. By applying theories of basic psychology and scientific research, the authors lead readers through a process of growth, from hostility and self-centeredness to a culture where knowledge is power but not shared, to a culture with common purpose and shared values. Tips and tools are shared to help leaders take their teams where few actually go, stage five, where the focus is solely on achieving potential and in which pure innovation exists. I'm not sure any substantially new theory is shared in this book, but familiar information is definitely presented in a new way. If your mind has shifted from team to tribe, you'll probably find great value in this resource. There are several nice touches in the book's format; coaching tips are called out throughout the book, there are easy to understand summaries of key points at the end of each chapter. All in all, Tribal Leadership is a useful resource for developing highly successful teams. For leaders seeking a systematic way to assess and develop the cultures of their tribes to achieve maximum greatness, this book presents the process in a useful and very readable format. It's a good addition to a leadership or management library.
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