Aug 302011
 

Recently, I read Tribal Leadership from Dave, John and Halee, and I am really impressed with the philosophy of this book. This book tells that people fall in one of five stages of tribes.Tribal Leadership

  1. Stage 1 – Life sucks
  2. Stage 2 – My life sucks [other(s) is/are better than me]
  3. Stage 3 – I am great [you are not]
  4. Stage 4 – We are great [others are not]
  5. Stage 5 – We have to be better than ourselves

In this context, a tribe is a group of 5 to 50 people that works to achieve something. A bigger group comprises of tribe of tribes. People may be aligned or isolated and depending upon that achieves more or none. A person can move from one stage to the other in succession only without skipping any step. A person in Stage 1 is destructive while a person at Stage 5 is very constructive and his team can achieve the miraculous feet.

Stage 1 (Life sucks)

Type of people in this stage

  • There are very few people in society who belong to this category. If you regularly read developmental blogs such as this then you very unlikely belong to this stage.
  • These are the people who have been so much abused that they have lost all hopes. To them, everything they do is fair.
  • These people destroy themselves or others with no remorse.
  • People who are completely isolated from all good things in life may fall in this category. These people fall below “Love/belonging region” in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Life of the stage

  • This stage is highly unstable. People at this stage either get killed or see a ray of hope and move to Stage 2 (My life sucks but there are happy people).
  • I believe many a times, we stay in Stage 1 for a very short period of time and we don’t even realize.

Stage 2 (My life sucks)

Type of people in this stage

  • These are the people who believe that they are not getting what they should get.
  • These are the people who generally have to work with Stage 3 people.

Life of the stage

  • They either try hard to get into Stage 3 (I am great) or get pulled into depression/rage in Stage 1.
  • A person can stay in Stage 2 and Stage 3 for a very long time (sometimes even lifetime).

Stage 3 (I am great)

Type of people in this stage

  • They consider others “not great” and thus treat them like that.
  • These are the people who are experts or consider themselves to be expert. These people can be scholar, noble laureate or very successful as individual but they are very tough to work with.
  • They tend to organize their time very religiously because they believe that others are not smart and they have to work extra because of others.

Life of the stage

  • People who work with this stage people are generally sucked into Stage 2 (My life sucks [because of you]).
  • A person can stay in Stage 2 and Stage 3 for a very long time (sometimes even lifetime).

Stage 4 (We are great)

Type of people in this stage

  • Once a person elevates from “I am great” to “we are great” then that person can inspire. A group can achieve more than an individual can so these individuals are high achievers.
  • Leaders in such tribe do not snatch team’s achievement but takes moral responsibility for any team effort gone bad.
  • A leader of such a tribe can manage time very well because now the whole team works with almost zero supervision.
  • A group in this stage is very satisfied and people proudly show belongingness to the group.

Life of the stage

  • Motivation of the whole team is to stay ahead of the competition. With change in dynamics of competition, the group can rise to Stage 5 or drop to Stage 3.
  • The group is dependent upon values and beliefs and less upon the leader.
  • This stage is very dynamic and leader must push the group to surges of Stage 5 frequently.

Stage 5 (We have to do better than ourselves)

Type of people in this stage

  • People in this category are at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This group can achieve the most.
  • They are driven by the desire to perform for their own satisfaction. They want to be better than before and want to bring radical changes.

Life of the stage

  • This stage is very unstable because sooner or later competition and commercialization kicks in and people have to fall back to Stage 4.
  • A leader needs to bring surges of Stage 5 to maintain people at Stage 4 and Stage 5.
  • The group can rapidly degrade to lower stages with the change of leadership.

I have seen groups at Stage 4. Working at such stages is very satisfying and people give up their personal assets (time, money, job titles) to work in such groups. Overall, Tribal Leadership is an eye opener.

Which Stage is your project team in? Are you breeding lower stages individuals who are bringing down people from their higher stages? Do other groups play a role in changing stages of your team?

  2 Responses to “Leader of a Tribe”

  1. Nice article.

  2. Thank you Ashish. I am glad you liked this post. You may subscribe to our feed for regular updates.

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