Every organization is made up of “tribes” – groups of between 20-150 people who share a common culture. These tribes have the collective power to make more of a difference than the organization’s CEO, or any other leader. To understand how tribal leadership works, organizations can be divided into basic types of groups, which naturally form in any company, by the way the the groups interact with each other. Logan has categorized these tribal relationships into five basic Stages.
For the nearly 75% of the workforce, that fall into in Stages 2-3, the question is, “How do you raise your tribe from the current Stage to the next higher Stage?” The answer is; to change the tribe’s attitude one person at a time, by encouraging them to use the language of the next higher Stage.
Dave Logan along with King and Haleee have written a book titled “Tribal Leadership” summarizes their research, their tribal leadership model and how corporations and organizations can move from Tribes to the next higher Stage..
Stage 1: Despairing Hostility
If people at Stage One had T-shirts, they would read “life sucks,” and what comes out of their mouths support this adage. People at this stage are despairingly hostile, and they band together to get ahead in a violent and unfair world.
Stage 2: Apathetic Victim
People in this cultural stage are passively antagonistic; they cross their arms in judgment yet never really get interested enough to spark any passion. Their laughter is quietly sarcastic and resigned. The Stage Two talk is that they’ve seen it all before and watched it all fail. A person at Stage Two will often try to protect his or her people from the intrusion of management. The mood that results from Stage Two’s theme, “my life sucks,” is a cluster of apathetic victims.
Stage 3: Lone Warrior
People at Stage 3 have to win, and for them winning is personal. They’ll outwork and out-think their competitors on an individual basis. The mood that results is a collection of “lone warriors,” wanting help and support and being continually disappointed that others don’t have their ambition or skill. Because they have to do the tough work (remembering that others just aren’t as savvy), their complaint is that they don’t have enough time or competent support.
"Lone Warrior “I’m great (and you’re not)”
Stage 4: Tribal Pride
A “we’re great” tribe always has an adversary— the need for it is hardwired into the DNA of this cultural stage. In fact, the full expression of the theme is “we’re great, and they’re not.” For USC football, the “you’re not” is usually UCLA (and in good years, whichever team is contending for the national championship). For Apple’s operating systems engineers, it’s Microsoft (although this is changing as Apple has moved to using Intel processors). Often, it’s another group within the company. A tribe will seek its own competitor, and the only one who has influence over the target is the Tribal Leader.
“We’re Great (and they’re not)”
The rule for Stage 4 is; the bigger the foe, the more powerful the tribe.
Stage 5: Innocent Wonderment
Stage Five’s T-shirt would read “life is great,” and they haven’t been doing illicit substances. Their language revolves around infinite potential and how the group is going to make history—not to beat a competitor, but because doing so will make a global impact. This group’s mood is “innocent wonderment,” with people in competition with what’s possible, not with another Tribe.
Innocent Wonderment: “Life is Great”
Relationship to People
"Life is Great"
"My life sucks"