Stage Four and Five of Tribal Leadership: From “We’re Great” to “Life’s Great”
Now a week away from the Eden Alternative International Conference, we look forward to hearing from our keynote speaker and best-selling author John King about his book, Tribal Leadership. Labeled an “unusually nuanced view of high-performance cultures,” Tribal Leadership frames leadership in terms of five distinct stages, each involving the participation of naturally-occurring “tribes” that come together around shared ideas or qualities. Over the last few months, we’ve taken a look at Stages One through Three. Today, we’ll bring this extended conversation to a close by focusing on Stages Four and Five.
While the Stage Three theme song is “I’m great,” Stage Four’s is “We’re great.” To move from Stage Three to Stage Four, leaders have an epiphany. They realize that using the word “we” is not enough. The only way to really lead the organization to sustainable success is to actually form relationships where people have to depend on each other to be successful. Interdependent tribes will strive to achieve goals that not one of them could ever achieve alone.
Stage Four tribes have a strong sense of identity, or tribal pride, which may also cause them to look at other teams and say “they’re not great.” To get past that, Stage Four tribes, and their leaders, focus on the development of strong value-based relationships that come together in triads (three or more people connected by a common purpose or interest). Stage Four tribes leverage their shared core values by rallying around a noble cause, e.g. eliminating loneliness, helpless and boredom.
Because the Stage Four leader has prioritized interest in the tribe’s growth, she is more preoccupied with “space management” rather than time management. Creating the space for teams and networks to become better integrated and more mutually supportive helps increase efficiencies and creativity. By managing the space, Stage Four leaders are able to build cohesive teams, while breaking down artificial boundaries and generating collaboration rather than competition.
In Stage Five, “we’re great” evolves into “life’s great.” Stage Five tribes share most of the same qualities as Stage Four, but they leap beyond being in competition with others and see themselves in competition against a greater social cause. An example would be an Eden Registry Member that seeks to bring others on the journey with them, rather than isolating their care approach as a competitive edge. Stage Five tribes emerge most often around specific endeavors or projects that basically invite the tribe to exceed even their own expectations. Once these peak events come to close, Stage Five tribes often slip back into Stage Four.
So, let’s apply Stage Four and Stage Five wisdom to our team experiences:
- Move beyond designating a “culture change champion” in your organization. When the responsibility for driving the journey rests in the hands of one person, or a small team, the organization stays locked in Stages One through Three. Growth happens when leadership is shared widely, when everyone recognizes that “we” will always be stronger that “I.”
- Using the concept of “space management,” create a learning organization. Nurture small, well-connected teams of care partners that have their own identity, and then reinforce the importance of being good neighbors to other teams as well. Break down constituencies and build community.
- Use Learning Circles as a tool to ensure that all discussions center around the team’s core values and how to build on them. Hold each other accountable to the team’s core values, especially in the face of conflict or uncertainty.
- Using a high engagement process, create a shared vision that aligns all tribes with the organization’s noble cause. What is that one thing that will inspire the tribes to exceed perceived limitations every day, in spite of challenges, obstacles and competing priorities?
- As leaders, demonstrate the importance of building healthy relationship, being well-known, connecting like-minded individuals, recognizing and leveraging strengths. There will be members of the tribe who need to grow out of Stages One through Three, so that they can take the journey into Stages Four and Five.
- Be mindful of the urge tribes will have to isolate themselves and be in competition with other tribes. Find effective ways to create interdependency among the tribes, so they are generous in sharing ideas, resources and expertise with one another.
- Reach outside the artificial boundaries of your organization. Bring others along on the journey with you. Re-establishing Elderhood and eliminating the Three Plagues cannot be done by only a few organizations. There are thousands of Elders and their care partners who need you today! What more noble cause do you need?
John King will be a keynote speaker at the 2014 Eden Alternative International Conference, which kicks off next Wednesday, April 30th.