Tribal Leadership | Dave Logan

Summary of: Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization
By: Dave Logan


Welcome to the fascinating world of ‘Tribal Leadership,’ where author Dave Logan brings forth an enlightening perspective on the effective functioning of organizations. People have always gathered in tribes to accomplish large-scale projects, and understanding the dynamics of these tribes is essential to ensuring productivity and harmony. This book provides an in-depth analysis of the stages that tribal cultures go through, explaining why some tribes are more effective than others. As you read the summary, you’ll understand the importance of nurturing a vibrant and healthy tribal culture to unleash the full potential of your organization.

The Power of Tribes

People have formed tribes throughout history, and the workplace is no exception. A tribe typically consists of 20 to 150 people and is the social structure in which people operate. Each member has a different role that serves different purposes, and the tribe members must work individually on some tasks but together toward the same goals. Forming a tribe is necessary to complete any large-scale project, as tribes are essential in every field. It’s crucial to have a thorough understanding of how tribes work as they are an essential part of how humans operate.

The Influence of Tribal Culture on Workplace Productivity

The success and productivity of a workplace are heavily influenced by its tribal culture. Just like in a class at school, the tribal culture in an office setting determines the mood, attitudes, and relationships of the employees towards each other. A good tribal culture results in more productive and motivated employees, while a bad one can lead to a decline in performance even among skilled team members. The tribal culture also determines how employees handle their workload, making it essential to foster a positive and productive culture.

The Importance of Tribal Culture

Tribal culture significantly affects the tribe’s success, with five different stages of mind-set. The lowest stages consist of individuals who are hostile or apathetic. People with stage one mind-set are violent and hateful to survive. Stage two culture is characterized by apathy, and employees won’t show initiative unless they have to. These workplace cultures are prevalent in underprivileged backgrounds and bureaucratic societies with unproductive environments. As an employer, it is crucial to avoid hiring stage one or two employees as they lack loyalty and will prioritize their interests over the company’s.

The Negative Mindset in Tribal Cultures

The third stage in tribal cultures is the most common and also the most negative mindset. It affects 48% of American employees and is characterized by selfishness and arrogance towards others. People with this mindset only care about their own interests and view their colleagues as incompetent or lazy. This stage makes the workplace unproductive by preventing real cooperation between members. It hinders the collaboration necessary for any prosperous workplace, affecting both employees and the organization as a whole. For instance, the doctor who thinks that nurses are only nurses because they are not intelligent or dedicated enough to be doctors is not only unkind to his colleagues but also affects himself negatively. The culture of stage three tribalism makes it quite hard to complete meaningful goals that require help from others, given that stage-three employees are usually too self-interested to collaborate well.

United in Values

In stage four tribes, members are united by common values and a shared purpose that they prioritize over personal success. Values are key to successful collaboration and engagement, leading to real innovation. This is exemplified by IDEO’s work with Kaiser Permanente, where staff collaborated to find the best solution for patients. The former CEO of Amgen used a list of employee values to guide decisions. Triads, three-sided relationships, also form based on shared values. In stage four, members are committed to their noble cause, such as helping others as seen in a surgeon’s career. This creates a work environment where collaboration and the power of all members’ ideas lead to success.

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