I hope you are ready to learn about tribes because I am ready to share.

 The Tribal Leadership Intensive is a 10 week training for Tribal Leadership Certification. It is based on the work of Dave Logan book “Tribal Leadership” and is held by Logan’s organizational design group, Culturesync.

A tribe is a self-assembling group of 5-150 people who have something in common. This could be your business, your club, your colleagues, or your church group, for example. But they are not always what you assume they would be. They are groups or groups within groups where people find a shared camaraderie and interest.

Learning Number Uno

There are 5 stages of tribes. I’m inserting Culturesync’s diagram of the tribe’s structure. What you will see in the diagram is that there is an action and a theme for each in which you can hear the language of the tribe.

Tribal Leadership
Tribal Leadership: The 5 Stages of Tribes

Think about your business for a minute.  What’s the stage of  your tribe?  How many tribes make up your culture?

    1. 1. You are probably not Stage 1. Stage 1 is a dangerous place where people steal and kill to survive and justify it because “Life Sucks.” Think gangs (often quite effective as a business, BTW.)  The only way out of this despairing place is to be individually pulled into Stage 2 to save your life.
    2. 2. If your business tribe is at Stage 2, people are disassociated, don’t try, or do the minimum necessary because they can’t get ahead. They can’t catch a break. They blame coworkers and management for their woes. “Their Life Sucks.”
    3. Most businesses are at Stage 3. People feel great. They do what they do best and can’t figure out why others aren’t doing what they do. People feel deserving of special, individual remuneration. Competition lives inside the business and “I am Great” is rewarded and compensated. The cream rises to the top in a Stage 3 tribe.
    4.  I immediately recognized Stage 4. Stage 4 is the same as a High Performing Team with the language of “We are Great.” In Stage Four, people work together toward a common goal with common values against a common competitor. Rather than individual rewards and remuneration, there is team pride and remuneration.

My first aha: Not many businesses make it to a stable Stage 4 which is what my coaching work is about. One reason is that many businesses are starting at Stage 2 and they can’t understand what Stage 4 is about. It is impossible to understand the language: “We’re Great.”

To move to Stage 4, you must already be a stable Stage 3 tribe and ready to transcend to Stage 4 before it is possible to hear and understand the theme.

Aha number duo: In order to make the leap from Stage 3 to Stage 4 (High Performance) it takes Lone Warriors who get tired of the incessant competitive nature of Stage 3 and start to see that there may be a better way that involves collaboration rather than competition. These people position themselves as a tribal leader and start to gently move the tribe to Stage 4.

Aha number tres: There is a Stage 5. This is a completely values-based tribe. There exists no competition, only impact. There aren’t many of these tribes. But I, for one, hope to more of them in the world. Herein lies my big dream. What a revelation: There is a spectacular world beyond High Performance.


Ruth Schwartz

Ruth Schwartz is the author of "The Key to the Golden Handcuffs". She is a high performance business consultant and leadership coach. Connect with Ruth to participate in the conversation. Google+, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube .

    2 replies to "Tribal Leadership: What are the 5 Stages of Tribes?"

    • Sabrina Garcia

      This seems like a really great discovery on how to expand your leadership skills. This is definately something that has sparked my interest and something I would like to look into 🙂

    • Ruth Schwartz

      Sabrina, I’m happy to talk with you further about this is you want to connect.

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