Tribal Leadership

One of my favourite books of 2013 was Tribal Leadership:

I’m not going to go into the details here as there are plenty of better places to get that information.  Buy the book, check out this TED video or listen to the audio book

Go on – the video is only 16 minutes long, I’ll wait.

I first came across Tribal Leadership from the excellent Portia Tung at the equally brilliant BCS SPA mini-conference.

In her session, she explained the basics of Tribal Leadership and then set us up in teams with the task of making paper cranes:

Paper Crane

A Paper Crane

I didn’t really understand what it was about at the time, but I think I do now:

  1. Initially making cranes was hard, the instructions were poor, it wasn’t much fun – so we were experiencing stage 1, “life sucks”
  2. Then some people started completing the task, I wasn’t able to make a crane, so that was stage 2, “my life sucks” (but I understand that not all life sucks)
  3. Once I could build a crane I felt good and proud of my accomplishment.  This was stage 3, “I’m great” (with the implied stage 2 for anyone still struggling, “and you’re not”).
  4. The last round was as a team competition – trying to build more cranes than anyone else.  This was stage 4, “we’re great” (and you’re not).
  5. We never got to stage 5!

Since then I’ve seen some brilliant individuals stuck in stage 3 (I’m great, you’re not) and so struggle to create a team.  I’ve seen people exhibiting stage 3 behaviour that brings about stage 2 (my life sucks) reactions in others.  I’ve seen glimpses of stage 4 and have been working on exhibiting that behaviour and encouraging others to reach that stage as well.

I’ll probably write more about Tribal Leadership in the future as I’m a definite believer.



About Big_GH

Currently employed as a Software Development Consultant with over 30 years experience with computing. Started writing BASIC programs on the Commodore VIC 20, C64 and Amiga before switching to C and C++. Now spends more time helping others with their software and looking after the "bigger picture".
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