Is Your Tribe Creating Clarity or Emotional Chaos?
At some point in our lives, we become part of a new social group, commonly referred to as “tribes” thanks in part to King and Logan’s best-selling book “Tribal Leadership.” We join new groups, clubs, and new companies. In some cases, it feels like the right decision until something happens. Something starts to feel off and you feel out of step. It is hard to describe and because you can’t quite put your finger on it. Over time, it starts to eat away your confidence, like being the last one picked at recess for a team. (Remember that?!?)
Being in the right tribe feels easy and uncomplicated. Even challenging “team” experiences are energizing. In fact, it’s those times that act as confirmation that your original commitment to the team was a perfect choice. Your team pulls together and even with the occasional missteps, the resulting momentum accelerates everyone.
But being in the wrong tribe not only wastes resources, worse yet, it can demoralize. How can you tell you’re in the wrong tribe?
To help determine if you are in the right or wrong group, consider the top five points made in John Falchetto’s session of “From Being Hunted by Tribes to Building One: Lessons from the Desert to Build a Tribe Online.” Consider these points to be the flashing railroad lights that the tribe isn’t right for you.
1. The main objective and purpose of the tribe is to promote its leader. The credit for work produced by the entire team goes to the leader or a small elite group. Additionally, the leader is often asking you to introduce your friends or peers to a “too good to be true” idea that may involve getting your friends to purchase something.
2. Member goals are ignored. Prior to being in this group, your ideas and contributions were valued. Yet today, they are consistently passed over because they are not in sync with leader’s goals. In the worst cases, your ideas are barely heard or are mocked to pressure you into conformity or subservience. Moreover, if you vocalize feelings of uncertainty about an approach to solving a problem or if you question the value of what is being promoted publicly, you’re told “you just don’t get it yet”.
3. There’s no room or support for member growth. If you are considered by the “leadership” a student, apprentice and journeyman and there is not a clear promotion path with tangible respect and reward, move on.
4. Individual personalities are encouraged to dissolve into uniformity. Strong tribal leaders facilitate healthy dissenting opinions, listen for nuggets of good ideas, and encourage brainstorming of new perspectives. This is particularly important when the conversation is about building a better team, company or product. Dysfunctional leaders have one way – THEIR way. They often can be passive aggressive or intimidate others that they feel are stepping “beyond their skills” into shut-down mode and silence. If you find it becomes easier just to be quiet and go along, it’s time to go.
5. You are continually paying the unpleasant consequences of the leader’s decisions. Feel like you’re always apologizing to customers or cleaning up aftermath of leadership’s latest escapade? That’s a warning sign. Recently, I came across a company where a high performer’s highly inappropriate behavior was known and yet completely unchecked by leadership because the individual was in the ‘protected’ inner circle. After leadership ignored multiple client issues caused by the person, other high performers left the company, as did those key clients.
If you find yourself similar situations at work or in a group, it’s time to make a change. To find the best match, be very clear about who you are, what values you won’t compromise and how you contribute to a group. Most of all, listen to your gut.