When the best leader’s work is done the people say, “We did it ourselves!” – Lao-tzu 6th century BC.
After we established in the first part of this blog series that tribal behavior exists in every company and we learned in the second part how we can analyze this behavior, we are now ready to replace negative tribal behavior in the company with a positive one, by building a “supertribe“.
Build a self-motivating “supertribe”
As already mentioned, Immelman`s tribal model aims to build a self-motivating “supertribe” that all employees belong to and to meet the needs of the tribe with various means.
But what attributes define a self-motivating supertribe?
Ray Immelman defines in his book Buch Great Boss Dead Boss 23 tribal attributes that describe how tribes behave.
The 23 tribal attributes:
A strong tribe…
1. has a clear common enemy.
2. has clearly defined symbols.
3. offers a super-ordinate identity to all sub-tribes.
4. has a credible just cause for its continued existence.
5. has a clear rite of passage.
6. has clear external measures of success.
7. understands and protects its source of power.
8. knows how it compares to the ‘untouchables’.
9. has clear and credible criteria for tribal membership.
10. communicates in a non-traditional, subjective and intuitive manner.
11. develops its own distinct language.
12. has tribal roles that are fundamentally different from accepted functional roles.
13. records and celebrates significant events that reinforce its identity.
14. has a clearly defined and well-known justice mechanism.
15. has a clearly defined icon that embodies the tribal value.
16. has a walled city – a place where things of value to the tribe are kept.
17. possesses objects of value that embody the tribe’s values.
18. has a revered figurehead.
19. celebrates and cares for the skills, tools and implements it needs.
20. expects unquestioning loyalty.
21. has clearly defined roles, responsibilities, values and power structure.
22. has a leader dedicated to the tribe’s success.
23. Strong tribal leaders have capable mentors whose psychological limits exceed theirs.
Examples of how to apply the tribal attributes
A successful leader with knowledge of tribal behavior uses the positive side of the attributes and ensures that the negative side doesn’t show up.
According to Immelman the entire company must have a clear common enemy (1st tribal attribute). To achieve this, you could for example create a display with information on your OUTSIDE competitor: who they are, what they do, what they make. I can assure you from personal experience that this simple action encourages very fast cooperation in the company and reduces infighting.
You can for example use following clear, external measures of success, to measure the performance of your tribe (the 6th tribal attribute):
- market share
- stock price
Immelman also recommends recording and celebrating significant events that reinforce the tribe`s identity (the 13th tribal attribute).
Occasions might for example be:
- entry into new markets,
- successfully implemented integration events and
- early project completion.
Don’t forget the banner! Company picnics are also an economical way to increase the bond between tribal members.
According to Immelman a tribe must have a leader who is dedicated to the tribe’s success (the 22nd tribal attribute). This includes a conscious effort by the leader to understand and behave in ways that make others successful, starting with the members of the tribe.
Already in the 6th century BC, Lao-tzu pointed out: When the best leader’s work is done the people say, “We did it ourselves!”
This leadership style builds trust and motivation among the members of the tribe.
You will learn more precisely what constitutes a strong leader in the fourth part of this blog series.