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Harnessing the Power of Tribes ๐Ÿ’ช

A tribe is more than just a group of people within an organization; it's a powerful force that can revolutionize how work is accomplished.

The primary objective is to establish a tribe, fostering a professional support system composed of your direct reports. Within this tribe, individuals understand one another implicitly, making it a hub for troubleshooting, learning, and even venting.

The ultimate goal is to nurture a cult-like loyalty, enabling everyone to thrive.

Have you ever pondered the dynamics within your organization and why some groups consistently outperform others?

Why do certain internal "tribes" seem to engage in conflicts, reducing overall performance and increasing politics?

Why do some groups struggle to achieve their goals, or why is it challenging to ascend the career ladder?

The key to understanding these dynamics lies in comprehending tribes. Tribes aren't just teams; they're the core units responsible for driving organizational success.

They possess the ability to either reinforce or undermine the latest corporate culture initiatives.

In essence, tribes determine a new leader's success, the quality and quantity of work accomplished, and even talent attraction or expulsion. An organization's overall performance isn't dictated by individual tribal leaders but by the collective influence of these tribes.

Breaking Down Dysfunctions

Is your design team suffer from any of these symptoms?

  • Lack of trust: This leads to concealing weaknesses and mistakes, avoiding seeking help or advice, hesitating to offer assistance, feedback, or compliments, and evading meetings.
  • Fear of conflict: This results in hesitancy to voice opinions and concerns, ignoring critical issues, fostering interpersonal conflicts, and giving rise to backchannel communication and office politics.
  • Lack of commitment: This stems from a lack of confidence and fear of failure, leading to repeated discussions, ambiguity, and missed opportunities.
  • Avoidance of accountability: This manifests in demotivating high performers, missing deadlines, overwhelming team leaders, and perpetuating mediocrity.
  • Inattention to results: Teams suffering from this dysfunction often lose sight of the end goal.

If your UX team is grappling with Lencioni's Five Dysfunctions of a Team, then understanding tribal leadership is paramount.

Understanding Tribal Leadership

Tribal leaders wield a profound influence over their tribes' cultures. Ambitious leaders dedicate themselves to evolving, adapting, and enhancing their tribe's culture, thus improving their standing within the organization.

If they succeed, the tribe members reward them with unwavering loyalty, often resulting in promotions. Becoming a tribal leader, especially for new managers, demands extra effort.

Tribal leadership is not an endpoint; it's an ongoing process, often concealed from the eyes of those within the tribe. When you start viewing your company as a tribe, everything clicks into place.

The dynamics of tribal leadership are distilled into five distinct stages, each with unique "leverage points" for advancing to the next stage, marked by increased productivity and enjoyment.

The 5 Tribal Stages

Stage 1: "Life sucks". Comparable to street gangs, this stage is filled with hostility and despair, breeding a negative work atmosphere.

Stage 2:"Life Doesn't Suck, only your life". In this stage, people are passively antagonistic, with little enthusiasm or passion. They often shield their tribe from management's influence.

Stage 3:"I need to win, especially if you lose". At this stage, individuals are competent but work in isolation. They aspire to help but are frequently disappointed by others' lack of ambition or skill.

Stage 4:"WEโ€™RE GREAT". Stage 4 signifies a transition from individual excellence to collective greatness. These tribes eschew politics and personal agendas, focusing on their shared goals.

Stage 5:"Life is amazing". This is the pinnacle, marked by boundless potential and a drive to make history. Teams at this stage produce groundbreaking innovations, demonstrating pure leadership, vision, and inspiration.

Key takeaways

To cultivate a Stage 4 Tribe within your UX team, you must create an environment where team members can be themselves, find camaraderie after challenging days, and connect on a deeper level.

Encouraging tribal culture requires a strategic approach, acknowledging that it may take years to fully realize its benefits.

The first crucial step is understanding the tribal stage of your direct reports.

This insight will enable you to craft experiments and promote tribal behaviours, gradually moving your team closer to the coveted Stage 4.

To summarize, tribal leadership has the power to transform your UX team, fostering a culture of innovation, collaboration, and shared success.

It's not just about work; it's about building a tribe that thrives together. ๐Ÿ–ค

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That's it for today. Speak soon ๐Ÿ’›.



Founder @ UX Playbookโ€‹



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