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Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization

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4.02  ·  Rating details ·  7,511 ratings  ·  372 reviews
Tribal Leadership gives amazingly insightful perspective on how people interact and succeed. I learned about myself and learned lessons I will carry with me and reflect on for the rest of my life.”
—John W. Fanning, Founding Chairman and CEO napster Inc.

“An unusually nuanced view of high-performance cultures.”
 —Inc.

Within each corporation are anywhere from a few to hundred
...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 22nd 2008 by Harper Business (first published 2008)
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Marcus
Jan 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I would have never read this book had it not been for the free audio version I found through Zappos.com. I was't looking for yet another business book, much less a management book, but this one really surprised me and hit me hard. The book in a nutshell talks about 5 stages that organizations and the members of organizations go through:

1 - Life sucks.
2 - My life sucks (but maybe there's something better).
3 - I'm in it for me.
4 - We're in it as a group with a core set of values; there is a higher
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Jennifer (aka EM)
Read for work. This is a low star-stage 3 (if anyone reads this, you'll find that hilarious, trust me). It was surprisingly tolerable given my intolerance for a) non-fiction; b) books written by MBAs; c)pseudo-scientific self-help manuals. It avoided for the most part a's tendency toward repetitiveness (although it was definitely filled with beating-a-dead-horse, jargony prose, and I think the copy-editor must have nodded off in the last third); b's insufferable superficiality and barely-below-t ...more
Chantie
Sep 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
An interesting take on social interaction and relationships. While the focus was more professional related, like does tend to self-select. The premise is there are five stages that people exist within, and they are as follows:

1. Life suck (this is the person that goes postal)
2. My life sucks (this is the person that sees everyone keeping them down)
3. I'm wonderful (I'm so wonderful - the ME culture)
4. We're great (cooperative for better of group)
5. Life is great (group works for the better of th
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Erika
Oct 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
While I'm not a manager, nor do I foresee a career in becoming a "tribal leader coach" anytime soon, if you're a leader of any group of people, you may find this book useful. You'll find it especially useful if you already recognise the power of a tribe or have the need to leverage a groups' already existing talents.

I picked up this book because I teach middle school, a natural environment for tribes and cliques, and figured I might gain insight into how to manage their day-to-day. Instead, I ga
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Jurgen Appelo
Nov 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leadership
Important book with many great stories, but suffers from too much hyperbole and model-building.
Jay
Jun 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book reminds me of Jim Collins book Good to Great in that both are presenting findings from lengthy research studies. While Collins book talked more about their underlying methodology, Tribal Leadership shows five cultural levels and describes the transition from one to the next. Briefly, the five statges are:

1. Life sucks
2. My life sucks
3. I'm great
4. We're great
5. Life is great

As tribes (groups of 20 to 150 people) improve culturally through the five levels, vallues change and a noble ca
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Erika RS
Mar 30, 2014 rated it liked it
I want to give this book 5 stars on content and 2 stars on presentation. Every time I worked on reading this book, I got something valuable out of it. Oftentimes, something I could apply that very day. But the whole time I read it, I was vaguely bored.

I think that this is because, while the content is valuable, the book itself is quite repetitive. I feel it could have been half the length (or even less) and contained all of the same content. And a good fraction of that reduction could have come
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Graham
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Graham by: Mike Cannon-Brookes, via Jost Stollmann
So, the story goes that our CEO, Jost Stollmann, asked Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founder & co-CEO of Atlassian and one of Tyro’s board members, something along the lines of…
“If you had to recommend just one book to your leadership team, what would you choose?”

And Mike recommended: Tribal Leadership. I think I can see why.

What’s the book about?

The book is about the results of ten years of research by the authors and how they found that people in organisations form tribes; that each tribe has a prev
...more
John
Jun 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed-by-me
Read this if you have great performers in your company who think they're great, but also secrretly think others are not great . . . Such a company needs to evolve to understand how everyone in the "tribe" can say: "We're great."

The basic message here is compelling, but it is so involved in dubious philosophical / psychological claims about human development, I just can't give the book a very high rating.

Like a lot of self-help books, the rhetorical strategy starts from the assumption that you ar
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Quinn
Sep 14, 2015 rated it liked it
I think the more I read the less each book makes an impact on my life. This is one of those books that if I had just started reading business books it probably would have got a 5 out of 5 and had me getting extra copies for each bathroom. I felt like what was suppose to be a broad expanse of interviews and careful peering behind different corporate curtains by the authors ended up being a recount of handful of experiences that fit their mold. Although it was a quick read I found it a little long ...more
Pascal Wagner
May 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
I believe in the premise of the book and they made a few good points but they writer lost me often. I ended up just reading the bullet points at the end of every chapter.

I'd probably recommend watching a TED talk about the subject instead of reading this book.
Tõnu Vahtra
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Having read so many books on organizational development and organizational culture recently I was starting to get disappointed as most of them were repeating each other. This book was a surprising exception and especially considering the fact that it was written over 10 years ago and I have so far came across only a few references to it from other books. Recently I have read a lot about leadership development (Leadership Pipeline, Performance Pipeline, 5 Levels of Leadership...) and also books a ...more
Jessyca505
Oct 09, 2017 rated it liked it
⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2 “[Don Beck] said, after hearing about the three stages of epiphany, "There's a word in the Bantu languages that [Archbishop Desmond] Tutu has used to help bring the entire country of South Africa together: ubuntu, meaning 'Today I share with you because tomorrow you share with me.'" The word can also be translated "I am because we are.” ~ David Logan

I want to be part of a tribe! At stage four! I want to be inspired so that I can inspire!
David Logan visits many avenues that I have read
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Katie
This book, ironically, was required reading for a place I formally worked which I would classify as strongly "stage 2" or "stage 3."

I really enjoyed not only the material of this book, which seemed very well researched and applicable, but also the format. I thought there were perhaps a few too many examples, but in-general what information it had was what it needed. I don't really know how to summarize the book, but I would definitely recommend it for anyone who is a leader in an organization, o
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Mario Tomic
Oct 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Great book on leadership! It's crazy how accurately the 5 stages he mentions in the book reflect a lot of the companies I know. On top of that the book contains great practical tips you can use to create successful teams and when the time comes you'll know exactly how to motivate your people to great performance. Highly recommended!
Wiet Vande Velde
Tribal leadership explains about an interesting phenomenon: the Level of thinking people are living in. As a leader, you want to understand the principles explained in this book. It will help you to understand why people say certain things. For me, an interesting read and a valuable lesson learned.
Cameron J
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've always been interested in understanding what differentiates mediocre teams, from good teams from great teams. This book has helped me understand what differentiates different team performance, their causes as well as attributes. This won't be the last time I read this book. It is well worth more than one read.
Grant
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
I had heard of the perspective in this book through some conversations I had with other CEOs. It was interesting to read the evolution of their thought (to a point, see below) and the fact that they added a stage 5 only after they realized that SOME companies exhibited “higher” behavior. But this is also where I think they strayed a bit into the “Silicon Valley” mindset of grander missions over focused missions.

The book could have been about 30% shorter, but it is mostly well written (I listene
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Qasim Zeeshan
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome, well researched and “based on real stories” book with tips to formulate teams to achieve a goal that’s beneficial for everyone. Highly recommended in the start of a career.
Nitinkumar Gove
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really nice book. The key concepts in this book along with the learnings from principles by Ray dalio and the hard things about the hard things can really do magic for a CEO.
Ali Sohani
Jan 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: leadership
An excellent book on a leadership, draws heavily from a research, the 5 stages for cultural transformation:

Stage 1 - "Life Sucks" - pathological, gang-like, angry.
Stage 2 - "My Life Sucks" - a mix of learned helplessness, bitterness.
Stage 3 - "I'm Great" (and you're not) - Productive and dynamic but egocentric.
Stage 4 - "We're Great" (and they're not) - tribe-oriented, creative, productive, tight.
Stage 5 - "Life Is Great" - Big-picture, tribe-connecting.

"Change the language in the tribe, and you
...more
John Michl
Nov 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Just finished the audio book. Well worth the free download from Zappos.com! The book is not quite 5.5 hours and if you can't get the free version, worth the purchase price. I plan to buy the hard copy as reference. Played on high speed on my iPod, I was able to finish it in one week's daily commute.

The book leads the reader through five stages of tribal leadership with solid examples of each level for both individuals and organizations. Of special interest to me was the description of word choi
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Daniela
Feb 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Logan states that there are 5 stages when comes to tribes and how people define themselves and their contribution to life:
1. Life / everyone sucks
2. My life sucks
3. I'm great, and you're not and I have the means to prove it to you
4. We're great
5. Everything is great - our goal is global.

What captures the attention the most is the epiphany of an authentic tribal leader, which is the central theme of this book is that you are only as smart and capable as your tribe, and that by upgrading your tri
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Angelique
Oct 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Really liked this book. Unlike a lot of leadership books that tell you what a good leader "looks like", this book tells you how to grow them. It does a great job of explaining the development cycle a person must go through to get to "Stage 4" which is considered a "Tribal Leader". The emphasis placed on relationships was powerful as well.

It got 4 stars instead of 5 stars because at times it was confusing as to whether the authors meant to be referencing the leader or the "tribe" when they were t
...more
Dionysis Doul
Nov 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An eye-opening book about what are the different stages in company cultures, and what could make them succeed really big things. The majority of them operate in a "stage three" culture, where everyone operates for themselves, with a "i'm great (but you're not)" mentality. Whereas, a "stage four" tribe operates with a "we're great" mentality, but the ultimate goal is a "stage five" tribe, where the mentality is "life is great".
I believe that the principles of the book apply to life in general.
To
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Naomi Toftness
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
I had to read this for work, since this is the philosophy of our CEO. While it helps me understand choices made at my place of employment, I find some aspects of the language used problematic and dismissive. Essentially, I just don't agree with the underlying philosophies of the structure. However, any attempt at understanding human behaviors is a good lens for which to understand one another better.
Honestly, unless you are specifically in a culture of USING the tribal leadership model, watchin
...more
Hope Harris-Gayles
Feb 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
I'm listened to this as audiobook (free download from Zappos.com), and I really enjoyed it. As a budding leader, the book brought some behaviors to my attention that I will need to work on and improve so I can reach my full potential. I'm easily bored with audiobooks (mind wandering, etc) so its a true testament to Tribal Leadership that those didn't happen (or at least happened minimally). Recommended for leaders and leaders to be.
Ryan
Mar 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't usually read books about organizational or "work culture" but this was a book I needed to read now. It was part manual, part autobiography. The book explains the different types of workers; and illuminates how their attitudes are critical ( or detrimental) to workplace culture. It is an important book for anybody working in a team of people to understand how the group attitude effects the outcome of the product or service.
Dan Graham
Jan 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: business
There are some good parts to this book but overall it makes a bunch of claims that seem a bit made up to me. It puts business folks into 5 categories of development and asserts that certain traits are better than others without any data to back it up.
Uttam Kini
Oct 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: management-gyan
A great book that changes the way you look at teams and people. Whenever I see people now, I go, there's a typical stage 3 trying to sell himself, this guy is a stage 4 leader putting the team before himself. It will keep you interested till the very end.
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“Change the language in the tribe, and you have changed the tribe itself.” 9 likes
“[Don Beck] said, after hearing about the three stages of epiphany, "There's a word in the Bantu languages that [Archbishop Desmond] Tutu has used to help bring the entire country of South Africa together: ubuntu, meaning 'Today I share with you because tomorrow you share with me.'" The word can also be translated "I am because we are.” 4 likes
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