My fellow tribalist and I nearly went to Warminster over this blog post.
You see, we have different perspectives not, I hasten to add, beliefs on what constitutes the nurturing of tribes.
Mark’s tribal viewpoint: masculine
When Marlon Brando’s character in Apocalypse Now, Colonel Walter E. Kurtz of the US Army’s Special Forces, goes rogue in the jungles of Vietnam he creates a highly threatening tribe of American soldiers and indigenous Montagnard renegades that regard him as a, flawed, demigod.
It’s an extreme, but highly compelling, example of tribal leadership that, despite the dubious motivations, demonstrates that great leadership can be so inspiring that it can overcome the far greater influence of an institution as powerful as the US Army.
What Kurtz lacked in sanity he more than made up for in charisma and pure inspiration.
That, masculine view is based on leadership, dogma, didactic rules, regardless of how aggressive it might be.
You join Mark’s tribe to follow a cause that you strongly believe in, respect and admire.
It’s a ‘pull’ approach.
Rebecca’s tribal viewpoint: feminine
I’m more feminine in my belief. But by that I don’t mean soft and fluffy. Far from it.
My tribes, and the kind I teach my clients to nurture, are an altogether less dogmatic bunch.
Think Beatlemania. Or Oprah.
The Beatles didn’t set out to ‘pull’ a tribe to them. It just happened, like Oprah, their fans gravitated to them, their values were admired, shared and advocated.
The point is, people grow their tribes in different way; Walter Kurtz’z gang were no less committed than Ringo Starr’s and, indeed both can, and do, co-exist.
Both have a clear vision and mission to empower their grass root supporters to go and do what they want to do.
But they are glued together very differently.
I think you’ll agree that when our two tribes go to Warminster mine will win because fundamentally it’s stronger.
I’ve built a hub that the people I like and admire have been drawn to, they work with me, not for me.
My tribe is a fluid group of people who are in my world right now; it’s not structured. Having my tribe around me just ‘happened’.
I have certainly never aspired to be a tribal leader, but I’d like to think I’m a tribal influencer.
And I’ve grown it by being consciously self-conscious.
It allows me to present myself as the very best version of me.
Tribalism is, today, recognised as an inescapable consequence of community-creation. Nowhere more so than in the workplace, where people are thrown together with little or no real personal reason to associate with their fellow workers, other than to achieve the goal of making a living, providing for their loved ones and heading back to their ‘chosen’ social tribe to enjoy the fruits of that labour.
But we all know it’s not as simple as that.
As soon as a workplace begins to grow, tribal behaviours naturally take root. And it’s these behaviours that influence the overall experience.
That’s why it’s critical to not just be aware of the tribes you are facilitating, ideally nurturing, in your workplace, but to ensure they are a vital part of the ecology you want to maintain.
Tribes don’t all form with the blessing of the business, because the behaviours that define them are not always encouraged or nurtured by the owner and so, like Kurtz’s followers, can be a reaction to, not an evocation of, the culture the business is hoping and trying to create.
In the worst instances multiple tribes emerge and tribal warfare can be an undesired consequence.
My gravitation to entrepreneurship was a reaction to the corporate culture, and the tribal infighting that I experienced in the recruitment industry.
Nothing about those ‘tribes’ satisfied my needs for belonging, shared values, deep personal respect or any real sense of who I was or why I was practicing in this environment, other than to serve the functional requirements of feeding my family.
And what’s more, no-one in management seemed to be doing anything about fixing this toxicity.
I’ve thankfully eschewed corporate tribalism (the pursuit of shareholder value really), just as my entrepreneurial clients have — the people I love working with. My tribe.
I now find myself coaching them on how best to create their own cultures, not cults, that recognises and rewards positive behaviours in such a way that their, your, tribes are made up of people that are like-minded in their ambitions, culturally aware, healthily loyal, T-shirt wearing, card carriers for their businesses.
Complement Coaching is all about helping entrepreneurial businesses, mostly at a manageable stage of their growth, before Warminster has ever been circled in red on the battlefield, to clearly identify what it is that they are defining as their business. To give it value, purpose, meaning and, ultimately, reward.
But I also remind the people I work with of the futility of combat.
“When two tribes go to war. A point is all that you can score.”