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In this episode Joel and Antonia talk about having Dave Logan at TEDxSinCity and his book Tribal Leadership. It is a great model for building businesses “on purpose.”


In this podcast on Tribal Leadership you’ll find:

  • Have you ever been in a company where people seem to be very alive? Or maybe on a company where morale is low?
  • Company culture is important because it can make or break your company.
  • How do you get that desired culture and make sure that everyone else is onboard with morale?
  • How do you bring everyone to the same level?
  • Tribal leadership is one of the best leadership models to not only figure out but also have an action plan to bring people to higher levels.
  • In business, it’s really important that your people are empowered at their jobs/roles.
  • We love creating tribes as people. Whether it’s at the workplace or a small group, we just love tribes.
  • In the book (Tribal Leadership), a tribe is described as a group of people comprising about 20 and 100 people. If it’s less than 20 people, they call it a team. If it’s over 150 people the tribe divides into two different tribes. This is because 150 people are too many to handle and manage.
  • You can tell what makes a tribe successful based on its culture.
  • Tribes are almost always powerful than leadership.
  • If you want to change the culture, you alter the language or the words that are used in the culture.
  • The culture of the tribe is all about stories and narratives, like how we believe we’re communicating with each other within the tribe.
  • The 5 stages of culture levels.
  • Tribal 1. Behavior is undermining. The language being used at this level is “Life Sucks”. Only 2% of the population is at level 1. Anything new that’s introduced will be dealt with suspicion. People in this level will assume that more will come. There’s a sense of undermining anything that can possibly be positive.
    • One the best ways to help move people from level 1 to 2 is to alter the language being used. Reinforce the concept that other people’s lives don’t suck. Introduce the idea that other people are having an awesome time at work. This will help them realize and reframe their mentality. Help them understand that there’s positivity happening elsewhere. Encourage them to join group meetings and have people articulate success and great positive stories. Keep the negative language at a minimum. Encourage them (people at 1s) to no longer hangout with other
  • Tribal 2. Instead of the universe sucks and seeing the world as a terrible place, people of this level thinks that their life sucks and everybody else is having a great time. Instead of being aggressively undermining, it’s more of a victim mentality. Instead of being alienated from the team, it’s more of separation. 25% of people are at this level.
    • To get a 2 up to 3, it’s a matter of changing the language and then really helping them understand that they do bring something to the table. Encourage them to establish those 1-1 relationships. Assign them projects that will give them quick success. Give them the emotion of empowerment.
  • Tribal 3. This has the highest level of population at 49%, nearly half of everybody. “I’m great, everybody else sucks”. It’s the idea of “you’re awesome and everybody else sucks”. The behavior is described as a “lone warrior”. This can be seen in many types of cultures. Everybody wants to be the expert. You can see this in the professional world like doctors, lawyers and architects. People in level 3 have this mentality because there is no actual goal that the community is working toward. Since there’s no bigger goal to accomplish and you can only see competition.
    • In most cases, you will see 3s organically level up to 4s as they grow older. It’s the language of making everyone feel that they’re all awesome. Have bigger ideals that everyone is working towards. The ideals does not have to be corporate missions. It could just be core values. Core values create a language and story amongst the tribe.
  • Tribal 4. “We’re Awesome” and the other tribe sucks. At this level, the importance of relationships is understood in a deeper level. Access to resources are done triads. The resource is able to expand his networking reach. The idea is about being awesome and how we’re all great as a tribe. Tribal 4 is a bit idealistic. Example: professional American football.
    • When 4s work on a project, that’s when they level up to 5. When the project is over, they shift over to 4 and check in what the competition is doing.
  • Tribal 5. This group only has 2% of the population. “Life is great”, “The universe is great and everyone is wonderful”. There’s a lot of infrastructure alteration in order to attain 5 and you need to go through all these levels to get there.
  • 5 is not the end goal. 4 is the sweet spot and they just become 5 from time to time when they are working on a project.
  • This model doesn’t only help figure out where we’re at, it also helps us understand our narratives and figure out how we can move to the next phase.
  • So what tribal level are you in? Can you be a leader in the tribe? Can you be somebody who encourages people to get to the next level? What is the healthier level you can go to in order to increase positivity? What environment are you looking for to plug yourself into if you want to get to the next level? Let us know on the comments section.

Dave Logan at TEDxSinCity 2011 Talking About Tribal Leadership


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  • Hunter

    If the answer to the question of “who am I competing with” has always been MYSELF, does that mean I am perpetually operating at level 5?

    That could sound appealing based on the podcast, but the real hurdles are being an INTJ team of 1 who now at mid-life lacks the skills to play (or work) well with others and who is steimied by the inability to get traction or desired results on projects because no person is an island unto themselves.

    I’m having real issues working through this conundrum, though I maintain an unwavering faith in myself and that transcendence is not only possible, but is probablly at my fingertips. All I have to do is keep fighting the good fight and never surrender.

    Your input is welcome…Thank you.

    • Charis Branson

      Thank you for your comment Hunter.

      I’m not sure how much you have explored our website, but here is a great article I think you will strongly resonate with:

      To learn a little more about this, we have a Personality Assessment Starter Kit that goes a little deeper in explaining your cognitive functions and how they show up:

      Thanks for being a PH Podcast listener!

    • Antonia Dodge

      I’ll add to Charis’ comment that the foundation of the model is based on being in a context where you’re working with others. When working in a ‘tribe’ was is your attitude about them? Do you feel like you’re all on the same team and working toward something bigger? Or do you feel like you’re the only one that can get things done?

      I tend to only compete with myself, too. By the same token I tend to avoid working with other people in general. In that case I’m not Tribal Level anything, since I’m not in a tribe.

      As you mentioned, the only way to get big things done is to work collectively and once I’m in that context, suddenly my Tribal Level becomes very important (and obvious).


  • Amber N.

    That was pretty interesting. I took a page full of notes and can’t wait to get the book. I stay away from the mbti communities too. I peeked in a few times and was overwhelmed by the arguing and name calling. I’m not looking to be smarter than anyone, I just want to grow and find my place. 🙂 Keep the podcasts coming!

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for being a PH Podcast listener, Amber! I thought it was fascinating how many groups within society fell so easily into the various levels. It definitely makes us more mindful of our actions and reactions.

  • Karissa

    I think I am a 3. I came out of this podcast feeling a bit embarrassed and determined to grow. Thank you.

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for the feedback, Karissa! Don’t be embarrassed. A lot of people are 3s. What I thought was interesting was how I seemed to fluctuate between levels based upon what I was working on. I guess the important thing is identifying when we are dwelling on the lower levels and reminding ourselves to be more connected. Knowledge brings responsibility.

      Thanks for being a PH Podcast listener!

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