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Human Leadership: Servant, Appreciative, WE-Centric, and Tribal Leadership

November 7, 2010

Servant, Appreciative, WE-Centric, and Tribal Leadership are four very practical leadership models focused on Organizational Health (high performance cultures and thriving organizations). While each model contributes a unique paradigm / worldview regarding human nature (integrating Culture, Leadership, Strategy, and the Enterprise/Organization), they share various overlapping aspects concerning Human Leadership.

Please see the the sections below for background information on Servant, Appreciative, WE-Centric, and Tribal Leadership.

Please note that this blog post will be further elaborated and currently only provides a cursory exploration of the the various overlapping aspects.

Overlapping Aspects


(click figure to enlarge)

Servant Leadership’s “wants to serve, serve first” and “conscious choice” “to aspire to lead” is perhaps quintessential. Leadership must not be about the self but about aspiring and being in service of something more than the self.

Appreciative Leadership’s Inquiry emphasizes valuing others and their contributions, Illumination emphasizes fostering confidence and encouragement in others, Inclusion emphasizes collaboration & co-creation & belonging, Inspiration emphasizes fostering a vision, and Integrity emphasizes connection to the whole.

Servant Leadership and Appreciative Leadership generally form the basis for Tribal Leadership’s triadic structures. Coaches and Tribal Leaders may leverage elements of Servant Leadership and Appreciative Leadership to foster triads.

WE-Centric Leadership’s Creating WE involves: Believing WE emphasizes changing attitudes regarding how we organize, Learning WE emphasizes adopting new habits regarding how we behave, and Being WE emphasizes expressing our consciousness through our actions.

WE-Centric Leadership’s Creating WE generally correlates to Tribal Leadership’s journey from stage three (“I’m Great (and You’re Not)”) to stage four (“We’re Great (and They’re Not)”) via the Epiphany (“I am Because We Are”). Coaches and Tribal Leaders may leverage aspects of WE-Centric Leadership to upgrade tribes from stage three to stage four.

WE-Centric Leadership’s C-H-A-N-G-E-S leadership genes emphasize Inclusive, Appreciating, Aspirational, Sharing/Learning, Risk-taking, Developing, and Commitment focused leadership versus Exclusive, Criticizing/Judging, Fear Based, Silo-mentality, Punish Risk-taking, Dictates, and Compliance focused leadership.

WE-Centric Leadership’s C-H-A-N-G-E-S leadership genes generally correlate to Tribal Leadership’s Zone of Tribal Leadership (stage four). Coaches and Tribal Leader may leverage aspects of WE-Centric Leadership to stabilize effective tribes at stage four.

WE-Centric Leadership and Tribal Leadership champion a Leader-Leader / Follower-Follower or Fellowship model of Leadership versus a Leader-Follower model of Leadership; thus, they are more encompassing.


Servant Leadership

Servant Leadership — as described in Servant Leadership: A journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power & Greatness (Robert K. Greenleaf) and the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership:

The servant-leader is servant first … It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions … The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.

Appreciative Leadership

Appreciative Leadership — as described in Appreciative Leadership: Focus on What Works to Drive Winning Performance and Build a Thriving Organization (2010) (Diana Whitney (@DianaWhitneyPhD), Amanda Trosten-Bloom (@ATrostenBloom), and Kae Rader), Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change (2005) (David L Cooperrider (@D_Cooperrider) and Diana Whitney (@DianaWhitneyPhD)), and the Corporation for Positive ChangeAppreciative Inquiry Commons:

Appreciative leadership is a relational capacity to mobilize creative potential and turn it into positive power — to set in motion positive ripples of confidence, energy, enthusiasm and performance — to make a positive difference in the world.

Embedded in this definition are four formative ideas about Appreciative Leadership: (1) it is relational; (2) it is positive; (3) it is about turning potential into positive power; and (4) it has rippling effects.

Appreciative Leadership … coalesces into five areas of relational practice — what we call the Five Core Strategies of Appreciative Leadership. Each strategy is a means by which Appreciative Leadership successfully unleashes potential and elevates positive performance.

  • Inquiry: Ask positively powerful questions. … Inquiry lets people know that you value them and their contributions.
    Appreciative Leadership fosters a culture of full-voice, high-engagement inquire [a culture of inquiry]. … people participate in the Appreciative Inquiry 4-D process.

    • Discovery [Appreciating: What gives life (the best of what is)]: Together they identify strengths and core competencies, and they “map the organization’s positive core.”
    • Dream [Envisioning Results: What might be (what is the world calling for)]: They collectively envision positive possibilities for the future, articulate a shared vision, and select strategic opportunities to focus on.
    • Design [Co-constructing: What should be the ideal?]: They create aspiration statements for each opportunity and design the processes and structures needed to achieve them.
    • Destiny [Sustaining: How to empower, learn and adjust/improvise?]: They scope out a collaborative path forward and make personal commitments to contribute their strengths and resources to realize their shared aspirations.
  • Illumination: Bring out the best of people and situations. … Illumination helps people understand how they can best contribute.
  • Inclusion: Engage with people to coauthor the future. … Inclusion gives people a sense of belonging.
  • Inspiration: Awaken the creative spirit. … Inspiration provides people with a sense of direction.
  • Integrity: Make choices for the good of the whole. … Integrity lets people know that they are expected to give their best for the greater good, and that they can trust others to do the same.

WE-Centric Leadership

WE-Centric Leadership — as described in Creating We: Change I-Thinking to We-Thinking and Build a Healthy, Thriving Organization (2005) (Judith E. Glaser (@CreatingWE)), The DNA Of Leadership: Leverage Your Instincts To Communicate, Differentiate, Innovate (2006) (Judith E Glaser (@CreatingWE)), and the Creating-WE Institute:

Old-style leaders and managers believe they should have all the answers and their people expect solutions to come from the top. New-style leaders and managers don’t believe they have all the answers, but they engage people in coming up with them. I call this WE-centric leadership. WE-centric leaders realize that WE is the power that fuels corporate growth. They know they don’t need to know all the answers, and they also know that in the face of unprecedented change, inclusive behaviors radically shift the power dynamics toward partnering and positively influence productivity and quality in a company.

Creating WE consist of three parts: Believing WE, Learning WE, and Being WE.

  • Believing WE is about changing attitudes about organizations and the ways one is supposed to behave in them: The Challenge of Authority; The Challenge of Territoriality; and The Challenge of Self-Interest.
  • Learning WE is about adopting new habits of mind and behaviors and learning new skills (and unlearning old ones): Understanding the Culture; Embracing the Possibilities; Opening the Space; Shaping the Conversations; and Transforming the Culture.
  • Being WE shows how to face stressful situations in real time and express WE-consciousness through actions in the moment: Working in Concert and Sustaining WE.

Leaders influence the culture of an organization. We’ve identified a set of dimensions that, I believe, dramatically influence how leadership is expressed in organizations [Regressive I-Centric/Protect (Dictate-Imitate-Stagnate) or Progressive WE-Centric/Partner (Communicate-Differentiate-Innovate) through the C-H-A-N-G-E-S leadership genes]:

  • C: Community/Co-Creating (The Context We Set) — Breaking down walls and inviting others in, rather than erecting and enforcing boundaries to keep others out. [Exclusive (Power-over) or Inclusive (Power-with)]
  • H: Humanity/Humanizing (The Relationships We Build) — Empathy for the feelings everyone has, rather than pointing fingers to preserve your own. [Judging (Criticizing) or Appreciating]
  • A: Aspiration/Aspiring (The Dreams We Hold) — Allowing others to dream freely, rather than waking them up to “how things get done”. [Limiting (Fear Based) or Expanding]
  • N: Navigation/Navigating (The Actions We Take) — Letting others set the course and share the wheel, rather than jealously guarding the compass and the helm. [Territorial and Scarcity (Silo-mentality) or Share and Abundance]
  • G: Generatively/Generating (The Ideas We Evolve) — Pushing the boundaries of the status quo, allowing new wisdom to emerge, rather than reverting to what has worked before. [Persuading and Knowing (Punish Risk-taking) or Generative and Wondering (Risk-taking)]
  • E: Expressing (The Words We Choose) — Allowing individual greatness to emerge and benefit all, rather than shouting the voice of authority. [Autocratic and Controlling (Dictates) or Developing and Encouraging]
  • S: Spirit/Synchronizing (The Purpose and Passion We Live) — Attaching everyone to a larger purpose and acknowledging group achievement with enthusiasm and joy, rather than pursuing self-aggrandizement. [Compliance or Commitment]

Tribal Leadership

Tribal Leadership — as described in Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization (2008) (Dave Logan (@davelogan1), John King (@kingofla), and Halee Fischer-Wright) and CultureSync:

Tribal Leadership focuses on language and behavior within a culture.

Tribal Leaders do two things: (1) listen for which cultures [stages one, two, three, four, or five] exist in their tribes and (2) upgrade those tribes using specific leverage points.

Tribal Leaders focus on triads, three-legged relationships, with each leg of the structure responsible for the quality of the relationship between the other two parts.

Tribal Leaders focus on setting strategy, which has five parts: values, noble cause, outcomes, assets, and behaviors.

A “Tribal Leader” is a leader whose teams produce vastly superior results by synchronizing culture and strategy. To this end they consistently stabilize and effectively develop other people around them who lead from their role and expertise.

See Tribal Leadership in a Nutshell for more information.

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