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WE-Centric Leadership and Tribal Leadership Differentiated

December 24, 2011

WE-Centric Leadership and Tribal Leadership are two distinct bodies of wisdom (BoWs) focused on Organizational Health (high performance cultures and thriving organizations). Each contributes a unique paradigm / worldview well grounded in practice (based on significant empirical research) regarding human nature (integrating Culture, Leadership, Strategy, and the Enterprise/Organization) with similarities and differences.

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 — focuses on building a thriving organization by leveraging natural groups, that is, synchronizing culture and strategy by focusing on language and relationship structures.

Tribal Leadership emphasizes:

  • Five Cultural Stages (Stage 1: “Life sucks”; Stage 2: “My life sucks”; Stage 3: “I’m great (and you’re not)”; Stage 4: “We’re great (and they’re not)”; and Stage 5: “Life is great”),
  • Triads and Triading (and the Epiphany), and
  • Tribal Strategy (micro strategy) (Core Values, Noble Cause; Outcomes; Assets; and Behaviors).

The essence of Tribal Leadership are Triads and Triading; that is, for the Tribal Leader, everything happens through Triads and Triading. Notice that Tribal Leadership does not emphasize Behavior as much as Language and Relationship Structures, but does emphasize Strategy more so (relative to WE-Centric Leadership).

See Human Leadership for more information about Tribal Leadership.

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 (@JudithEGlaser and @CreatingWE)), The DNA Of Leadership: Leverage Your Instincts To Communicate, Differentiate, Innovate (2006) (Judith E Glaser (@JudithEGlaser and @CreatingWE)), and the Creating-WE Institute — focuses on building a healthy, thriving organization by leveraging vital instincts, that is, changing I-thinking to WE-thinking by focusing on language and conversations.

WE-Centric Leadership emphasizes:

  • Unhealthy or toxic cultures with an I-centric fingerprint and Healthy or nontoxic cultures with a WE-centric fingerprint;
  • Creating WE via
    — Believing WE focused on changing attitudes or beliefs (around Authority, Territoriality, and Self-Interest),
    — Learning WE focused on adopting new habits of mind and behaviors (around Culture, Possibilities, Space, and Conversations), and
    — Being WE focused on expressing WE-consciousness (around Working in Concert and Sustaining WE); and
  • Leadership DNA (Community, Humanizing, Aspiring, Navigating, Generating, Expressing, and Spirit).

The essence of WE-Centric Leadership are Conversations; that is, for the WE-Centric Leader, everything happens through Conversations. Notice that WE-Centric Leadership does not emphasize Strategy as much as Language and Conversations (which embody Behaviors and Relationship Structures), but does emphasizes Behavior more so (relative to Tribal Leadership).

See Human Leadership for more information about WE-Centric Leadership.

WE-Centric Leadership and Tribal Leadership

WE-Centric Leadership and Tribal Leadership champion a Leader-Leader / Follower-Follower or Fellowship model of Leadership versus a Leader-Follower model of Leadership.

Stages vs. Unhealthy-Healthy

While the Tribal Leader distinguishes between Stages 1 & 2 & 3 and Stages 4 & 5, the WE-Centric Leader only distinguishes between Unhealthy and Healthy cultures. Consider that Stages 1 & 2 & 3 are Unhealthy while Stages 4 & 5 are Healthy, Stage 2 is more Unhealthy than Stage 3, and Stage 5 is more Healthy than Stage 4.

While the Tribal Leader experiences the Epiphany and upgrades the Stage of a tribe (with emphasis on “natural groups”), the WE-Centric Leader experiences Creating WE and fosters the Health of a group (with an emphasis on “vital instincts”).

Triads and Triading vs. Conversations

While the Tribal Leader focuses on Triads and Triading, that is relationship structures, the WE-Centric Leader focuses on Conversations, that is relationship structures and behaviors. While a Triad (within a tribe) generally involves three people anchoring each other, a Conversation (within a group) involves any number of people anchoring each other (as a network).

Fundamentally, a triad involves three legs where each leg (anchor) of the triad is responsible (accountable) for the quality of the relationship between the other two parts, presencing missing core value when the opposite leg is “unhealthy”.

While the Tribal Leader leverages a Tribal Strategy, the WE-Centric Leader expresses WE-consciousness via Leadership DNA.

How do You Experience the World?

While Tribal Leadership and WE-Centric Leadership are similar, they are distinct in emphasizing different nuances of how we experience human nature and leadership. In particular,

  • If you experience the world through stages and triads, perhaps you are more-so a Tribal Leader;
  • If you experience the world through health and conversations, perhaps you are more-so a WE-Centric Leader; and
  • If you blend stages with health and traids with conversations, perhaps you are more-so a WE-Centric Tribal Leader.
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