Tribal Leadership: Tribes and Tribal Leaders

Part 1: Tribal Leadership: Tribes and Tribal Leaders
Part 2: Tribal Leadership: Tribal Stages and Leverage Points
Part 3: Tribal Leadership: From “I” to “We”
Part 4: Tribal Leadership: Tribal Strategy

Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization is the result of a ten-year, 24,000 person, organizational research study by Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright on how leaders leverage natural groups to build thriving organizations.

A tribe is a naturally forming group, a basic sociological unit, between 20 and 150 people (Dunbar’s Number). Birds flock, fish school, and people tribe!

A tribe is the basic building block of any large human endeavor. An organization is composed of tribes, a small organization is a single tribe, and a large organization is a tribe of tribes. As tribes are the most powerful vehicles within organizations, cultures are their engines!


Every tribe has a dominant culture, which can be identified as a stage on a scale of one-to-five. Generally, a tribe with a higher cultural stage will outperform a tribe with a lower cultural stage. People and tribes naturally move one stage at a time, but the vast majority of people and tribes become stuck in the middle stages.

The stage of a tribe emerges from language, behavior, and relationship structures. Each stage has a specific fingerprint, which includes the language that people in a tribe use to describe themselves and their work, observable behavior toward others in the tribe, and relationships with others in the tribe. From language, a theme is observable and from behavior (and relationship structures), a mood results. Each stage has a unique set of leverage points that will unstick and nudge the tribe forward, and enable the natural progression through the stages to continue. Likewise, just as tribes advance one stage at a time, they may also degrade one stage at a time.

Tribal Leaders

A tribal leader builds a tribe by upgrading its culture. As the leader upgrades the tribe, the tribe embraces the leader, and the tribe and leader create each other.

Tribal leaders nudge language so that it morphs, and by changing the language (only one stage above the current stage) in a tribe, tribal leaders change the tribe itself. Tribal leaders foster triadic relationship structures around resonant core values and a noble cause. Tribal leaders use leverage points to unstick the tribe so that the tribe naturally glides to the next stage.

Tribal Leadership

Tribal Leadership is a process that focuses on language and relationship structures within a culture to nudge a tribe forward. Nudging involves intervening leverage points to change language and setup different types of relationship structures.


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