What’s your tribal culture?
That’s the first question we were faced with at last weekend’s Fast Track Super Conference in Edmonton. This year’s theme: “Discover your tribal leadership strategy.”
We all live in tribes, groupings of 20-150 people that form a “tribal culture.” According to the book Tribal Leadership, five stages of tribal cultures have been identified. As leaders, we need to relate to all of them, and help people move up through the stages.
Stage 1 was described as Life Sucks! People with this perspective coalesce to form a tribal culture that withdraws from mainstream society. Stage 1 tribes find expression in gangs and prison inmate cultures. About 2% of people tend to be here.  The challenge is to help them get to stage 2.
Stage 2 tribes share the perspective of My life sucks! There is a recognition that life doesn’t have to suck, because not everyone else’s sucks. So this stage is much more hopeful. About 25% of people fall into this tribal culture.
Stage 3 is characterized by I’m great (and you’re not)! Here is where the largest group, about 48% survive and, perhaps, thrive—and stay here forever. Some people find success in this stage but it is limiting; there is so much more that can be accomplished if they move up to Stage 4.
Stage 4 tribes share the perspective We’re great! They understand that, working together, we can do so much more than any one of us can alone. They value teams. And that is what we are always challenged with at leadership conferences. We were pushed at this conference to move to this level, where approx. 22% of people reside.
Finally, the fifth stage says Life is great! This 2% of the population is beyond needing to get themselves ahead and, instead, have a passion to change the world. (Of course, having achieved great success at lower stages, they no longer have the same needs, especially financially, that many of the rest of us do.) This stage, happily, seemed to be where most of the leaders of this conference dwell.
It was said that tribes tend to hear only about one level above or below where they are at. It is the challenge of leaders to communicate with all tribal levels. It was mentioned, too, that we may move up and down among the various stages in our own journeys. Even fifth stage people may have moments when they revert temporarily to second stage perspective. But their tribes don`t dwell there.
It reminded me of the story of three brick-layer’s helpers, all doing the same job—mixing mud and carrying bricks—who were asked what kind of work they did. One dolefully replied: “I mix mud and carry bricks; I’m just a labourer.”
A second answered, “I’m helping my boss build this brick wall.” A third enthused, “I’m building this condo for people who need homes.”
It seems to me that these three, though all doing the same job, were speaking from different tribal cultures.
The question is, what is the culture of the tribe you tend to reside in the most? Can your influence move it up one level?
Of course, I need to apply this learning to myself. How am I doing as director of Fraser Valley Rent 2 own? Thankfully, I have a good team in place—lawyer, realtor, mortgage broker, inspector, investors. But I’m challenged to continually strengthen and build that team, to make the program stronger, and so be able to help more people. I want to be comfortable no lower than stage 4.

Ron Geddert