Do you find the term Tribe is overused? I don’t disagree, it’s been thrown around on Social Media a lot lately. But it’s one of the most important concepts for growing leaders, so I’m sticking to it!
‘A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate’ says Seth Godin in his book ‘Tribes – We Need You to Lead Us’.
‘Tribes’ was one of the first leadership books I read when I started my coaching practice in 2013 and the idea of having a tribe aligned so much with me. Being a solopreneur in an industry that was new to me, I felt like I needed a support system. Not just knowledge, books and courses, but people I could bounce ideas off, who were supportive and critical at the same time, who would listen and call me on my BS when I needed it. I knew I needed a diverse Tribe to be able grow and stretch myself. It wasn’t about the size of the Tribe for me, it was about the quality and trust. I was quite intentional about who I wanted to surround myself with and ended up with 5 people with different backgrounds, some friends, some business partners. I still have the same number of people in my Tribe but they have changed overtime.
Why is it important to have a tribe? As Godin says: ‘Human beings can’t help it: we need to belong. One of the most powerful of our survival mechanisms is to part of a tribe, to contribute (and take from) a group of like-minded people.’ So it’s natural to belong not to only one but too many tribes. But I want to put it into leadership journey context. Amanda Stevens talks about: ‘Widen your network, tighten your circle’. As a growing leader we rely on the meaningful connections we make. Make lots of connections through networking (check out my blog, Networking in a Hybrid World) but surround yourself with a small number of people who help you to grow and develop.
Here are some strategies for building your tribe:
- Choose people who are like-minded but have different experience levels. The trap we fall into is that we hang out with people who are very much the same as us. I chose to include 2 people in my tribe who are much more experienced so I can learn from them.
- Choose people who don’t judge you. You want them to judge your work and give you feedback but not judge you as a person. I like my tribe to call me on my BS. Like when I fall victim to my own bias or I let self-limiting beliefs overtake my confidence.
- Even if you only have 2 trusted people in your tribe, that’s ok. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. As Robin Dunbar shows in his research, we can only have meaningful social relationships with up to 150 people so about 5 people in your leadership tribe sounds good to me
- Chose people from diverse backgrounds. They don’t all have to be friends. Imagine the person you want to learn the most from, even if they are senior, ask them for a coffee and check if they would like to mentor you. Chances are they say yes. I asked my public speaking coach (who is very famous in the industry) for a coffee catch up. We ended up giving each other advice as it turns out I have a lot to give too and we now meet regularly.
- Walk away from people who don’t serve you. Building your tribe also means letting go of people who don’t have your best interest at heart, only always take or get jealous about your success. Walking away is just as important as adding to your tribe
- Replace when you outgrow them. It’s nothing personal but you will find that at some stage you outgrow some of your tribe members, or they outgrow you. Stay in touch but find people who stretch you and who you can learn from.
- Stay in touch, reach out and give back. You want to have regular catch ups with your tribe. Make sure you plan your catch ups, what you want to talk about, how you give back to them. It doesn’t have to be overly formal but you should set an intention.
It’s all about starting so put pen to paper and start building your tribe and get contacting.
If you want to work with me email me on firstname.lastname@example.org