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How to do Tribal Leadership

Being forced to work under pressure is ACCEPTABLE / NOT ACCEPTABLE.

Which category do you fall into?

Have you ever wondered about internal organization dynamics and why some groups of people (who aren’t on the same team) are more successful than others? We know that just like how birds migrate in flocks and cattle move in herds, people have naturally formed tribes throughout history, and for good reason: We need each other to survive.

Let´s go way back in time. Because...

  1. The way we see humans today are not the natural humans.

  2. The way leadership works today is not for the natural human.

Well, what is natural human then?

In the Americas, when they were starting to colonize those areas, they came across different types of people.

  • When you came into the middle Americas, they were able to enslave those people. They were used to agriculture and farming and paying taxes to the government. So when the new government came in, that was maybe more harsh than the previous one. But even so, they were bred in a culture and a process of like, being a part of a group working together paying some people like what we consider normal.


  • When they came into North America, where there were only wild tribes, people that didn't have much agriculture, they refused to be enslaved, they refused to work. They would rather accept the death penalty. They tortured them, killed them publicly, men, women, children, nobody but would give them anything, they refused working under pressure.


All these structures we see around us, make a certain human succeed. As an example... a lawyer is a very specific, highly trained specialist at dealing with legal issues, but this role can only exist in a complex society. In a very basic society, “jungle“, consisting of 20 to 150 people, who live wildly, have no farming, scavenge for food, lawyers, IT professionals, teachers don't exist. They are defined as fierce and egalitarian.

As a fierce egalitarian, I live my life like I want to live it you live your life as you want to live it and we collaborate on equal terms. If I want something you want, we can collaborate, but nobody forces me to do anything.
And that is a normal human being without all the structures around us.

  • Are you familiar with the term ”Tribal Leadership”?

  • Who is the ”Big Man”, and what can today´s organizations learn from this tribal perspective?

  • What can a tribal leader do and what can´t he do?

If you want answers to these questions, then read this short story called: ”The Big Man”

The ”Big Man”

There was a boy helping a fellow Western traveller, who did some bird photography, and he needed somebody to help carry his bags. He had one 30-year-old man and the man´s 10-year-old nephew. In 5 days, the man had to get back to his people. The child however, didn´t have much to do so he wanted to continue with helping the Westerner for another month. The uncle would go back and inform the child´s parents, who would be okay with that. So, the 10-year-old boy is already an individual, who can make his own life decisions. This is how egalitarian people are. They don't have leaders like we do. They don't have elections on who's going to have power, it's not inherited, they have what they call, a big man. The big man is the person who carries the most weight and has the most respect. Why? He is able to take the needs of the people around him, help them understand and help them reach what they want to achieve. He can do that. He's competent and he is respected. If something needs to happen, as long as the interests are aligned, the Big Man represents the interests of the group to the extent the group allows him to. He doesn´t have power over individuals, he doesn´t force anyone.

Key Takeaways:

  1. “Tribal Leadership” is about leveraging the natural phenomenon of human tribes to improve any organizational team performance, engagement, and job satisfaction by first identifying, and then upgrading, the culture of the tribe.

  2. It is a transformational strategy where the organization begins to understand its employees at a much deeper level. Tribal Leadership will show how you, as the “tribal leader,” can guide your tribe (your company) to higher levels, resulting in a healthier and more productive work environment. By understanding our shared tribal tendencies, values, mindset, work ethic, so called „aligned incentives”, we can help lead each other to become better individuals and achieve common goal.

  3. We should go deep into ourselves to our roots, and use that as an understanding how people would like to behave. And that's the way you should lead.



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