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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tribal Leadership: Stage 5 Tribes

Stage Five Tribes: “Life is Great” is the mantra of the rare 2% of tribes that make it to this level. These are the folks that operate at a level above the fray. They change the world, so there are only a very few of them out there. This rare tribe decides to have global impact over merely tribal competition and even being great themselves. They’re literally out to “save the world.” The authors note how rare such tribes are, and if the book has any failing, it’s that this stage is not discussed in anywhere near the depth I would have liked. I think it’s because the authors were spending the time where they thought they could do the most good for the most tribes. Some examples of stage five tribes that produce amazing innovations: Amgen, Macintosh, and the 1980’s USA hockey team. Just think what could happen in the world if we could get the level of tribes at this stage from 2% to 10%.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tribal Leadership: Stage 4 Tribes

Stage Four Tribes: The people at this stage (22% of groups) describe life in general as “we’re great.” They use a lot of “we,” “us,” and “our” language. These people naturally build triads and encourage relationships between relationships based on shared cultures and values. They exude tribal pride. Companies that get to this level tend to be industry leaders—often the best in class. Amgen was used as such an example, where the leader instilled a “we’re great” mentality that took that company to the top of the pharma ladder. Encourage stage four people to balance their relationship or values and opportunities. Inculcate values-based leadership and training and development with staff. Recruit others to the tribe. And, finally, seek out something really big to change the world…like the people at stage five. Indicators of growth at this stage are that leaders will start using “life is great” language and will live out the values and the noble cause of the tribe—thus act as an exemplar for the tribe.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Tribal Leadership: Stage 3 Tribes

Stage Three Tribes: People at this tribal stage (49% of all groups) use language that’s full of “I’m great” and the corollary, perhaps unspoken, is “I’m great…AND you’re not!” These folks tend to believe that knowledge is power and have a series of strong dyadic relationships that aren’t connected—often to protect that power base. In companies, when these types coexist, they try to outperform each other, as a way of proving their greatness. They are like lone warriors and love to be heroes…riding in on a white horse to save others. Such cultures become like the wild west…competitive and self serving. Leverage these people and tribes to the next level: Encourage them to connect dyads to others…and form triads. Instead of keeping their contacts isolated in silos, introduce them to each other. Encourage these stage-three types to work on projects bigger than they can handle alone, connect them to stage four (“We” not “I”) people, coach them to recognize the power of the network, not their own individual prowess. Success indicators will be more triads forming, less grousing about running out of time (no bandwidth due to no relationships), and networks expanding rapidly.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tribal Leadership: Stage 2 Tribes

Stage Two Tribes: For people in this stage (25% of all groups), their language is typically “my life sucks.” While they may feel poorly about their own lives and surroundings, they see others who are seemingly well off…so there is hope. If you see clusters or tribes of these folks coming together, one of their main themes is that they are victims (of the system, the boss, the economy, etc.). Leverage a person/tribe from this stage to the next level by encouraging them to build out their networks, person by person, in a dyadic (1-1) way. Also, encourage relationships with people who are stage three types. Remember, it’s impossible to go up more than one social rung at a time. Start them working in strengths areas and celebrate early wins. A key indicator of progress with such tribes and members is they will start using I-language and will start separating from their colleagues, who are stuck at stage two.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Tribal Leadership: Stage 1 Tribes

Stage One Tribes: In this stage (fortunately only 2% of all groups), Logan says, people describe their world as “life sucks.” People stuck in this stage are often in a gang culture or even a prison culture. It would be only the most toxic, truly dysfunctional company in which such a culture would exist. At this stage, the language to listen for is one of desperation, retribution, and survival. Truly, for these people, life does suck—for everyone. Therefore, whatever they do is justified, no matter who seems to be affected. Leveraging action to move these people to stage two would be to encourage them to connect one on one and to cut their affiliations with people who use hopeless, negative language. A key indicator of progress moving them is that the person will start referring to his/her own life rather than everyone’s hopelessness. Such a person begins to look at why his/her life is so bad and gets on the path to diagnosing what’s wrong and how to change—thus offering hope to move to the next level.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tribal Leadership: Introduction

Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization by Dave Logan, John King, Halee Fischer-Wright (Collins, 2008). Reviewed by Steve Gladis.

If I could give two books to anyone concerned with organizational development, I’d hand them Tribal Leadership and The Three Laws of Performance—both of which have Dave Logan as a principal author. This article will focus on Tribal Leadership because I’ve reviewed The Three Laws previously on my blog (Survival Leadership).

Overview: In Tribal Leadership Dave Logan et al offer us an organizational development manual for successfully managing tribes. After 10 years studying over 24,000 people, Logan and his team speak with some real authority. The authors first teach us some basics about organizations. Any organization with at least 20 and up to 150 people is a tribe. These tribes are more powerful than leaders, and they decide if the new leader will flourish or get undermined. Ultimately, the tribes even decide on productivity. Indeed, Logan describes 5 levels of tribes that range from dysfunctional (Stage 1: Life Sucks) to world class (Stage 5: Life is great). Tribes move through stages and tend to overrate their levels. But great leaders can 1) listen for which cultures exist in their tribes and 2) move or nudge tribes to the next level in this hierarchy of organization through their actions and language. The key to getting to the highest levels of performance and satisfaction is establishing values and a noble cause. These can’t be perfunctory words, but must be a critical set of living values that shape how companies hire, fire and promote people.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Onboarding: FINAL Post

Final Comments about Onboarding. I highly recommend this book. Let me reiterate the following: So many careers are made, and unfortunately broken, in the very early days, often before the employee even steps into the building because of onboarding oversights. The corporate landscape is FULL of these unfortunate failures. Research out of Harvard shows the cost to be staggering for companies, and the destruction it does to improperly onboarded employees is devastating. Get this book before you hire another employee.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Onboarding: Post #5 (Assimilation)

Helping new employees deliver faster results: We’ve all had first-day-at-the-new-job horror shows. We’ve all arrived at a new job, not knowing where to park, with no one to greet us, no supplies, no desk. The authors caution us to treat the first day for a new employee with the same kind of care we’d give to a great new customer and to prepare the entrance like scripting a play. Make sure that the employee knows the directions and parking instructions, is met by you or someone familiar, and knows the schedule for the first day. In short, be very well prepared for the first day and the first impressions made by both the new employee and by the organization itself. See the downloadable document called “New Employee as Valued Customer” (p. 171). I also like the simple, first-day schedule on p. 171. Be sure to read the final section (IV) on employee assimilation. The research in this area is clear: Assimilation is a key predictor of success. These authors explain an assimilation process that’s simple and replicable by anyone. Pay heed. It can be a make-or-break exercise that saves the new employee a year’s worth of struggling to assimilate. By doing an assimilation exercise you’ll be giving both the new employee and the entire team a huge gift. Be sure to check out the “New Manager Assimilation” downloadable form on pp. 203-4. This is a MUST.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Onboarding: Post#4

Giving new employees a head start: After employee selection and before day one on the job, you can do a lot to ensure successful entry by employees. Careful crafting of a personal onboarding plan and the initial employee announcement is critical. Make sure you see the author’s “Personal Onboarding Plan” (p. 117). The announcement remains as one of the most critical steps to show your recruit that you value her/him and to show the organization that you’ve made the right pick. The authors outline who to talk to before and after the announcement, the wording and timing of the announcement, and the tracking and adjustment of the message. Such emotionally sensitive preparation makes a huge difference in the success of the new employee. See p. 133 for the key points to hit in your announcement. Also, pay very close attention to the “Announcement Cascade” downloadable form on p. 138 and save yourself from making any missteps in this critical stage of the process.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Onboarding: Post#3

Recruit by Reinforcing Your Message: Using the recruiting brief, start to identify a powerful list of candidates. Also, the “Candidate Sourcing” downloadable form is excellent and reminds internal recruiters to focus on key sources of personnel: Recruiters, direct marketing, social networks, advertising, etc. Once you have a slate of candidates, make sure that you evaluate them against the recruiting brief. I like the three basic questions that every interview boils down to: 1) Can you do the job? 2) Will you love the job? 3) Can I stand working with you? The rest of this recruiting section focuses on the interview process and how to make the right offer. Again, scope out the checklists and the downloadable forms.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Onboarding: Post #2

Prepare BEFORE you start Recruiting: Often HR gets the edict: ”Just fill the position!” Jumping on that request or demand with an Aye-Aye-Sir- approach may well begin a cascading failure path for everyone in the process. The authors caution that all the important stakeholders (hiring managers, teammates, etc.) need to be aligned around what they really need…in advance. In particular, the author’s “Recruiting Brief and Total Onboarding Program Timeline” form provides a great framework to ensure that stakeholder misalignment doesn’t derail the search before it begins. Also, note that all of the many forms in the book are downloadable from their site,, AND the forms are reproducible for consulting and training for up to 100 people. This is a very good deal.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Onboarding: Introduction

THIS WEEK: Onboarding: How to Get Your New Employees Up to Speed in Half the Time by George Bradt and Mary Vonnegut (Wiley, 2009). Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D.

“We’ve found that 40% of executives hired at the senior level are pushed out, fail or quit within 18 months….,” says Kevin Kelly CEO of Heidrick and Struggles, an executive search firm. Also, “…as many as 50% of new employees fail to deliver on what their organizations expect (Topgrading by Brad Smart quoted in Onboarding, p. 5). Now, if those aren’t attention getters, I’m not sure what is. Having watched this phenomenon up close from within organizations and from the outside as an executive coach, this cultural phenomenon might be one of the biggest issues facing executive leadership in organizations today, including the federal government. In fact, the authors note that such costly executive exits are caused by four key failures:
--Role failure (people are unclear about their new role);
--Personal failure (lack of ability or fit by the new person);
--Relationship failure (early missteps with critical colleagues);
--Engagement failure (missed opportunities in the early days).

The authors have pulled together a very readable guide for any organization wanting to recruit and retain top talent. Their simple overview instructions:
1. Align (agreement on need for the position);
2. Acquire (recruit the best person for the job);
3. Accommodate (give new recruit the tools for success);
4. Assimilate (help them get to know others quickly);
5. Accelerate (assist them to deliver results quicker).

So many careers are made, and unfortunately broken, in the very early days, often before the employee even steps into the building because of critical onboarding oversights. The corporate landscape is FULL of such unfortunate failures. And the cost is huge. Research out of Harvard shows the cost to be staggering for companies, and the destruction it does to improperly onboarded employees is devastating.

Get this book and use it before you bring another employee on board.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Delivering Happiness: Post #5

Layoffs: In 2008 a lot of rules went out the window along with the economy. Many CEOs used meat cleavers to cut staffs—and in many cases with the same sort of emotional attachment as a butcher. However, Hsieh’s handling of this most difficult decision of his career—to let go of a number of the Zappos family members to survive as a company—was flawless and worth studying. As he does throughout the book, he included his most humane e-mail to explain not only the difficulty in coming up with the decision but also the incredibly generous layoff package that Zappos offered—going above and beyond. In the end, he acted as if the people being laid off really were family. Way to go, Tony.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Delivering Happiness: Post #4

Zappos Core Values: Just as he had with the Zappos Culture Book, Hsieh asked his employees what Zappos was, and while he got back 37 core values over the years he’s boiled it down to the following 10 that I think are worth mentioning. Here are the 10: Deliver WOW through service; Embrace and drive change; Create fun and a little weirdness (my fav); Be adventurous; Pursue growth and learning; Build open and honest relationships with communications; Build a positive team and family spirit; Do more with less; Be passionate and determined; and Be humble!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Delivering Happiness: Post #3

Corporate Culture: Tony has a LOT to say about how to build the kind of corporate culture that makes a real difference. And he did it at Zappos so simply and authentically—he asked people. He sent out an e-mail entitled “Zappos Culture Book” asking anyone who wished to send him 100-500 words about what the Zappos culture meant to them (and what it was like, what they liked about it, and how it was different). He credits the culture building as one of the main reasons they hit their big corporate goals in their early days. He also provides a primer for any company that wants to create its own “Culture Book.” See pp.137-142.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Delivering Happiness: Post #2

Poker and Business: After the sale of his first company, Tony did what most people do—he learned how to play poker! Actually, he studied it with the same intensity he did with business and got good at knowing the odds. I learned that by sticking with a consistent strategy in hold ‘em poker the odds were stacked in a good player’s favor. Forget house games like roulette and blackjack…the house always wins long term. Hsieh deduces a number of poker corollaries that he used in his next company and recommends to all. See pp. 64-66. For example: “Don’t play games you don’t understand, even if you see lots of people making money from them.” There are a lot of ex-dot.comers who would have benefited from this advice. Read the rest of these for some excellent advice.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Delivering Happiness: Introduction

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh (Business Plus, 2010). Reviewed by Steve Gladis, Ph.D.

Tony Hsieh (pronounced Shay) has written both his autobiography and a case study for the new economy: The Internet-based economy. Both are equally interesting and compelling journeys. At the ripe old age of 24 and after learning some tough business lessons, Tony sold LinkExchange for a tidy sum of $265 million, built a tribe of friends who had a great time living and playing together, learned to play poker, and became an venture capitalist (through Venture Frogs) in emerging companies. Eventually, he and Alfred, his life-long business partner, invested in an online shoe company start up,, founded by Nick Swinmurn, who had bet his future on the idea that “…e-commerce will continue to grow. And it is likely that people will continue to wear shoes in the foreseeable future.” Written in a conversational style that’s both authentic and engaging, the book stands as a primer for anyone starting a business from the ground up. His comparing business and poker, developing corporate values and culture, and delivering happiness to your employees and customers are the stuff that should be taught in any MBA program. Kudos, Tony. Nice work all around.

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