A few months ago I was in a little bit of a funk. I was bored at work and was not really sure what my next move was going to be. My co-worker, Dan recommended the book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us , by Seth Godin. It had been a while since I read a book, so I thought I would give it a whirl. It turned out that this book gave me a huge boost in confidence and creativity. It actually spurred me to start this blog.
The basis for the book is that our world is built around tribes. Tribes are a group of people linked by a common interest. This could come in the form of a country club, a large corporation, a blogging community, or a political party. A core part of a tribe is communication. Tribes talks about how technology has lowered the cost of communication and provided unprecedented power to tribes of all forms. Who knew 5,000 knitting-loving people could unite themselves online and trade ideas?
Tribes is not your typical book on management or leadership. It’s really a call to action. It provides no step-by-step tutorials and does not even have chapters. Godin does not build up a framework, nor does he try to explain anything in detail. It is full of small sections of anecdotes on how to utilize tribes to do great things.
Godin explains that the world is in need of leaders and that you can be one of them. People often associate leadership with a title or an elevated status, but technology and changing cultural norms have made it possible for anyone to lead. The author also notes that people in elevated roles want to keep things the same, sponsor the status quo, because that serves them the best. The only problem is that the status quo is not enough to win these days. People want new and they want it now. If you want to win you must be part of the tribes that are bringing forth new ideas. Some of these tribes you will follow and some you will lead.
The one thing that stuck with me from the book is the notion that most people with good ideas are paralysed by fear- fear of failure, rejection and the unknown. Godin succinctly explains that fear is usually not based in reality. The worst case scenario is you find out that there is not a tribe willing to follow your cause. I overcame my fear and started a group to promote innovation at work. The group is growing and has started to create some buzz among managers and executives. It took surprisingly little work, just a little initiative and the willpower to overcome my fear.
I found this book to be highly motivating and worth the read. It is short, however, I believe it contains many little nuggets about leading a tribe that I will carry forward.