Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

A fundamentalist is a person who considers whether a fact is acceptable to his religion before he explores it. As opposed to a curious person who explores first then considers whether or not he wants to accept the ramifications. A curious person embraces the tension between his religion and something new, wrestles with it and through it, and then decides whether to embrace the new idea or reject it.

A fundamentalist is a person who considers whether a fact is acceptable to his religion before he explores it.

As opposed to a curious person who explores first then considers whether or not he wants to accept the ramifications.

Anatomy of a Movement

Senator Bill Bradley defines a movement as having three elements: (1) A narrative that tells a story about who we are and the future we're trying to build. (2) A connection between and among the leader and the tribe. (3) Something to do - the fewer limits the better. Too often organizations fail to do anything but the third.

An individual artist needs only a thousand true fans in her tribe. It's enough.

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.

Change isn't made by asking permission. Change is made by asking forgiveness, later.

Change isn’t made by asking permission. Change is made by asking forgiveness, later.

Everyone will think it's stupid!"
"Everyone says it's impossible."
Guess what? Everyone works in the balloon factory and everyone is wrong.

Heretics must believe. More than anyone else in an organization, it's the person who's challenging the status quo, the one who is daring to be great, who is truly present and not just punching a clock who must have confidence in her beliefs.
Can you imagine Steve Jobs showing up for the paycheck? It's nice to get paid. It's essential to believe.

How was your day? If your answer was "fine," then I don't think you were leading.

If your organization requires success before commitment, it will never have either. Part of leadership (a big part of it, actually) is the ability to stick with the dream for a long time. Long enough that the critics realize that you're going to get there one way or they follow.

In a battle between  two ideas, the best one doesn't necessarily win. No, the idea that wins is the one with the most fearless heretic behind it.

In unstable times, growth comes from leaders who create change and engage their organizations, instead of from managers who push their employees to do more for less.

It’s all a risk. Always. That’s not true, actually. The only exception: it’s a certainty that there’s risk. The safer you play your plans for the future, the riskier it actually is. That’s because the world is certainly, definitely, and more than possibly changing.

It's not time," "Take it easy," "Wait and see," "It's someone else's turn" - none of these stalls are appropriate for a leader in search of change. There's a small price for being too early, but a huge penalty for being too late. The longer you wait to launch an innovation, the less your effort is worth.

Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work.

Leadership, on the other hand, is about creating change you believe in.

Leaders lead when they take positions, when they connect with their tribes, and when they help the tribe connect to itself.

Life's too short" is repeated often enough to be a cliche, but this time it's true. You don't have enough time to be both unhappy and mediocre. It's not just pointless, it's painful. Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you ought to set up a life you don't need to escape from.

Our culture works hard to prevent change.

Perfect is an illusion, one that was created to maintain the status quo. The Six Sigma charade is largely about hiding from change, because change is never perfect. Change means reinvention, and until something is reinvented, we have no idea what the spec is.

Real leaders don't care [about receiving credit]. If it's about your mission, about spreading the faith, about seeing something happen, not only do you not care about credit, you actually want other people to take credit...There's no record of Martin Luther King, Jr. or Gandhi whining about credit. Credit isn't the point. Change is.

Remarkable visions and genuine insights are always met with resistance. And when you start to make progress, your efforts are met with even more resistance. Products, services, career paths - whatever it is, the forces for mediocrity will align to stop you, forgiving no errors and never backing down until it's over. If it were any other way, it would be easy. And if it were any other way, everyone would do it and your work would ultimately be devalued. The yin and yang are clear: without people pushing against your quest to do something worth talking about, it's unlikely to be worth the journey. Persist.

Skill and attitude are essential. Authority is not. In fact, authority can get in the way.

So great leaders don't try to please everyone. Great leaders don't water down their message in order to make the tribe a bit bigger. Instead, they realize that a motivated, connected tribe in the midst of a movement is far more powerful than a larger group could ever be.

Successful heretics create their own religions....You can recognize the need for faith in your idea, you can find the tribe you need to support you, and yes, you can create a new religion around your faith. Steve Jobs did it on purpose at Apple and Phil Knight is famous for doing it at Nike.

The secret of being wrong isn't to avoid being wrong! The secret is being willing to be wrong. The secret is realizing that wrong isn't fatal. The only thing that makes people and organizations great is their willingness to be not great along the way. The desire to fail on the way to reaching a bigger goal is the untold secret of success.

The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there.
People will follow.

What most people want in a leader is something that's very difficult to find: we want someone who listens...The secret, Reagan's secret, is to listen, to value what you hear, and then to make a decision even if it contradicts the very people you are listening to. Reagan impressed his advisers, his adversaries, and his voters by actively listening. People want to be sure you hear what they said - they're less focused on whether or not you do what they said.

Yes, I think it's okay to abandon the big, established, stuck tribe. It's okay to say to them, "You're not going where I need to go, and there's no way I'm going to persuade all of you to follow me. So rather than standing here watching the opportunities fade away, I'm heading off. I'm betting some of you, the best of you, will follow me.