Ever wanted to enhance your leadership skills? Decided 2015 is the year to do it? If so, Seth Godin’s Tribes should be top of your reading list. If you've read Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers and found that of use, think of this as a turbo-charged business version.
The thrust of Godin’s book is that it only takes a shared interest and a way to communicate to turn a group of people into a tribe. Provide a purpose and the tools to achieve the group’s (highly defined) goals and you’re on your way to being a successful leader.
According to Godin, all that’s needed to lead is the desire to make something happen.
Here are my top ten quotes from the book to whet your appetite and get you started:
1) Technology is just an enabler, it’s all about people
Before the Internet, coordinating and leading a tribe was difficult. Twitter and blogs and online videos and countless other techniques contribute to an entirely new dimension of what it means to be part of a tribe. New technologies are all designed to connect tribes and to amplify their work. But the Internet is just a tool, an easy way to enable some tactics. The real power of tribes has nothing to do with the Internet and everything to do with people.
2) A changing status quo brings opportunity to marketers
Marketing used to be about advertising, and advertising is expensive. Today, marketing is about engaging with the tribe and delivering products and services with stories that spread.
3) Anyone and everyone can lead
Tribes give each of us the very same opportunity. Skill and attitude are essential. Authority is not. In fact, authority can get in the way. Leaders don’t care very much for organisational structure or the official blessing of [wherever] they work. They use passion and ideas to lead people, as opposed to using threats and bureaucracy to manage them. Leaders must become aware of how the organisation works, because this awareness allows them to change it.
4) It’s about quality of fans, not quantity
Too many organisations care about numbers, not fans. They care about hits or turnstile clicks or media mentions. What they’re missing is the depth of commitment and inter-connection that true fans deliver. Fans, true fans, are hard to find and precious. Just a few can change everything. What they demand, though, is generosity and bravery.
5) Don’t let fear of failure stop you leading and innovating
Fear is hardwired. It needs to be drowned out by a different story…the story of success, of drive, of doing something that matters. It’s an intellectual story about what the world (or your industry or your project) needs and how your insight can help make a difference. The essence of leadership is being aware of your fear (and seeing it in the people you wish to lead).
6) Embrace discomfort (the best quote in the book in my opinion)
Leadership is scarce because few people are willing to go through the discomfort required to lead. This scarcity makes leadership valuable.
- It’s uncomfortable to stand up in front of strangers.
- It’s uncomfortable to propose an idea that might fail.
- It’s uncomfortable to challenge the status quo.
- It’s uncomfortable to resist the urge to settle.
When you identify the discomfort, you’ve found the place where a leader is needed. If you’re not uncomfortable in your work as a leader, it’s almost certain you’re not reaching your potential as a leader.
7) You can’t please all the people all of the time
Great leaders don’t try to please everyone. Great leaders don’t water down their message to make the tribe a bit bigger. Instead, they realise that a motivated, connected tribe in the midst of a movement is far more powerful than a larger group could ever be.
8) Don’t lead when it’s not from the heart
Sometimes it may make more sense to follow. Leading when you don’t know where to go, when you don’t have the commitment or the passion, or worst of all, when you can’t overcome your fear – that sort of leading is worse than none at all.
9) Leadership is actually simple
The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow.
10) Good communication is key
What’s helpful is to realise that you have a choice when you communicate. You can design your products to be easy to use. You can write so your audience hears you. You can present in a place and in a way that guarantees that the people you want to listen will hear you. Most of all, you get to choose who will understand (and who won’t).
Hopefully you’ve found this useful and if you do find yourself ready to lead a tribe, grab the book and look up Godin’s five things to do and six principles for creating a micromovement. I won’t share them here but I’ve seen them put into practice and they really work.