Hello, I’m Michael Sliwinski, founder of Nozbe - to-do app for business owners and their teams. I write essays, books, work on projects and I podcast for you using #iPadOnly in #NoOffice as I believe that work is not a place you go to, it’s a thing you do. More…

Tribal Leadership - how to convert organizations into tribes that change the world


I really like the event created by Y-combinator called “Startup School” as they invite really cool speakers who every year deliver incredible speeches. Last year the best one was by David Heinemeier Hansson “The secret to making money online” and this year I really enjoyed the talk by Tony Hsieh of Zappos about “Delivering Happiness” and he pointed me to a free audiobook they are offering - Tribal Leadership by Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright

Tribal Leadership - how to convert organizations into tribes that change the world

I encourage you to get the book and listen to it.

It basically says that there are 5 stages of thinking in corporate environment:

Stage 1 - Life as we know it sucks

Stage 2 - Only my life sucks

Stage 3 - I’m great, and you’re not

Stage 4 - We’re great, and you’re not

Stage 5 - Life’s great

I just finished today standing in a traffic jam and in the meantime as I was stuck there I started analyzing how I behave as a manager and leader, if I’m cultivating Stage 3, 4 or 5 mentality…

Anyway, I don’t want to spoil you the guts of the book so make sure to grab it and listen to it, it’s an eye opener.

What particularly stood out for me as en entrepreneur is the concept of “triads” as opposed to “diads”.

Leaders foster TRIADS to empower their co-workers.

What is a triad? Here’s an example: If two co-workers come to you with a problem that they are having you can act in two different ways:

  1. You talk to each one of them, forming a diad, a single relationship with each of them. You listen to one side of the story, listen to the other side and then you make a decision.

This is what typical managers do, as they want to feel in control, be decisive. Instead of creating a relationship between these two co-workers you make sure you have two relationships with each of them…

  1. You tell them: “Guys, you’re supposed to work together, remember? You’re both experts in your fields and you know this problem can be solved - work together with the aim of solving this problem and later let me know how it went, I’m sure you’ll do just fine.”

This is what tribal leaders do - they empower their employees and make sure they work together and feel important, feel like it’s them who have to decide and later they will not come to you with problems, they’ll come to you with solutions. You’ve just formed a triad - a three-person relationship.

After reading this, I started examining my life as manager and my relationship with my co-workers and already thought of the ways I can improve my management and empower my co-workers even more.

Question: Are you empowered enough in your work? Do you feel like you belong to a tribe? Is your boss a triad-kinda-guy or a diad-kinda-sage-on-the-stage?