The Value of a Tribe

The power of close-knit community is a game-changer. In the past year, I’ve experienced the strength of being surrounded by people who have pulled together in remarkable ways as our city recovers from the devastation of a Category 5 hurricane. We are called #850strong – a tribe brought together through adversity. (850 is the area code of those most affected by the destruction of the storm.)


Some might think Seth Godin coined the term because of his 2008 Bestseller of that name. But people have been forming tribes since the dawn of time. In days of old, your very survival might depend on staying connected with your tribe.

We are created for connection. A tribe is defined as group of people connected around an idea. And a tribe has a leader. A tribe is a community where people can be seen and accepted. It’s somewhat of a greenhouse for humans. If people don’t have a healthy tribe or family, they’ll gravitate to one that attracts people with similar stories. That’s how gangs and anti-social groups are formed. Even people who are anti-social – those whose behaviors bring harm and show a lack of consideration for the well-being of others – form tribes.

Thankfully, my readers are among those committed to forming healthy tribes. Leaders realize that strength doesn’t come from what you can do. Strength comes from overcoming the things you thought you couldn’t. It’s sad that communities often wait until tragedy strikes to find common bonds. What a different world it would be if we could lay aside our differences and focus on what we have in common instead of constantly pitting ourselves in opposition with those who don’t agree with us.

The Importance of Your Story

We find community in our stories. Mary Demuth, author of We Too says, “Change doesn’t happen after facts are put forward; it happens in the warm context of community.” There’s nothing random about acts of kindness. And there’s nothing random about living with an open heart and a willing hand to help. Everyone you meet is going through something. When we see one another, value each other, and band together, we will find strength we never knew we had.

Do you remember playing Red Rover when you were a kid? Two teams would face each other in opposing lines arms linked tight. One team would call for an individual to try to break through the line by running full speed into the barrier of linked arms. I was never the strongest player. But I learned quickly that was not the most important thing. The way to win was to be on the strongest team. I still believe that is true and it might explain why I am collaborative by nature.

Common Unity

The word community blends the words common and unity. On the other hand, the word division implies two visions. We can get things done when we join with people with a common vision. We have to be motivated by something that’s bigger than us. And a leader needs to be able to cast a vision that pulls people together.

Mentoring is a part of tribes. Imparting vision, communicating acceptance, and encouraging growth are key to the continuity of a healthy tribe. Having someone speaking into your life in a spirit of love is life-changing. The element of accountability is another significant aspect of tribe. Character flaws are the biggest cause of leadership crises.

The supreme quality for leadership is integrity.

President Dwight Eisenhower

Some tribes call themselves Mastermind groups because of the synergy of creative minds working on solutions together. Woodrow Wilson referred to this when he said, “I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow”.

Who are your people?

What tribe(s) do you belong to? As a teenager, my mother always advised me, “You’re known by the company you keep.” Her concern was that we are heavily influenced by those we spend the most time with. We tend to pick up habits and behaviors ranging from mannerisms to values.

I have a tribe of business people I hang out with who gathered around the Online Heart Plan Course. It’s a community where everyone helps one another achieve their dreams in practical and tangible ways. There are networking opportunities, contacts, better ideas, investors, networks, resources, and mentors. That becomes an environment where anything is possible.

Seth Godin threw down the gauntlet to rising leaders by defining three steps to building a tribe: the desire to change things, the ability to connect a tribe, and the willingness to lead.

Consider these statistics regarding leadership development:

  • 89% of executives surveyed believe strengthening organizational leadership is a top priority.
  • Yet 77% of organizations report they’re currently experiencing a leadership gap. They are struggling to find people to lead well.
  • Only 10% of CEOs believe their company’s leadership development initiatives have a clear business impact, even though U.S. companies spent $160 billion in 2015 and close to $356 billion was spent globally.

I hear the clarion call for leaders to arise who serve, love, and care deeply about the people in their tribe. Tribe is the picture of community. We are meant to be better together. It can begin here.

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