• Scott McInnes

#10 | Grass skirts not compulsory!


We were on holidays this summer with friends of ours. One evening, over a beer, conversation turned to their son who, a few years ago, was diagnosed with Aspergers. We talked about his future (as we did about all our kids) and, as you might expect, they had their worries.

But one thing they said really struck me "He'll be OK once he finds his tribe".

What they meant, I think, was that he'll be fine when he finds a group of likeminded people who understood him, who knew how to get the best from him, and how to read him and understand him.

And that got me thinking about tribes in the context of work.

We talk a lot about our teams - 'a group of people with a set of complementary skills required to complete a task, job or project' (busiessdictionary.com) or 'a number of persons associated in some joint form (dictionary.com).

But, for me the idea of a 'tribe' brings so much more. In times past it meant defending territory, sharing food, sharing ideas, defending each other, shooting for the same goal (because often, their life depended on it), pride.

It feels more emotional, more caring, more ‘I’ve got your back and you’ve got mine’ - a sense that we’re in this together.

In a work context we can be quick to discount emotions, to go for the left brain, logical approach - because it’s ‘work’ and avoiding emotions is easier. Asking someone ‘how did you feel about.....’? opens a whole can of worms that I’m not sure the majority of leaders would know what to do with.

But as leaders we know in our heart of hearts that we need to bring emotions to work, because logic is only half the battle. If we only talk to our people’s left brain, we’re missing out on the opportunity of them bringing their whole selves to work - their creativity, skills, experience and stories

As a leader could you say that you understood your people? Know how to get the best from them, to read their moods and understand them?

In a work context we talk about ‘team spirit’ a lot, but for me it’s a bit done. So what can you start doing to engender a tribal spirit in your people, to drive a closer, more emotional approach to work?


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