Tribes: We Need Your To Lead Us

Posted January 1, 2009 in Leadership, Networking, What We're Reading

By: Seth Godin

Reviewed By: Glain Roberts-McCabe

The Premise: By Godin’s definition, a tribe is a collection of people who are connected to one another, a leader and an idea. For thousands of years, humans have joined tribes… we like belonging. In the age of the internet, it’s become easier and easier to create and grow new tribes.

And, these tribes need leaders. Godin’s book creates a provocative challenge to existing thoughts about what is leadership. Forget about hierarchy and old notions about “management”. To be a “leader” today, title becomes irrelevant and passion rules. Leadership is about spotting the trends and initiating change (not responding or reacting to it). Godin calls for more leadership “heretics”… people who are willing to step up and take a stand. The flip side is to take the safe route and become a “sheepwalker”… someone who fights to protect the status quo at all costs, never asking if this obedience doing you (or your organization) any good. Industries can be “sheepwalkers” (think about the music industry) and individuals can be “sheepwalkers” too. And, neither have a strong prognosis for survival in the new world.

The Bottom-line: This is a book that you’re either going to “get” or not. Seth Godin is a marketing guru who’s vision is so out there, it’s sometimes hard to catch up. The ideas laid out in Tribes are both provocative and thought provoking. This is the kind of read that “bends your brain” on what the implications are for organizations that are mired in “old” hierarchical structures. What I loved about this book is the challenge made to our traditional views on what it takes to “lead”.

Thanks to the internet, the common barriers of creating a “tribe” – cost, geography, time – are being eliminated. There are some fantastic lessons in there for anyone in sales and marketing who’s looking to build a tribe of clients and some interesting ideas on how team leaders can create a “tribe” within their organizations. Also, Godin’s definition of “sheepwalking” is bang on and is something everyone should read to make sure they’re not doing it. Watch our blog for an upcoming post on this topic. Like many of Godin’s books, Tribes is written in almost a stream of ideas vs. a structured flow. It’s a small book with some big ideas and, for those who “get it”, it’s guaranteed to make you really think about the opportunities you have as a leader. Powerful.


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