People everywhere are struggling with the extended shutdowns from COVID-19. All the Type-A personalities are going absolutely crazy not being able to interact face to face or in small groups.
If you rated ‘extrovert’ on your personality assessment, you are hurting right about now. The introverts are enjoying the calm. However, none of us can stay separated for long.
This is why virtual meeting tools like Zoom have skyrocketed. ‘Zoom’ is now a noun, verb and adjective all in one.
Aren’t you missing that 90-minute weekly staff meeting with your boss? OK, maybe I’m kidding on that one. What about the water cooler chat with colleagues?
There is just something special about that sense of belonging when we can stand or sit together and talk.
Why is that?
Seth Goden spoke about it in his seminal book “Tribes”. Since the dawning of mankind, we have been tribal in nature. We naturally gravitate together.
The caveman did it for survival. There was survival in numbers. Yet I see that same tribal mindset today.
Let’s face it, we all live in or belong to some kind of tribe today. Perhaps it’s your neighborhood. You want the kids going to a certain school. How tribal is that?
You pick your friends based on common interests and values.
Or maybe you attend a certain church, mosque or synagogue based of course on your religious preferences. Maybe you don’t go to church at all because you belong to a golf group or a fishing/boating club.
Tribes get formed by many different standards. I’m certainly not judging any of them, I’m just making the point that tribal desire exists.
The tribal mindset can go wrong of course. Think of the real Nazis in Germany in the 1930s. Ideaology is fine if it serves a common good, but taken to extremes, whole populations can be impacted, as we clearly saw then.
As soon as tribal thinking begins to not only exclude others, but demean, oppress and hurt others, it’s gone too far.
You may argue you’ve never been part of a ‘tribe’. Maybe that word alone is offensive to you. It’s not meant to be.
Do you own a iPhone or Mac? You’re in a tribe.
Do you only buy certain clothes? Tribe.
Do you only support one school? Tribe.
Do you only drive certain cars? Tribe.
Do you work for a certain company and never think of others in your industry? Tribe.
Do you only wear certain watches? Tribe.
Do you only follow certain public figures? Tribe.
Do you vote by single lever pull? Tribe.
Do you think contrary of others because they don’t look/act like you? Tribe.
The days of needing a tribe for survival should be gone, but they’re not. People begin to assemble a tribe when they feel ‘less than’ others. They seek strength in numbers when systems and policies leave them out.
Those motivated to band together in this way hope that the combined voice will be louder than what they alone can shout.
It happens in business. It is happening on our streets.
What Can We Do? What Can I Do?
First, look around at the tribes to which you already belong. Are they really OK? When others know about your tribe, can they accept what it stands for? They don’t have to agree with or support the specific values, but can they accept there are reasonable differences and good reasons that you joined?
Many will say it’s nobody’s business what I do. On many levels that’s true. Yet when it comes to expressing or demonstrably exercising action that offend others, your tribe needs adjustment.
‘Communication’ is a word I’ve heard much about lately. Sure we need to talk about our differences. But that is a slippery slope. When does a conversation turn into an argument?
The popular thinking these days is to try to convince the other person that the values you believe in or represent are the only right ones. NO they’re not. Stop doing that.
As business leaders we must create an environment that can allow open exchange. If it is discovered that a person, policy or practice somehow makes others feel ‘less than’, then it needs to get fixed.
What employees and any member of any tribe must understand is that the gathering happened for a reason. If you joined, but later discover there is something you don’t like, YOU made a bad choice. Find another tribe. Change jobs.
If enough businesses lose good talent over bad practices, they will change.
I help business owners and executives make change happen all the time. Good leaders are open for change. They genuinely want to listen better and make adjustments to the tribe they manage. Sometimes the system and the legacy is too big to change quickly, but it can change.
If you want to talk about ways to make the change you need in your tribe, I am here.