Although “Tribes” may not offer any huge revelations, I did like the overall theme: people should lead rather than manage.
Peppered with real-life examples of true leaders, from Steve Jobs to a librarian in Seattle, Godin’s book explains that tribes are everywhere. And true leaders have to learn how to help their tribes’ members communicate more effectively.
Godin’s parameters for a tribe, a shared interest and a way to communicate, pretty much fit associations to a tee. The book is intended for anyone, whether you’re already a leader in your organization or not, and I think association execs and staffers would find the book extremely beneficial.
Godin writes that, The people who like their jobs the most are the ones who are doing the best work, making the greatest impact, and changing the most. As an association exec or staffer, are you doing all you can to inspire your employees and members, allowing them to grow and evolve?
Godin says he’s not interested in tribes that are stuck. He says they’re boring and that by embracing the status quo, they don’t create anything valuable.
I disagree with Godin — I’m interested in tribes that are slower to change. These are going to be the interesting ones down the road. Just because they’re slower to alter the status quo doesn’t mean they won’t. It’s true that many associations are stuck in the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” mindset, but I think that attitude is slowly changing.
All tribes (including associations) have different motivations and leaders and rates of change. There’s no need to change quickly to keep up with others if your members aren’t ready yet.
Conversely, it’s up to leaders to realize when change is necessary — even if members resist at first.
Inspiring your members to become excited about new things can be difficult. Changing things — pushing the envelope and creating a future that doesn’t exist yet (at the same time you’re criticized by everyone else) — requires bravery, Godin writes.
One phrase really struck me during my reading:
Tribes are increasingly voluntary. No one is forced to work for your firm or attend your services. … So great leaders don’t try to please everybody. … Instead, they realize that a motivated, connected tribe in the midst of a movement is far more powerful than a larger group could ever be.
There’s been a bit of concern lately about how to keep members and what to provide for them in order to keep them renewing. However, I think we sometimes forget that all membership is voluntary. Would you rather have 10,000 apathetic members or 500 excited, motivated and connected members?
Godin’s writing style might have bothered me during my reading, but the message was a winner: If you, as a leader, do what you believe in and continue to inspire, people will follow. Leadership is a choice, and the choice to contribute is yours.