Sorry for the delay in posts, but had a small project that took a lot of time.
The first session of the day for me at TribeCamp was “Techniques That Toughen the Tribe”, led by Michael Synk (@insynk on Twitter, also you can find him here and here) Michael is a business coach and skilled communicator who, after talking with him in this session, I feel really understands the ideals of leadership.
One of the first topics we discussed was on being a member of a tribe and how Leadership in general and Leading a Tribe are similar and how they differ. The most interesting point for me during this first discussion was trying to identify what my tribe was called and if I even led a tribe at all. It struck me at this point that tribes are everywhere. We each belong to a group, whether that group is in the physical world and the virtual world, and each of these groups have de facto leaders. The real question is not “Are you in a tribe?” but “Are you a Leader?” Then we branched from that to what makes a good leader. Michael brought out that many people confuse being the “best” at something to being a leader. Being the best at anything does not necessarily make you a leader. Leadership is more about getting others to do what needs to be done. Michael used this quote, “Leading is getting ordinary people to do extraordinary things.”
We then discussed the challenges of Leadership and Michael recommended the book The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. In this book the authors lay out the five primary challenges leaders face. Roughly, they are:
- Good Leaders challenge the status quo. They are never satisfied with the way things are, but will never change for “change’s sake.” They are consistently on the watch for potential improvements to processes and people.
- Good Leaders inspire a shared vision. They get others to see what they see and get excited about the possibilities.
- Good Leaders empower OTHERS to DO. Leaders do not keep all of the power, but give that power to others so they can “do” and then they GET OUT OF THE WAY.
- Good Leaders are Authentic. They are real people with real thoughts and even failings at times. Leaders don’t talk then walk, they walk then talk.
- Good Leaders Celebrate at every opportunity. They value others successes and are not afraid to geive others the spotlight for a job well done.
Of all of these, a couple really resonated with me. First, the idea that a good leader empowers others and then gets out of their way. I know that I, personally, tend toward a controlling management style. I cringe when I assign a task and then see it carried out in a manner that would not be my first, or second, choice. I have to learn as a leader that my way is not the only way, or even the right way. I need to empower my staff to make the right decisions and not be afraid if they fail or have to start over. I also need to remind MYSELF that it is OK if they do things a different way that I would do them. They may have discovered a faster process or, in the worst case, they learn how not to do something the next time.
The second point is good leaders are authentic. Authenticity would be a topic that was revisited over and over throughout the day’s sessions. We all have to learn to be authentic, not only in the real world, but in the virtual world as well. A lack of authenticity will kill an online community and the only way to keep that from happening is to be “real.” This sometimes means you have to expose a weakness or admit a mistake, but that admission and that vulnerability will make you a stronger leader, both online and off. We need to also be careful to not fall in the charisma trap. Charisma does not equal authenticity and, believe it or not, people eventually see through the charisma if it is not backed by real authenticity. This topic of authenticity resonated so strongly throughout the day, I decided to devote a whole post to it on a later date. Be watching this space.
We finished the discussion by discussing the topics in the book by Patrick Lencioni – The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. While we looked at several of the dysfunctions, one that jumped out again dealt with a partner of authenticity – trust. If members of a team do not trust one another the team will never be successful at the end of the day. And what is needed to build trust? Authenticity and a willingness to share vulnerability. Lack of trust leads a team, or a tribe, down the road of ultimate failure.
Unfortunately the session had to end, but the ideas in that room stuck with me, which, in a way, is what Tribe Camp is all about.
What is your tribe, or tribes? And how do you think authenticity REALLY fits in to today’s online world where it’s easy to lie about everything you are, or aren’t? Have we reached a place where authenticity is a rare commodity? I welcome your thoughts in the comments.