By Sepeedeh Hashemian
My leadership book was Tribes: We Need you to Lead Us by Seth Godin,where Godin discusses leadership in terms of tribes. According to him “a tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.” His book is written in a conversational tone and is anecdotal rather than a linear story. His examples range from the chocolate factory episode of I Love Lucy to Steve Jobs of Apple and Mich Mathews of Microsoft.
The book aims to inspire and serve as a call to action for readers to find a tribe and lead. A theme that appears throughout the book is that while tribes are usually localized, things have changed dramatically with the advent of the web. These digital platforms such as blogs, YouTube and social media make it easier to find and nurture a tribe even if the group is not geographically in the same place. Godin does not present his book as a how to manual in becoming a leader but rather as a means to highlight instances of successful tribes and how that was done. The book paints leadership as something that is within anyone’s reach. The key to being a leader according to Godin is a matter being proactive.
Godin outlines the following as characteristics of a leader: have an enticing call-to-action; have a cause worth fighting for; are passionate; motivate and inspire; connect followers; knows it’s not about tactics, tools or technology; persistent against resistance; brave and challenges the status quo; works hard and is generous; and finds other leaders, amplifying their work and helps them find followers. He also enumerated the characteristics of a tribe as: a group of like-minded individuals; need to be active members; membership is voluntary; are not closed off or isolated; are not blind sheep; people belong to more than one tribe; every tribe and leader are different. According to Godin, tribes are important as a means to inspire individuals to be happier and more productive as well as change the status quo.
“Part of leadership…is the ability to stick with the dream for a long time. Long enough that the critics realize that you’re going to get there one way or another…so they follow.” (p. 132)
He touches on the themes of sheepwalking and fear. Sheepwalking is when people are obedient and fearful, they can be well-educated but very compliant. Godin emphasizes that it is important to break away from that mentality and make a difference. There is no right time to lead, you just do it without waiting for the alternative to be better than the status quo. Fear most of the time is what prevents individuals from being leaders, but Godin says that being wrong isn’t fatal. Meaning that fear shouldn’t be what prevents someone from leading a tribe.
I personally liked this book because it was a light read and I liked the conversational tone it was written in. Some of the information in the book is a little cliché but I think the book overall is enlightening. I would recommend it to friends because I think it makes the idea of leadership not seem as daunting as it sometimes can be. Godin asks readers to have a vision they are passionate about and fight to make it happen, most of us have something that we believe in it’s just a matter of making it happen.
Reviewed by Lila Devi Ojha