Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Are You Part Of The Tribe?

I had the pleasure of reading Seth Godin’s Tribes recently. I’ve been on a book kick lately and Tribes made a recent flight back to Minneapolis pass quickly. In Tribes, Seth makes the case that “…any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea.” This is a really powerful concept. It’s one that I’ve seen up close and powerful. One of the most important things to keep in mind in mind is that leaders aren’t necessarily the people at the top of an organization. In fact, often you’ll find that they are several layers down.

Some of the key takeaways for me, without giving away all the goods, were:

  • A tribe needs a leader, shared interest, followers, and a way to communicate
  • “No one gives you permission or approval or a permit to lead. You can just do it. The only one who can say no is you.”
  • Companies need people to drive change; change is what drives growth
  • Change is inevitable, life is too short to fight the change, so hop on the change bus
  • Systems, processes, and the like while once successful can become dangerous when “you fall in love with the system”

Perhaps my favorite quote and the thing that stuck with me was this passage, “being charismatic doesn’t make you a leader. Being a leader makes you charismatic.”

Shortly after reading Tribes I came across this article from Strategy+Business.  It’s an awesome article, that takes a somewhat counter standpoint. Specifically, they argue, “research shows that most transformation leaders go unpromoted, unrecognized, and unrewarded. And their companies suffer in the long run.”  If you will, “change agents” are casualties of war and often cast aside as heretics.

I sent this article on to Seth and asked him specifically:


Just finished Tribes. Thoroughly enjoyed it. On the same lengthy business trip I also read The Three Signs of a Miserable Job. I saw a lot of similarity between the two. Recently, I also read this article titled “Stand by Your Change Agent” which outlines that, “Research shows that most transformation leaders go unpromoted, unrecognized, and unrewarded. And their companies suffer in the long run.”

Article Link: http://bit.ly/16f9H

I found myself relating tremendously to the article. I’ve watched, quite often, transformational leaders leave organizations…myself included.

The research seems to be at odds with many of the concepts presented in Tribes. I’d love your point of view the article.



I was surprised and impressed when Seth sent me the following response:

often, tribe leaders leave because they won’t sacrifice the tribe to please management

cost of changing the world…

There’s a lot of truth to what Seth says.  As I look back on my own career, I can point to several instances where I elected to leave rather than sacrifice the tribe.  In some situations, people in the tribe even elected to follow me.

The world needs more leaders and companies need to embrace them.