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How do leaders produce results?

May 21, 2013

How do leaders produce results? The obvious way is to set a goal and then beat people with sticks until they get there. That doesn’t work. Dave Logan knows because he used to do that. In order to elevate performance, we need to look elsewhere. In his session on “Producing Results,” Dave tells us that the key to changing organizations is to identify what type of organization you have.

Find Your Tribe

The first thing you need to do is to identify your current tribes. A tribe consists of more than 20 people. This is important because in a smaller group (fewer than 12, for example) when you add one more person to the mix, that addition has a big effect. When you have a tribe (more than 20 but less than around 150), the addition of one more has a smaller effect.

Assess Your Tribe

There are five kinds of tribes:

  • Stage 1 – “Life sucks.” These people describe life as broken. This is rare in employee situations–about 2%.
  • Stage 2 – “My life sucks.” These people talk about why they can’t deliver what the leader wants. Sarcasm is a common component. There’s nothing wrong with sarcasm, unless it’s used as a way to avoid accountability. This is 25% of the population.
  • Stage 3 – “I’m great.” These people are individually competitive and the three most important words in this stage are: I, me, my. This accounts for 49%.
  • Stage 4 – “We’re great.” Here, we talk about shared commitments; drama goes down, and the ability to handle change goes up. This is 22% of the population.
  • Stage 5 – “Life is great.” This 2% is the top of the mountain.

Upgrade Your Tribes

A big mistake is to walk into a tribe talking Stage 5 language. Don’t do it, it usually doesn’t work. You can only upgrade one level and the way to do that depends on which stage it is.

  • Upgrade Stage 2 to Stage 3: Find a person who “sucks less” and mentor them offline, where the rest of the tribe can’t hear. Use Stage 3 language, such as “I think you have real potential.” Keep it up until the person starts using Stage 3 language him- or herself. And then make his or her mentor someone else in Stage 2.
  • Upgrade Stage 3 to Stage 4: Find every person’s values using open-ended questions. Speak in terms of shared values. Build triads, which are three-person relationships where each person is responsible for the quality of the relationship between the other two. Ask, “What do your values say we should do about __________?”
  • Upgrade Stage 4 to Stage 5: First, make sure that the tribe is stable at Stage 4. Then ask, “How can we make history?” Focus on a short-term plan that will produce industry-shaking innovation. Use sparingly.

What tribe are you in? Have you used this approach to produce results? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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Women in Leadership Institute

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A 4-day immersive learning experience designed to equip women leaders with actionable strategies to overcome the hurdles women often face in the workplace.

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