Discovering Stage 4: We're Great (and They're Not) Tribe

Casey Fenton

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September 21, 2023

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When you think about your work tribe, what images spring to mind? Is it a tightly-knit group that believes in collective success, or a fragmented, disjointed cluster where each individual is out for their own gains? Well, if you resonate more with the former, you’re probably in a Stage 4 tribe. And that's great! But it’s not always peaches and cream.

The Stage 4 Tribe Characteristics and Mindset: A Comparative Look

Understanding the Stage 4 tribe involves not only examining its distinctive qualities but also seeing how it compares to other stages in tribal leadership.

In Stage 1 tribes, which can be termed as "Life Sucks," individuals are disengaged and express their discontent towards life and work. Stage 2, or the "My Life Sucks" tribe, shows a slight improvement with individuals acknowledging that not all is lost, but they're still stuck in a rut while others seem to be progressing.

Then comes Stage 3 or the "I'm Great (and You're Not)" tribe, where individuals recognize their own potential and success but often at the expense of others. They work well on their own but struggle to cooperate, foster a competitive rather than collaborative environment, and this often leads to silos within the organization.

On the other hand, Stage 4 tribes shift from "I'm Great" to "We're Great." The self-focus transforms into a collective focus. Team members rally around a shared purpose, striving towards common goals, fostering an environment that values synergy, collaboration, and shared achievements. The sense of togetherness is strong and there's an empowering belief in the group's capabilities, hence the "We're Great" mantra. However, this mentality often comes with an added, "and they're not," which fosters a divide between 'us' and 'them.'

It's worth noting that this progression is not about a hierarchy of good and bad, but rather about the evolution of mindset, from disengaged to ego-centric, and from self-focused to team-focused.

The key distinction of Stage 4 tribes, as compared to the previous stages, is their collective orientation. While Stage 3 tribes have people who excel individually, in Stage 4, success is a collective endeavor. The tribe works together, thinks together, and achieves together. However, the downside of this communal mentality is an inadvertent distancing from other tribes, often viewing them as competition or threat.

The journey doesn't end here though. The ultimate goal is to evolve to Stage 5, where the belief extends to "Life is Great." Stage 5 tribes do not focus on outdoing other tribes but aim for collective success that transcends the boundaries of 'us' and 'them.' They believe that with collaboration and shared purpose, everyone can excel. Stage 4 is a step in the right direction, but there's still a road to travel to reach the pinnacle of tribal leadership.

The Double-Edged Sword of Stage 4 Thinking

The benefits of Stage 4 thinking are quite clear: the shared ambition drives progress, the unity fosters a supportive work environment, and the 'we mentality' encourages collective problem-solving. But just like any coin, this too has a flip side.

The “and they're not” part of the mindset can lead to an unhealthy rivalry with other tribes or teams within the organization. This may result in unnecessary competition, miscommunication, and a decreased willingness to cooperate beyond the tribe. This us-versus-them mentality can hamper overall organizational harmony.

A Glimpse Into Stage 4 Workplace Scenarios

As you navigate your journey in a Stage 4 tribe, you'll find its unique characteristics surfacing in various workplace scenarios. Whether you're part of team meetings, project collaborations, company-wide events, conflict resolutions, or celebrating promotions and rewards, the 'We're Great (and They're Not)' mentality may shape your experiences. Let's dive into how this mindset impacts typical workplace situations:

Team Meetings: When you're in a Stage 4 tribe meeting, you'll notice the high degree of synergy and collective participation. Ideas are freely shared, sparking dynamic discussions and cooperative decision-making. However, you might also find resistance to suggestions or inputs coming from outside the tribe, which could limit the scope for new ideas.

Project Collaboration: Working on projects within your tribe might feel like a seamless process due to the shared vision and sense of purpose. But when it comes to cross-team collaborations, you may sense a reluctance to work with other teams, due to the perception of them as competitors, which can limit the potential benefits of diverse skills and fresh perspectives.

Company Events: As you attend company-wide events, you might notice the strong bonds within your tribe leading you to stick together. This could mean missed opportunities for networking and building relationships with members of other teams, further isolating your tribe and reinforcing the 'us vs them' mentality.

Conflict Resolution: If conflicts arise within your tribe, you'll likely see them resolved effectively, thanks to the strong bonds and shared purpose. However, conflicts with other tribes might escalate, as the 'us vs them' mentality could hinder finding a mutually beneficial resolution.

Promotions or Rewards: You'll probably celebrate recognitions and rewards as collective wins, further strengthening the unity of your group. However, the success of individuals from other teams might not be celebrated with the same fervor, creating an environment where only your tribe's achievements are recognized.

These are common scenarios where the Stage 4 mindset can influence your experiences, behaviors, and perspectives at work. Recognizing these patterns can help you understand the strengths and challenges of being part of a Stage 4 tribe.

Tools and Strategies for Improvement

Now, you might wonder how to harness the strengths of this tribal stage while mitigating its drawbacks. The key lies in developing strategies such as follows:

1. Promote Inter-Tribal Relations

Building bridges between your tribe and others can go a long way in breaking down 'us vs them' barriers. Consider organizing informal social events, or initiating team-building exercises that include members from other tribes. Not only will this encourage better understanding and camaraderie, but it may also bring in fresh ideas and perspectives that can drive innovation and growth.

2. Develop a Growth Mindset

Adopting a growth mindset is crucial in viewing other teams not as threats, but as opportunities for learning and growth. By fostering this mentality within your tribe, you can encourage your team members to view interactions with other tribes as chances to learn, grow, and improve. This shift from competition to collaboration can significantly enhance organizational harmony and productivity.

3. Celebrate Collective Success

Encouraging your tribe to celebrate not only your achievements but also those of other teams can be a powerful way to reduce the 'us vs them' divide. This celebration of collective success can create a sense of shared purpose and accomplishment, making room for a more inclusive and harmonious organizational culture.

4. Introduce the Concept of Equity Compensation

Consider advocating for equity compensation, a system where employees receive a share of the company's profits or ownership. This can shift the perspective from individual or tribal success to the overall success of the organization. As every employee has a stake in the company's performance, it fosters a collective 'we're all in this together' mentality, which can mitigate the divisive aspects of Stage 4 tribes.

5. Encourage Cross-Tribal Projects

By actively seeking out opportunities to collaborate with other tribes on projects, your tribe can gain exposure to diverse skills and perspectives. These collaborations can be a platform for learning and growth, breaking down tribal silos, and encouraging a more unified organizational culture.

6. Cultivate Empathy

Encourage empathy within your tribe towards other tribes. Understanding the challenges and strengths of other teams can reduce the sense of rivalry and foster mutual respect. You can initiate empathy-building activities such as job rotations or shared problem-solving tasks to facilitate this understanding.

These strategies, when applied consistently, can guide your journey from Stage 4 towards the more inclusive and holistic Stage 5, where the mantra shifts from 'We're Great (and They're Not)' to 'Life is Great'. And as you evolve, you’ll realize that the journey is just as important as the destination.

Do you feel empowered by this article? Check out more similar content on tribal leadership and ownership mindset here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Casey Fenton

Founder, Upstock & Couchsurfing, AI and Equity Innovator

Casey Fenton, the founder of Upstock & Couchsurfing and an AI and equity innovator, has revolutionized how we perceive and implement equity in the workplace. His foresight in creating platforms that not only connect people but also align their interests towards communal and corporate prosperity has established him as a pivotal figure in technology and community building. Casey speaks worldwide on topics including ownership mindset, worker equity, With Upstock and Couchsurfing, he has demonstrated an unparalleled expertise in harnessing technology for the betterment of community interaction and organizational benefits.

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