Tribal Leadership

David Logan, former Associate Dean of Executive Education @ USC, spoke recently at a TED extension event at USC (TEDxUSC). He shared his findings on the nature of “Tribal Leadership” common in all cultures. He creates a hierarchy of five tribal levels:

Tribal Level One:  gangs and prison populations

Tribal Level Two:  functional organizations (groups of people at the DMV, etc.)

Tribal Level Three:  personal advancement among peers and competitors

Tribal Level Four:

Tribal Level Five:

I’ve left these last two blank. While I understand what David is saying, I’m not convinced that stark categorical definitions can even begin to describe the nature of ethically advanced communities.  I’m sure his book (free download) is far more nuanced and expanded.

David assigns his definitions of “higher community” and then notes that only 2% of human population exists in Tribe Five. I’ve seen this before, and in every place I see it there’s always a strong sense of elitist in-grouping:  gurus, clears, masters, clergy, etc..  I don’t buy it. These kinds of simplifications (five tribal levels, eight spiral colors, etc..) take profoundly complex dynamics and force them into something resembling hierarchical religion.

I’ll read his book and report back. I actually did enjoy his talk at USC and encourage you to watch it. Some valuable insights here from a very charismatic speaker.


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