This week’s Pearl of Leadership Wisdom is on Tribalism

A nasty little human trait. Not to be confused with troilism, which I am told is altogether more agreeable.

Tribalism – I can imagine it once had a purpose: caves….swamps…dinosaurs…other tribes…volcanoes…Raquel Welch wearing a fur bikini made from the pelts of two dwarf hamsters…yes being in a tribe probably had some benefits.

But does this serve us today?

All out…

The ludicrous spectacle of the highest paid cabin staff in the airline world going on strike for, if they’d had their way, 12 days over Christmas and, when thwarted, for a similar period over Easter – total madness. This idiocy was only slightly moderated when someone, and I can guess who, invited the Unite union’s 62 year old leader Tony Woodley’s to re-arrange these words into a well known phrase – nose, your face, you’re cutting off your, to spite, you twat…

Go on, go on, go on, go on, go on….

Then we have the diminutive British Airways boss “Wee” Willie Walsh reacting by removing the 90% discount on airfares enjoyed by many of the strikers. A benefit that allows many of them to live abroad, but work from a UK base. And saying this will not be re-instated no matter what…

Now, this hard-arsed response appeals to the club swinging Neanderthal in me, but I keep him in a cave in my mind. The rest of me sees this as a bit like punching someone until they see your viewpoint and will be another contributory factor to the decades-old crap relationship that has existed between the tribes in BA.

Order, order…

Don’t get me started on political parties. Too late. In this democracy free-zone called the UK I essentially have to give my vote to one of the tribes who run around clubbing each other based on their particular ideology (by the way – ideology: definition– a substitute for independent thought).

And we wonder why people feel disenfranchised – when the vast majority live in a constituency that is either one colour or the other and their vote has little meaning other than to reconfirm their area’s tribal leanings.


Perhaps the most insidious tribes of all; the organised religions. Where maintenance of the integrity (ha!) of the tribe comes before dealing with the rampant criminality within it. OK, I’m talking about one particular tribe here, but all the major tribes have got form.

It doesn’t have to be this way…

It mustn’t be this way. People will never achieve their potential whilst they allow a tribal mentality to suffocate their ability to think independently. A tribe mentality assumes everything is a zero-sum game – someone wins, someone loses. Most tribes are introverted, myopic, hateful and untrusting. It leads to ingrained, negative behaviour.

There are no dinosaurs. It’s time to put the club down.


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4 Responses to Tribalism

  1. kerry painter April 5, 2010 at 11:09 am #

    Mark. how can i share yur stuff on twitter?

    • Mark Nugent April 5, 2010 at 12:09 pm #

      Hi Kerry, I’ve just put a retweet button on every post. Hope this works. And thanks for thinking my posts merit this. Mark

  2. Susan Walker April 15, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

    Tribalism – sounds like a level out of Spiral Dynamics to me. With first level being survival or self preservation and focussing on ones self, next level being tribalisim focussing on others, third level being power focus on self, fourth level being system focus on others, fifth level entreprenurial focus on self, sixth level community focus on others and second tier starts at level 7 flexflow focus on self. You can not skip a level to progress however, you can drop a level and then you gotta go through it all again!!

  3. Mark Nugent April 18, 2010 at 7:42 pm #

    Susan – I have to say I am unaware of “Spiral Dynamics”. Is there a place I can get the low-down on what’s what?



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