Feathers in the Headdress

The chief level is tough for me.

Like I said on the man-brain level, it's just frowned upon in American society to proclaim oneself the chief. To elevate oneself as the alpha of the pack, or the dominant male of the troop, or a leader of men... these things are simply not done. We believe in democracy.

But the thing about the chief is that the chief is not in charge.

A chief is the keeper of a tribe's story, the steward of its meaning and purpose and why it is a tribe in the first place. And toward that end, a certain degree of power is exerted... but as little as possible.

The problem with most leaders, and I see this in many "coaching" scenarios, is that they are very bound up in being recognised as the leader... but not so much in leading.

Leading is the important part. The tribe exists for a purpose. The tribe is directed at a goal. Let us gather, here, and look toward the goal. Let us consider our purpose. Let us remember our story.

And let us talk amongst ourselves.

This is the key to the tribe's survival, the communication, the ongoing conversation about that purpose and that goal and that story. Do you know the secret language of our tribe? Do you remember our story? Do you know what we are about?

Let me tell you.

Tribes, cults, legions, they run on this specific set of concepts. Many people gather together with a common purpose. They speak a common language, one confusing to outsiders. They divide the world into "us" and "them." They identify their core values, their common enemies, the vision that draws them together. They validate one another. They verify experiences.

Good tribes are self-reinforcing.

That's the real job of a chief - not to punish or censure the misbehavers, but to lead the uncertain in a particular direction. Most tribes consist overwhelmingly (more than 90%) of people who want to be part of the tribe but have no real idea how.

You lead by example. You provide some guidance. You ask leading questions to entice them down the path. You don't simply blow your own horn about what you did with the system. You talk about how the system can be used by others. You remind people of the story, of the secret language, you bring them together with the shared values and goals and principles.

A chief rarely, if ever, punishes his tribe. What he does instead is remove the most egregious offenders. Ruthlessly and without apology.

Scott Adams of Dilbert fame put it best when he said that while arseholes frequently have skills and abilities you would like to keep, in his experience it is simply never worth it. He was talking about management... management is not leadership... leadership is not precisely what chiefs do... but it applies.

And in any given population, there is an irreducible proportion of arseholes.

Your single best disciplinary tool as the chief is to identify an arsehole and remove him from the group summarily, then advertise to the tribe that you removed him because he was an arsehole and invite them to commiserate with you on that fact.

Yeah! That guy was totally an arsehole! Thanks for getting rid of that arsehole! We don't need arseholes in this tribe!

That does your job for you. Anyone who is potentially a redeemable arsehole, who can straighten up and fly right, will see this and go "wow, I am surrounded by people who hate arseholes" and that will encourage him to at least engage in his arseholery elsewhere.

Those who don't weren't going to change anyway, it would have been a waste of time to lecture them, and you're better off just dumping them out of the tribe once they whip out their arsehole at everybody.

Good tribes self-police quite effectively. There's not much need to lay out a lot of laws or establish formal moderation.

But if you kick the arseholes out, and you explain what made them arseholes, and you provide others the ability to say "yeah, what an arsehole" - you put up a pretty effective social fence. It's hard to do much better.

Tomorrow (LOL, more like "after I click publish" because time travel) I'll wrap all this up and go over the BADASS methodology again - but in a day instead of two weeks this time. And then we'll wrap up the week with a revisit of the Manifesto. Stay tuned.