Tribes Day 6 – Are You Badgering, Begging, or Calling?

Tribes by Seth GodinToday I have the privilege of leading day 6 of the Tribes group blogging project.  Today’s discussion covers pages 26-30.

Leading from the Bottom

Seth tells the story of how he was tasked with creating several video games by an impossible Christmas deadline with a paltry 3 engineers assigned to him.  A key part of his solution was to start a newsletter, distributed to everyone in the company that “chronicled the work of [his] tribe.  The newsletter connected the tribe members.  It turned a disparate group of career engineers into a working community.”

Others in the company were so inspired, that they joined the movement, volunteering their time to the project.  Through their motivation and hard work they met the deadline and exceeded all expectations.

With the team having grown to Seth and 29 engineers, I imagine they must have had one geeked out party to celebrate.  (Being an engineer, I’m allowed to make geek jokes.)

I don’t know how anyone could read that story and not be inspired.

Badgering and Begging

If you lead anything, then you are asking people to do things.  My experience is that 90% of the time (and yes I just pulled that number out thin air) when a person asks someone to do something, they are either demanding obedience…

“Sue, I need that report from you by end of business today or things are going to get very uncomfortable around here.”

“Bill, when you signed up to lead a teen small group, you committed to being here every Sunday.”

or asking for a favor…

“Biff, I know you’ve got a lot on your plate, but it would be huge if you could replace the skittlebit in the fimflam.  Could you take care of that for me?”

“Alice, hey, we really need someone who would change poopy diapers for a bunch of screaming infants while everyone else is enjoying the service.  Could you help us out with that?”

Ever say anything like this?

I know I have.  (Except for the last one.  My wife has the much envied title of “Chief Poopy Diaper Changer Recruiter” at our church)

I really dislike asking people to do things because it often feels like badgering or begging.  And nobody enjoys that.

Calling People to a Movement

I think it happens when we forget the greater goal (or don’t have one).

For those of us who lead people in a company, our job is not to make a product or provide a service.  Our real job is to lead a movement to better people’s lives through the products or services our companies create whether that’s cars or corn or cleaning services.  Instead of badgering or begging, we should be passionately calling the people we lead to be a part that movement.

We should be saying things like, “Our company is making a real difference by building the best, most affordable cars in the world.  Sue, your report on the latest safety tests is crucial to our making great cars, can you have that for us by the end of the day?”

For those of us who are Christians and lead in our churches, our job is not to fill volunteer slots or fulfill our ministry responsibilities.  Our mission is to invite people to join us in a movement where God is transforming lives.  We should never be badgering people into serving out of a sense of obligation.  We should never feel like we are asking someone to do us a favor by serving.  We are offering people the opportunity to be a part of the greatest cause in human history!

We should be saying things like, “Bill, God is doing amazing things in our teens these days!  Kids who were far from God are coming to faith in Christ.  Kids who were acting out in destructive ways are serving others.  Kids who were lonely, depressed, and unloved are experiencing God’s love and Christian community.  I know there are million things you could be doing on a Sunday night, but you won’t find anything more meaningful than leading a small group of these teens to know God and live their lives as an expression of love for Him.”

Vision Leaks

Deep down, you and your tribe may know your company is about better lives or your church is about transforming lives, but the truth is it’s easy to forget.  We get so caught up in the day to day tasks and turmoil they draw our attention away from the grand vision of the movement.

As Bill Hybels says, “Vision Leaks.”

That is, over time that clear picture of where the movement is headed becomes fuzzy and faded.

To counter that, we need to constantly repaint the picture.  We need to retell the story of why we’re doing what we’re doing.  This is why communication is so critical to the success of a tribe.

But not just any communication will do.

Most companies have newsletters.  Most churches have programs or bulletins.  But most companies and churches are not movements.  That’s in part because most organizations are so busy communicating “what” that they forget to communicate “why.”

Stories Fuel the Cycle of Success

In addition to that, we need to communicate that we’re going in the right direction and progress is being made.  This is best done by telling the stories along the journey.

Momentum is created through cycles of success:  progress is made => the story is told => the story inspires => more progress is made.

But if you don’t tell the stories, you kill the cycle.  You kill momentum.  You kill the movement.  You kill the tribe.

The great thing is it’s sooooo easy to tell stories.  People love to tell their stories.  People love to hear others tell their stories.

Food for thought:

  1. Do you tend to badger, beg, or call people to your movement?
  2. How well are you doing at telling the story of your movement – describing what sparked it and painting a clear picture of the change you’re trying to bring about?
  3. How are you doing when it comes to communicating the stories along the journey or giving your tribe the opportunities to tell their stories?

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