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The High Performance Tribe

Remember your first day as a supervisor. Remember the feeling of NOW WHAT? Remember how that was the overwhelming question?


Simple. BE SUCCESSFUL. Right? Thats what good supervisors do! That is what we all have said to ourselves on our first day at the helm. So it begs the question, What is success to the supervisor?

For most supervisors it means; make the most, produce the most, get the most, save the most. Get the people to do these things. Raise productivity. Reduce waste and wasted time. We are now in the game of efficiency and effectiveness.

Sound familiar? This outlook tends to be really lopsided. It doesn't take care of its people and results in a consistent revolving door of direct reports entering and exiting the organization. It is also taxing, like sprinting the 2000M race and realizing in the last leg that the race was actually an ultra marathon. Pushing really hard for success results in burnout.

When going full throttle for success and "winning" we heavily rely on our home life. In my line of work a really big red flag is trouble at "home". We lean on the stability of home and family. It makes the sprint to success possible. When home becomes the primary stressor, burnout is achieved much quicker. Our candle begins to burn real low and what was once a bright light is now a very dim silhouette.

The thing is... home will inevitably be a stressor. It's called life folks. Its the sparring partner that agrees to a boxing match then aggressively kicks between the legs.

I was really lucky when the script flipped on me. My home life was a complete wreck. My ex-spouse and I were really struggling. Marital life was uninspired and hopeless. There was also building financial pressures from a stalled business venture. This really came to ahead resulting in the Krakatoa of life stress explosions exerting itself on my heart and soul.

The thing was...I was damn lucky. Work was going so well. Not because I was "winning" and extra successful. It was because my team was extremely capable with excellent teamwork and comradery, and I had a place in my organization to confide in my peers(yes sometimes with tears in eyes). We were all really close. We all relied on one another and during times of struggle we were there for one another. Without this group I'm not sure I could have successfully navigated the most epic storm of my life. I'm in debt to that group.

It was this experience that made me start reevaluating my priorities for my team as well as my life. It shifted my mindset from sprinting headlong towards the goal, to adopting postures and a mindset better for doing life in.

Making "BE SUCCESSFUL" the primary objective is wrong. Its chasing the baked cake without learning how to cook. For those that know how to "cook", watching others pursue success is sloppy. It's like watching the cake being made with no regard to ingredients and insisting that broil is the ONLY temperature it should be made at. The charcoaled remains is the "success cake". Success can be reached by the direct pursuit of it. It is, however, highly inefficient to go this route.

The most efficient path to "success" is the byproduct of something else. It's the byproduct of the constant pursuit of two goals.

The first goal is to train and develop the team into a high performance team. The individual member is TRAINED to be highly skilled. The team is organized with systems and processes to maximize its effectiveness. The individual and team is aligned to a clearly communicated vision and actively work to achieve it.

The second goal is to transform the team into a tribe. Tribe describes a level of support, commitment, security, affection, and comradery that is deeper than the team experiences. Ultimately its the commitment that we are doing life together. It's a deep investment and care to the people of the tribe. The tribe gets the individual through the unfair sparring matches with life, the existential crisis, and the occasional grind time that work life brings us.

The Nirvana achievement of these two goals is The High Performance Tribe. This group achieves the milestones and redefines what success is. Much like how a career marathon runner doesn't have to make goals on losing weight, the High Performance Tribe doesn't have to make aggressive goals to "make the most, produce the most, get the most, save the most." It's a byproduct. That's because this group chases goals that are much bigger than what the "average team can accomplish.

We need a change. That change is what we perceive success as, and how to go about pursuing it. We need to quit baking our "success cakes" on broil and start learning how to cook. As leaders we need to continuously learn on and then pursue two goals:

  1. Build the high performance team.

  2. Transform our team into a tribe.

Making these our goals is how we get a byproduct of success.

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