Do You Want To Be Donald Trump Or Steve Jobs?

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Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to be great and achieve great things. When I interviewed him, John King told me that’s not enough. He’s the co-author of Tribal Leadership, a book that says we have 5 stages of development–and “I’m great” is only stage 3.

John King

John King

Author

John King is the co-author of Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization.

A few lessons from this program

Tribal Leadership’s 5 stages:

Stage 1: Life Sucks – In this stage, a person thinks life itself is terrible and nothing can be done about it.

Example: People in in prison

Stage 2: My Life Sucks – In this stage, an employee knows that life can be better, feels frustrated because he can’t get the better life–usually because of a stage 3 boss.

Example: Dilbert.

Stage 3: I’m Great – At this stage, the person feels that he achieved excellence–but also thinks that everyone else is less than great. Stage 3 bosses end up having stage 2 employees.

Example: Donald Trump

Stage 4: We’re Great – People at this stage work together within an organization and put the good of the whole above the individual. They work together against a common outside foe.

Example: Steve Jobs

Stage 5: Life is Great – At this stage, there is no outside foe. Everyone works together for the improvement of mankind.

Example: The Wikipedia project

(You can also download the full audio book of Tribal Leadership from Zappos.)


  • haha, I just bought that book like three days ago! Weeeeeird

  • Google is another company that is a good example of establishing a corporate culture that is between stage 4 and 5. Even though the culture is non-traditional they continue to deliver a great customer experience which reflects highly on the valuation of the company. thanks Andrew for reminding us about the importance of relationships and the human element behind the most successful companies that not only profit but change the world.

  • I think your ranking suggest that we should prefer to be at stage 5. Life is great ! I am an entrepreneur and I think it is true in way. The fascinating thing is that it is not easy to convince people about it. Life is great! I am sure your post will help… So thanks to you.

  • Andrew Warner

    Deep: Great example with Google. I wonder what a company like Google can do to stay in stages 4 and 5.

    Stetoscope: From my conversation with John, it seems that companies bounce in and out of stage 4 to 5.

  • Andrew Warner

    Luis Sinibaldi said:

    I was listening to the John King interview and when listening to the lack of sustainability of stage 5 within companies, I remembered an old segment I had seen regarding the Company “IDEO” I’m sure they have developed their method by now, but really seemed to be run at a stage 5 level. (unless I misunderstood level 5)

    Here is their web site:

    http://ideo.com/
    Anyway, just wanted to share that with you. Here are some links to the program.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6z-3ejvvGE (part1)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THz6kbcgw9E (part2)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTf18QAEkcY (part3)

  • hughschmidt

    It seems like a take off on simplifications like Don Beck's spiral dynamics, which some of us take with a grain of salt. But, it provides some inspiring templates for pondering small group politics around us. I enjoyed it from cover to cover and am recommending it to colleaugues.

  • hughschmidt

    It seems like a take off on simplifications like Don Beck's spiral dynamics, which some of us take with a grain of salt. But, it provides some inspiring templates for pondering small group politics around us. I enjoyed it from cover to cover and am recommending it to colleaugues.

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