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Saturday, May 15, 2021

Chief Executive Insights

Why finding your tribe at work is essential

Sheila Vijeyarasa

The modern high performing leader is one who understands the power of a work tribe as a vehicle to create great change and with velocity. As a corporate leader, are you a locust or a goose?  Hint: you want to be a goose!

When they travel to find new food sources, locusts migrate in a swarm and geese soar in a streamlined V-shape formation. To an outsider it looks as if both the locusts and geese are moving as a tribe, with a common purpose and vision. But don’t be mistaken, these are two very different experiences!

Researchers have shown that the mass migration of locusts, in vast swarms, is driven by cannibalism and sustained by fear. Locust swarms are formed because they are desperate to stay a step ahead of their cannibalistic fellow locusts. The individual locust that fails to continue moving forward is likely to be attacked and risks becoming a source of food for others in the swarm. Yes, you fear that your fellow locust will eat you alive if you do not continue to follow the rules and move forward!  Do you feel like a locust within your current work environment? Is every day a struggle just to survive? Are you trying to fit in? Trying to not be consumed by the collective limiting beliefs that don’t work for you anymore? Being a locust within the corporate context diminishes performances, causes mistakes, and significantly reduces job satisfaction.

Sheila Vijeyarasa

Geese, on the other hand, fly in a V-shape formation, which enhances communication and coordination. Because of this, these birds beat their wings less often and conserve energy on a long and difficult journey. Also, to keep things fair, geese take turns being in the front, with each bird moving to the back when they get tired. Like the geese, when you soar with your work tribe, they will support you when the winds change direction in your life. They will fly in a V formation with you and allow you to fly higher, faster and further than you ever could on your own. They allow you to rest and recuperate when you need a break, and to step up and to take your place to lead when it is your time. Your journey to where you are going is much easier. And you provide the same support to your corporate tribe– you make their journey easier as well. By being in a flock with your corporate tribe, the individual purpose of each employee is served and you all achieve flow and learn to soar!

5 essential reasons to create a work tribe:

  1. As a leader you are going to make uncomfortable decisions. It is imperative that you have a team around you that sees your vision and supports your goals. A collegiate tribe will challenge your vision in a way that improves the outcome but as a group, you will move forward to create greater influence and positive change. They will also be a spokesperson for your vision and will create greater influence through a workplace.
  2. Even a wolf needs to belong if they are to survive. We rarely achieve notable success on our own. We spend many hours with our colleagues, bosses and staff. These relationships are an important part of the ecosystem for our mental health. It is essential that we experience kindness and compassion within these relationships. Furthermore we need to be interested in each other’s lives as people. Our personal lives do not stop when we clock into our jobs. Death, divorce, illness, financial difficulties are the realities that we all experience. A tribe at work can support us through life’s challenges, and still allow us to thrive at work. A tribe creates meaningful relationships – and this is what creates longevity for a team in the workplace.
  3. People can hide at work. It is a common human condition to experience fear and shame. We spend long hours at work and uncomfortable emotions inevitably arise. During our workday, we make mistakes, we are late to meetings and misunderstood communication can create a public feeling of shame and humiliation. Tribes do not fear mistakes. A strong tribe at the work can carry an individual employee through these situations, where these situations can offer great growth. The immediate benefits are a stronger sense of self and confidence for staff. As a CFO for a major publishing house, I saw this time and time again.  A staff member who is functionally useless because they are paralysed by fear, can become a super-star if they start to feel that they are protected at work and can be freed from their fear and shame.

Once you have found your tribe at work, you will fly. Once you have created a tribe at work, your staff will spread their wings and soar!


Written by Sheila Vijeyarasa. Have you read?
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Sheila Vijeyarasa
Sheila Vijeyarasa is the author of Brave: Courageously Live Your Truth (Rockpool: $29.99). She is a transformational coach. She combines spiritual wisdom with executive leadership coaching to empower you to go out and transform your life.

Books by Sheila Vijeyarasa:
Sheila VijeyarasaBrave: Courageously Live Your Truth.

Sheila Vijeyarasa is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine.