You Can’t Have a tribe without a leader

I just finished “Tribes, We Need You to Lead Us” by Seth Godin. It’s a great book and would recommend it to anyone, especially product management.

Seth described a tribe as: “A group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest, and a way to communicate.”

As I thought about that statement, I recognize product management is a large tribe, with shared interest and a desire to be connected by ideas and leaders. In the past year or so, the tribe of product management has gathered from many locations and connected through social media, associations, product camps and other events. Why?

Seth shared, “Being a tribe is a big part of what we do. The tribe is a survival mechanism that gives us a place to contribute and to take from like-minded people.”

In my opinion, the survival and growth of product management as a tribe hangs by leadership. “Sometimes one person leads, and sometimes more. People want connection and growth and something new.” “Your leadership can provide that change. You can’t have a tribe without a leader, and you can’t have a leader without a tribe.” Seth’s points are so true. To truly connect and grow, we need to become more visible leaders.

So, why do you and I have to lead and what’s the value? Seth presents a hypothesis based on “there’s a vast shortage of leaders as the market shifts.” He describes five dynamics that cause tribes and leaders to become valuable:

  1. For the first time, everyone in an organization is expected to lead.
  2. The very structure of today’s organizations means it easy to change things.
  3. The marketplace is rewarding organizations and individuals that change things.
  4. It’s engaging, thrilling, profitable and fun.
  5. There’s a tribe of employees, customers, investors, hobbyist of leaders wanting to be connected.

What leadership experiences will you bring to the tribe? Will you look for new ways to share and stay connected?

My goal this year is to dedicate my time, talents and experience to support a new generation of product management and product marketing leaders. To get things started, here’s a free audio version of Tribe’s, – We Need You to Lead Us and a link to the Tribes Q&A ebook.

I also plan to post content that is relevant to the product management leaders and the community. With your help, insights and knowledge, we’ll work to make the Product Management Tribe even stronger.

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  • Josh Duncan  On January 11, 2010 at 3:21 am


    I like where you are taking your goals for product management! Looking forward to your words of wisdom and good discussions in 2010!



  • Stewart Rogers  On January 21, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    “A group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest, and a way to communicate.”

    But, who is our leader??? Maybe we need a ring.

    “Elrond: I led Isildur deep into the fires of Mount Doom, the one place it could be destroyed… Isildur kept the Ring. It should have ended that day, but evil was allowed to endure. There’s no strength left in the world of Men. They’re scattered, divided, leaderless.
    Gandalf: There is one who could unite them. One who could reclaim the throne of Gondor.”


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