Tribal Leadership describes 5 stages of personal/professional development. Stage 1 is characterized by the phrase “Life sucks!” Representing 2% of the professional population, this stage is typified by those individuals who can barely cope with the misery they see around them. This is very similar to Friedan’s “problem with no name” – the angst and ennui of housewives stuck in suburbia with children and a tedious existence whose only purpose was cooking for and pleasing their husbands.
Stage 2 (representing 25% of the professional population) is characterized by the phrase “MY life sucks!” It represents a clear step forward, recognition of ownership of one’s own problems, and an awareness of self separately from the amorphous world that surrounds us. This stage is similar to the early phase of the women’s movement, where women stepped out of their traditional roles through rebellious activities and bra-burning.
Stage 2 (where 49% of the professional population dwells) is described by the phrase “I’m great – YOU suck!” At this stage, the individual has developed a stronger sense of self and a personal “expertise” – both of which are good things – AND she knows it – which also is a good thing, subject to limitations which have not yet been recognized. Too often, this is where a woman gets “stuck” thinking that she alone can do it all, that she must always be in control, and that everyone else is a lesser being. If she stays in this stage, she is inviting stress and burn-out because nobody can do it all alone. Human beings are essentially social entities.
Progress occurs when she moves forward and realizes the power and value of effective collaborations, everywhere. Stage 4 is where “We’re great!” defines the state of mind. At this stage, teams get built, and their accomplishments fuel the enthusiasm of individuals who make up the group. A key ingredient of Stage 4 is the synergies of skills and values among team members. Diversity contributes to thoughts, words, and deeds of this stage.
Stage 5 (a rarity at 2% of the professional population) is when magic occurs, “Life’s great!” These are the encounters with the top of the mountain – the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, the 1980
US hockey team championship, the Mars Rover landing, as a few examples. Individual women achieve this stage as “outstanding women” and “women in leadership.” As with the rest of the world, this is a rare occasion. It would be nice, if we could work toward creating more such experiences for all women in leadership – women achieving top tier positions in politics, appointments to courts and departments, women rising to top C-suite and board level positions.
Here’s to celebrating more and more Stage 5 experiences for women and men alike!