Here are some excerpts from Seth Godin’s recent book called Tribes (pp. 66-69, emphasis added):
Imagine two classrooms with similar teachers. One has fifteen students, the other, thirty-two. Which group gets a better education?
All other things being equal, the smaller class will always do better. The teacher has more time to spend customizing the lesson to each student. She has fewer students, hence fewer disruptions as well.
Now, flip the experiment around. What if the fifteen students are begrudgingly taking the course as a requirement for graduation, while the thirty-two had to apply to be admitted and are excited to be there.
Tribes are increasingly voluntary. No one is forced to work for your firm or attend your services. People have a choice of which music to listen to and which movies to watch.
So great leaders don’t try to please everyone. Great leaders don’t water down their message in order to make the tribe a bit bigger….
You’re not going to be able to grow your career or your business or feed the tribe by going after most people. Most people are really good at ignoring new trends or great employees or big ideas.
You can worry about most people all day, but I promise you that they’re not worried about you. They can’t hear you, regardless of how hard you yell.
Almost all the growth that’s available to you exists when you aren’t like most people and when you work hard to appeal to folks who aren’t most people.
Godin presents a vivid new vision for leadership in the current age of global connection, and asks us to think – really think – about the need for people who are passionate about something to mobilize groups of others who share that passion. “Leadership is not management,” says Godin. “Leaders have followers. Managers have employees. Managers make widgets. Leaders make change. Change? Change is frightening, and to many people who would be leaders, it seems more of a threat than a promise. That’s too bad, because the future belongs to our leaders, regardless of where they work or what they do.”
So, if you’re a leader of a tribe, are you focused on the power of your message, or flailing around trying to tailor that message so that “everyone” gets it?
And, if you’re in a tribe that just doesn’t fit your passion, are you fighting it? Or are you freeing yourself to either lead your own tribe or find a leader that you can genuinely follow?
Godin also gave a TED talk on this subject: