Triads are the Building Block of Stable Relationships: Insight from Tribal Leadership

John King and Dave Logan concluded after a ten year, 24,000-person study, that 75% of our corporate cultures are ineffective. In their NY Times bestselling book, Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization one of the great insights was that the 24% of organizations that were effective had one major difference—they met in “triads”. A triad is not just three people meeting together. It is a relationship where each person is responsible for the quality of the relationship between the other. It is where each person has the other’s back. It’s ‘I’ve got your back and you’ve got mine’ or ‘all for one and one for all’. it is The objective of a triad is to create a peer to peer to peer relationship to accomplish a mutual purpose. “Triads are based on core values and mutual self-interest.”

Let’s face it; most of our working relationships are ineffective. The structure of relationship in most organizations is “hub and spoke.” The CEO is the hub; the spokes are the reporting executives, such as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Chief Operations Officer (COO), and so forth. The hub has a dyadic, or one-to-one relationship, with each of the spokes. The dyadic relationship is inherently unstable, Think of a two legged stool. Three is the minimum number of legs required to make a stable structure.

In a TED Talk, called “Making a Genius Tribe,” Dave Logan says that the key for a successful triad is where everyone is responsible for preserving the relationship between them. When conflicts arise between two people in the group, the responsibility of the third person is to help them patch things up. The third person is what can make the relationship stable.

My friend Steffan Surdek, shares what he has learned about triads in the Tribal Leadership Intensive, in his blog entry.