Tribal Leadership Insight: The Principles of Effective Triads

John King and Dave Logan concluded after a ten year, 24,000-person study, that 75% of our corporate cultures are ineffective. (Published as Tribal Leadership 2008) The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. One of the great insights of their research was that the 24% of organizations that were effective had one major difference—they met in “triads”. A triad, at its most basic level, is three people that meet together. The objective is to create a peer-to-peer-to-peer relationship for accomplishing a mutual purpose. What follows are the best practices or principles for creating effective triads.

  1. Common Interest. “Triads are based on core values and mutual self-interest.” The purpose of three people meeting is to contribute to one another towards a common goal or cause. What is your mutual interest?
  2. Collaboration. The way of being in a triad is supportive. It’s ‘I’ve got your back and you’ve got mine’ or ‘all for one and one for all’. “The triad provides a level of support that often comes as a surprise to people.” (p191)
  3. Authenticity. Authenticity is being real with one another. It is transparency and speaking the naked truth without fear of looking bad or holding back out of fear of rejection.
  4. Contribution. It is a way of being with one another, where the intention is always to come from contribution and not ego or judgment. “Once the triad is established, all the roles merge and morph, requiring each person to contribute to, and receive contributions from, the other two.” (p 204) It is like a flock of geese, where each goose takes a turn leading. Each person in the triad steps in when it is appropriate. Triads are vibrant, values-based, and filled with people giving their best efforts—leading and being led at the same time.” (p 185)
  5. Identify & leverage core values. “Values are only manifest when they are called and they are only called when they are missing; when a value is missing, the anchor presences the value.” An anchor is a device that is used to connect a vessel to prevent it from drifting due to wind or current. In a triad, the anchor connects each person to their values in order to prevent the relationship from drifting. Each person is an anchor for the quality of the relationship between the other two, and consciously nurtures the relationship.

Way of Being:

  • Be Authentic
  • Be Accepting
  • Be Present
  • Be Useful

Value of Triads:

  • Opportunity to get an unbiased perspective from peers that have no hidden agenda
  • Help with decisions, challenges, problems
  • Expertise, diversity and experience of team members
  • Fresh ideas and perspectives
  • Share resources
  • Benchmark
  • Strategize
  • Hold one another accountable