Smart Tribes

At last week’s Leadership Summit, I was blown away by Christine Comaford‘s talk about her book SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together. There’s a ton in this book, but to sum it up, we’re all better off if we can keep our brains in their “smart state” and avoid being pulling into our “critter state.” The critter state is what she calls being run by our reptilian and/or mammalian brain, rather than using our whole brain, including the neocortex, that part that really makes us human, and smart. Any why do we fall into that critter state? We need to feel safe, that we belong, and that we matter. When any of these are put into doubt, we go into our critter state. There’s a lot of detail in the book about how to organize our companies such that our people feel part of the tribe and can access their smart state most of the time. If you decide not to read the book, here’s your action: Think back to earlier today or yesterday or last week if you have to. When were you in your critter state (lost your temper, felt alone or misunderstood, frustrated, etc). What was the cause? Did you not feel safe (money stuff is often the root here)? Did you not feel like you belong (your contributions not being accepted, for example)? Did you not feel like you matter (working just to work without making a difference, for example)? What about the people close to you? When was the last time your spouse or kids were in the critter state? What could you have done differently to leave them feeling safe, belonging and mattering?

See also: More Smart Tribes


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