The importance of building your tribe

By nature, the workspace is a collaborate place where we usually have a number of daily interactions with our peers, managers, suppliers, partners, clients or customers.

Regardless whether you are just setting out in your career or have a number of years of experience to show for yourself, one thing is for sure: we all want and need to cultivate relationships.

Without a strong network of people that you get on with, it can be challenging to find comfort in your workplace. In 2017, I transferred within my organisation and moved from Scotland to our headquarters in London. By then, I had already created a number of great relationships with peers and managers. The problem was that they were all based in my old office.

So I had to effectively start building relationships from scratch again.

The mistake I made was to think that I could just continue to rely on the relationships that I had made in the past. I didn’t realise that I had to continue to form new connections and reach out to people if I wanted to start making a name for myself in the new environment.

I had to build a new tribe.

Tribes are made up of people that you can trust to have your best interests at heart without sugar coating things you may have gotten wrong.

They are a source of learning.

A tribe is not only defined by people you get on with. On the contrary, you want to start building relationships with people that also challenge you. Whenever you are new to a role you will undoubtedly get things wrong and make mistakes. When we operate from the ego we are unable to detect our blind spots. So when mistakes are made we may not even notice at first.

This is where a healthy tribe comes in. You want to create a safe space where you have a handful of people in your close network that can provide you with open and honest feedback where necessary.

When I started in the Glasgow office I relatively quickly managed to establish some good connections with people that were on my projects. They were often more senior with me and were able to see through some of the initial errors I would make.

Instead of ignoring them or playing them down, my mistakes were brought to the surface in a supportive manner. Those early contacts I made would challenge me to think about alternative solutions to the problems I was solving.

They made me realise that I had to broaden my horizon and consider other aspects before settling for an ultimate solution. Those insights were invaluable to me at the time and helped me greatly in showing up more courageously over time.

They also taught me a great deal around emotional intelligence and how to act in the corporate space. These are key lessons to consider, especially when you are looking to grow in your role and aim for more senior roles in the future.

"Great leaders focus on the tribe and only on the tribe."

- Seth Godin

Having a good tribe around you allows you to ask questions in a secure space without fear of judgement. The people in your tribe are generally interested in your professional development and are not there to throw you under the bus. When aiming for promotion your tribe will be there to have your back.

In return, you also need to be there for them to support them through their personal or professional challenges they may be experiencing. And if you are doubting whether you have anything worth contributing that might help them, then perhaps just asking them open questions will be a good first step.

We learn better when we learn together. And tribes are a prerequisite to finding your feet in the corporate world and to building the confidence needed to take on your next challenge.

What happens when you don't build your tribe

On the flipside, if you fail to build a tribe the impact can be severe.

I failed to build a tribe after I moved to the new office. And I was constantly in a place where I would have to second guess my decisions and would be regularly exposed for mistakes or flaws.

As I didn’t have anyone to back me up or challenge my way of thinking I would often feel isolated and doubtful of my abilities. It took away my focus from the job at hand and increased my worry about my work performance as a whole. Having a handful of good, reliable people around me was something I dearly missed and eventually led me to leaving the company.

If you are like me and don’t particularly enjoy networking then that is ok. Asking questions rather than feeling you have to sell yourself was something I wished I had learned earlier.

When we ask questions and overcome our ego we create a space where the people we ask can get a better glimpse of who you are and how you operate. It allows you to form relationships over time and provides a chance to qualify the right people that could make your tribe.

This might take some time and experimentation.

But it is the catalyst for making sure you feel safe in your role, trusted in your abilities and have clarity of your blind spots and areas of improvement.

From that place you can show up more confidently and courageously.

By having the right tribe around you it will help reach your goals at a much faster pace while feeling in control of your path ahead. So go out there, connect with the right people and build your tribe!

This is part 2 of 5 articles I am writing on a series titled: “5 things I wish I had known before joining the corporate world.”

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