Tribal leadership, where do you fall?

Travis Knowlton LCSW
7 min readSep 29, 2021

David Logan and his colleagues have done some amazing research. They study tribes. Tribes within society, are groups of 20 but no more than 150. I am going to discuss the framework of his T.E.D. talk, but if you want to watch it your self here is the link (

In this talk, David discusses how no matter your socioeconomic background or where you aspire to be, you fall into one of these categories of tribal leadership. listed below are the general world views of those groups

Tier 1: life sucks.

Tier 2: my life sucks.

Tier3: I’m great.

Tier 4: we are great.

Tier 5: life is great.

Upon glance, we all won’t tier 5! but let’s do a breakdown of each tier.

Tier 1- ( life sucks) the statement of gangs, prisons, and school shooters. they see no light at the end of the tunnel and settle for the simple view of everything is an atrocity.

Tier 2: (my life sucks) Someone who transitions from stage one to stage two. For example: when a child from the inner city goes to a school in a fluent neighborhood. They may say “ my life sucks, if I had this money it wouldn't, but I don't so it does”

Tier 3: ( I’m great) this is usually found in highly educated, highly functioning groups and areas of employment. like lawyers, doctors, therapists, and even educators. Essentially it boils down to this- “I’m great and your not”. It’s the sense that we have to compete with one another and have an all-out brawl to the top. Now in a professional setting, the all-out brawl looks like, subtle trash-talking, passive-aggressive comments, small comments, or going to the boss about a colleague over an issue that could have been ignored it handle in a private one on one manner.

Tier 4: In this tier, we have the mindset of a collective society. we look out for each other and have each other's best interest at heart. If there is a point of learning( failure) then we learn and grow together. If we grow and thrive(win) we cross the finish line together. Examples of tier 4 would be medium, here we can all write, assist each other and even collaborate to make not only one writer stand out but a…



Travis Knowlton LCSW

I'm a husband, father, veteran, and licensed clinical social worker that is here to enjoy and share!