The Tribal Nature of Business

Many years back, I had two guys working for me in sales. They were both exceptional performers and great friends. Eventually they made plans to move on and start their own company together. So they left my organization and jumped into the same business right in my backyard.

Turncoats or just ambitious entrepreneurs?

The senior sales leadership in my organization was outraged. They wanted to eviscerate these men and especially their reputations. I honestly didn’t understand that. These guys were part of my “work family” and had become my friends. I didn’t feel betrayed, just because they decided to leave. It didn’t make them any less of a friend. I’ve maintained my relationship with these guys, always taking their calls and defending their names within my organization. After about a year with my influence, they both rejoined my organization and have had stellar careers. You might say that “boomerang” of kindness came back home.

Ironically, both still work for the organization that I eventually moved on from to start my own venture. And today, I still count both of these men as friends.

On the flip side.

However, I noticed that a few of my “friends” chose to take my leaving as an opportunity to become my “enemies.” But, from my perspective, nothing had changed other than a business card.

Why does a logo on a card change someone so quickly? Are we really that influenced by some tribal human nature? Do we lack the intellectual honesty to see past it? Or do some just lack basic honesty all together?

Could it be homophily? The fact that humans love to associate with others who are similar. That could be used to explain this phenomenon. It could also be used to explain racism, sexism, homophobia and a slew of other very dark human characteristics.

So, maybe we should fight the urge to embrace the tribal nature of business. Because in the end – the inevitable, final end – we will not be judged by the logo on our business card.