Tribes. I'm not talking about indigenous tribes. Or, I am. A little bit.
I'm talking about tribes in the sense of the little groups in which we all clump together.
Groups that share an idea, a worldview, an interest or a desire. We're all part of a tribe. Of many different ones. Some you are more connected with than others.
Not every group is a tribe. With a tribe, there's a clear distinction with who's in, and who's out. Beliebers, Dead-Heads, Hell's Angels. All tribes.
Left-handed people? Not so much. Left-handed people who are fighting for scissor-equality for all. Yes. A collection of companies in a co-working building. Not a tribe. A community of entrepreneurs in a co-working space with a shared mission for social change. Yes, a tribe.
But also, the team at a company that wants to get the get the division to the next milestone.
What does this have to do with freelancing when you offer services to businesses?
You might be offering a service like design, workshops or videos to companies. Hopping from one client to the other.
The client you serve, probably has a lot to learn from and to give to someone in a similar situation in a different company. They run into similar issues. Perhaps even have the same outlook on the world.
Their mission in work might even be bigger than the scope of their respective companies. They could both be fighting to make their companies more carbon neutral or inclusive because they want the world to be like that, for example.
Connecting to each other would greatly help both of them. They are a tribe waiting to happen. Before they're connected, they're merely the tribe members before the tribe. A tribe waiting to be lead.
The added (or main) benefit is that it changes the fabric of your work. Changing from 'gigging' to something bigger than yourself. In fills it with purpose, contribution and a change you like to see in the world.
The opportunity is there for you to step into that role as tribe leader.
Say, you're a type designer of Arabic scripts. You could 'merely' do Arabic-inspired design. But as a tribe leader, you can lead people that share your mission to enable Arabic scripture to be presented in its full glory. That we Westerners can see the beauty of this language. And that people from or with roots in that region can be seen for all their beauty. Then, you're on a mission, and leading people that share this desire.
Or, say you're a collective of trainers that organises workshops on sustainability and leadership for schools and organisations. As a tribe leader, you're leading the people that want to move their organisation towards a more sustainable one, by enabling them to spread their message in their company and build capacity for these skills. You can connect these change makers with each other and lead a community of them.
For a mentor of starting artists. You could coach them one-on-one. And, you could lead a tribe. You can connect these artists with each other and with venues (etc.), share your expertise and enable them to help each other.
A video creator? Of course, you can make a company video for each individual company. Or, you lead a tribe of company founders that are really passionate about their employees and want to highlight their people by creating video portraits. Connecting these people in that passion creates the opportunity for them to grow as CEOs for their people.
Graphical designers/Artists, can lead CEOs that value art and believe that their work is a little like art itself. By hiring artists, they can connect their brand to artistry. Through his work, the artist showcases the company. Connecting the CEOs together changes their perception to the work from a "joy to have" to being part of a movement with momentum for a more beautiful world.
The business beauty in this is that leading them on a larger mission connects you with more people through your work than strictly your clients. And by connecting these people, the work you do for them becomes something they talk about. More connections and more chatter means more business for you.
Hope these examples help you in your thinking on how you can lead.
PS: These examples aren't entirely random. I've based them on the 7 participants of my latest Strategy Program. It's not there business strategy per sé, but it's my tribal spin on their business. Want to join a Strategy Session with me? There's an 2-Day Intensive on January 24-25, and a 2-Month Program in Feb-Mar.