These two pieces of content don’t really go together, but I didn’t have much to say about each of them separately, so I decided to combine them to a single post. They do share a discovery origin story: I came across both of them doing a rather extensive academic research review in the area of social networks analysis. While they were mostly used as scaffolding to support the more relevant research that I was reading about, I found them compelling enough in their own right to make note of them and add them to my ever-growing toolbox of frameworks and mental models.
Susan Fiske’s social motives construct is covered in detail in Social Beings: Core Motives in Social Psychology. Fiske’s theory posits that five needs shape an individual’s propensity for social interaction:
- Belonging — the desire for strong stable relationships with others.
- Understanding — the need to predict what is going to happen and make sense of what does happen.
- Controlling — the need to perceive contingencies between our actions and outcomes, to be effective, in control and competent.
- Self-enhancing — the desire to maintain self-esteem. A drive towards self-improvement and status attainment.
- Trust — the need to see the world as a benevolent place. Expecting good outcomes, especially from other people.
2 & 3 are more cognitive-based motives, while 4 & 5 are more affective-based motives.
There are some solid similarities here to SCARF (status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, fairness), BICEPS (belonging, improvement, choice, equality, predictability, status) and Wilson & Walton’s meaning-making engine (understand, self-integrity, belonging) suggesting either a shared origin or a deeper shared truth about the human condition.
I came across this construct in a fascinating paper called The topology of collective leadership which was using Carson and Tesluk’s 2007 paper as the primary lens to look at different leadership patterns across teams, but I was unable to track down the original piece. So here’s the summary from the paper I did read:
Carson and Tesluk (2007) observed that there is a large degree of convergence around four distinct roles that are important for team leadership:
- Navigator — enables the collective to establish and maintain a clear purpose and direction.
- Engineer — structures the collective and the task, coordinating the contributions of team members to meet the goals of the collective.
- Social integrator — maintains healthy and productive social interactions and relational processes within the collective.
- Liaison — develops and maintains relationships with key external stakeholders servings as both an advocate and ambassador for the collective.
These distinctions seem to align very well with my own experience and can potentially serve as a good template when we look to “unbundle management”.