Journal of Sustainable Social Change


Discourse on the psychosocial substrates of human motivation reflects a hot-button theme in contemporary leadership research circles. For many aspiring leaders, role models and social support provide an undercurrent for instilling leadership attributes. Yet for others, the drive to optimize leadership potentials is a naturally occurring, internally guided event that is continually reinforced through self-regulatory processes. As such, questions remain as to which intrinsic motives underpin the leadership potentials that have implications for social change agency. To date, the extant literature fails to offer a comprehensive model that highlights (a) the self-motives that have preeminent applicability to intrinsic motivation, (b) the core ideals engendered by such motives, and (c) the linkages that exist between the core ideals and the leadership drives that underpin social change agency. In the following discussion, a theoretical framework is proposed that highlights seven well-documented theoretical constructs—self-determination, self-efficacy, self-worth, self-enhancement, self-affirmation, self-concordance, and self-actualization—and their overarching relevance to leadership potentials. Each of the aforementioned constructs engenders a corresponding motivational ideal—autonomy, competence, achievement, identity, integrity, congruence, and potentiation, respectively—that hypothetically aligns with one of the seven components of Astin and Astin’s (1996) social change leadership model. Discussion underscores the need for a paradigm shift to enhance awareness of the extent to which specific intrinsic motives and their corresponding ideals have implications for the leadership orientations that underpin social change agency.