Community Manager musings: A web of skills “held in tension”, rather than a skills wheel?

Community manager musings is a series of occasional posts looking at the roles and skills of community managers – usually within science. 

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the skills and traits that make a community manager. It’s a challenging role to define because it combines tactical, deliberate actions with emotionally and culturally sensitive leadership. Last week, at a netweaving workshop for those building networks of STEM educators, I learned about this skills web by Bev Wegner-Trayner.

Social learning leadership skills web by Bev Wegner-Trayner. Original version here:


I’m deliberately calling it a web, not a wheel, because one of its defining features is that the skills at each end of any given arrow are usually perceived as opposites and so netweavers or community managers hold these “in tension”, a bit like a cobweb. Community leaders may use different instances of a particular trait depending on specific circumstances, rather than being inclined to one or other end of the spectrum of a feature.

This was a real a-ha moment for me because it brought together some prior observations and some conversations we’d had at the mid-year meeting of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows. Several of us had remarked there that we often find personality typing questionnaires (such as Myers Briggs) to be unhelpful because we typically fall exactly in the middle between any two traits such as extrovert and introvert or detail-oriented versus big picture-focused. For me, this web diagram is a much more helpful way of understanding the roles (and tensions) of those in positions of social leadership.

What do you think? Does this model help you think about the role of those in social leadership positions such as community managers?

6 thoughts on “Community Manager musings: A web of skills “held in tension”, rather than a skills wheel?

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  4. Hi Lou, glad your thoughts on this resulted from our chat! In turn, I’ve been looking more closely for “hidden” Community Engagement Managers in self-organizing teams or organizations with high facilitative leadership. So far what I’ve seen suggests that without someone(s) performing this role — explicitly or tacitly — effective self-organization is much harder. Thanks for sharing!


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