Attachment and leadership: A qualitative exploration of how adult attachment style is expressed in leadership behavior

by Boyd, James D., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2015, 167 pages; 3684949


Attachment theory and leadership theory developed on parallel paths beginning around the middle of the twentieth century, and they intersected at the topic of relationships about 15 years ago. Attachment theory explains much about human development and the nature of how people function in context of relationships. Leadership theory has found itself dependent on the issue of relationships for the successful function of leaders in the workplace. Leadership theorists, however, have only begun to embrace attachment theory as a useful component of leadership behavior and development. This qualitative exploration of leadership behavior viewed through the lens of attachment seeks to further shed light on the impact of attachment theory on leadership behavior. Eighteen leaders were interviewed about their values and behaviors regarding relationships within the workplace and their answers were analyzed through the lens of attachment theory. The emergent themes of the research were congruent with the intersection of attachment theory and leadership theory and for the first time illustrated in practical terms that a leader's behavior toward followers is guided in large part by the internal working model of their attachment. This study builds on existing literature by establishing the behavioral intersection of attachment theory and leadership theory and provides a platform for further research and for the integration of attachment theory into leadership training and literature. These findings further emphasize the need for leadership theorists to use attachment theory as a primary basis for leadership development and problem solving with regard to how leaders function in relationship with peers and subordinates.

AdviserApril Boyington Wall
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsEducational leadership; Management
Publication Number3684949

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