The Attached Leader: The Development of Trust and How it Influences Leadership Styles

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Klaassen, Guiljaam (William)
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Throughout the last century, much work and research has been done to identify the personality styles and traits of effective leaders (Ainsworth & Bowlby, 1991; Towler, 2005; Lencioni, 2014; Sethuraman & Suresh, 2014; Personality Types, 2016). However, it has become increasingly clear that leadership is not purely trait-based and incidentally, research has also not shown any significant correlation between traits and effective leadership (Maxwell, 2007, 2011; Lencioni, 2014). We have learned, however, that leadership is all about influence (Maxwell, 2007, 2011; Prewitt, Weil, & McClure, 2011). There is also enough evidence to believe that the amount of influence we have on others is based on levels and perceptions of trust (Greenleaf, 1970; Lencioni, 2014). With this in mind, attachment theory emerged about 60 years ago and seems to hold much promise in being able to predict leadership styles. We have also learned that trust, towards both self and others, is a key component of attachment (Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991; Mikulincer & Shaver, 2007). Furthermore, research has shown that there are correlations between attachment styles and preferences for a particular type of leader (Riaz & Haider, 2010; Shalit, Popper, & Zakay, 2010). This however, does not answer the question that I begin to explore in this paper; does our attachment style predict our leadership style. Only a scant handful of studies have been conducted to look at this particular question. Yet, this question is paramount. One only has to visit the self-help section in a bookstore to know that a plethora of literature exists that describes how to be an effective leader and how to influence others, but there is very little literature on how our individual development influences the leaders we become. Therefore, if we can answer that question, then the numerous possibilities of how to train effective leaders suddenly become limitless.
leadership , attachment
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