Secure Base Leadership- How to Be a Leader Your Employees Want to Work For

Group of business people with hands in centre. Text overlaid read Secure Base Leadership

In the dynamic and ever-changing landscape of leadership in organizations, the concept of secure base leadership has emerged as a powerful and transformative approach.

Drawing inspiration from attachment theory, secure base leadership goes beyond traditional leadership models and addresses the needs of employees at a human level. Acknowledging and meeting these needs leads to improved organizational results in areas like engagement, retention, and turnover.

In this blog post, we explore the principles and benefits of secure base leadership and provide you with actionable tips to implement in your organization today.

For further support in implementing these principles, refer to our Corporate Workshops at Work services.

What is Secure Base Leadership?

At its core, secure base leadership is grounded in John Bowlby’s attachment theory. Which presumes that individuals thrive when they feel secure, supported, and encouraged by the people who matter to them.

When individuals know they are able to reach and connect with the people they need, when they need them, they have a secure base from which they can go explore the world and be creative.

While these attachment figures are more typically parents or romantic partners, leaders act as a secondary attachment figure for their teams in the workplace.

If they are able to provide a trusting environment, they can be viewed as a secure base from which their team members can take risks, learn, grow, and manage conflict.

This leadership style is based on the psychological principle that secure attachments enable individuals to explore and achieve their full potential.

Characteristics of Secure Base Leadership

1- Foster a culture of trust

Trust is the key ingredient of secure relationships. Leaders who prioritize trust create an atmosphere where team members feel comfortable expressing their ideas, taking calculated risks, and engaging in open communication, knowing they will be accepted.

This trust serves as the foundation for innovation, collaboration, and a positive workplace culture. Show your employees they can trust you by hearing their ideas and assuring them their perspective is valuable.

what is secure base leadership

2- Listen and inquire

Rather than telling your employees about how things are, invite their perspective based on where they sit in the organization.

Hear your employees’ view, inquire about their ideas for strategy, and show you hear them by implementing their suggestions.

Characteristics of Secure Base Leadership

3- Promote individual growth

Secure base leaders invest in the development of their team members, providing opportunities for learning and skill-building.

By encouraging continuous growth, leaders build trust by showing their employees that they care about their development. This approach not only benefits the individual but also enhances the overall capability of the team.

corporate therapist

4-Reframe to highlight the Positive

Secure Base Leaders help people to focus on the positive rather than the negative. Which helps them create hope and stay motivated.

Give constructive feedback focusing on what you do want to see in your employees. Keeping them inspired to see their potential and continue learning and growing.

secure leadership skills

5-Embrace failure as a chance to learn

A secure base naturally provides people with the opportunity to take risks. Knowing the secure base will be there to support them if they fall.

Secure base leaders reframe failure as a natural part of the learning process.

Leaders encourage risk-taking, understanding that setbacks can lead to valuable lessons and growth. By focusing on resilience, secure base leaders create a culture where innovation and creativity can flourish.

Growing as a Secure Base Leader

Growing as a Secure Base Leader

Developing the skills to become a secure base leader require time and attention to unconscious patterns. Staying connected to your employees through ongoing well-being initiatives can help to start creating interactions that will build a secure base.

Working with an onsite corporate therapist trained in systemic therapy can also guide you to develop the attachment-informed skills you need to support your employees, drive productivity, and reduce retention.


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