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Leadership Today - Practical Tips For Leaders

Nov 11, 2022


The mindset we bring impacts our ability to build professional connections.



Welcome to episode 163 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we bring research to life in your leadership. This week we explore how the mindset we bring impacts our ability to build professional connections.

One of the challenges and opportunities in any career is building and maintaining professional connections. For some of us, even hearing the word “networking” gets our heart racing - and not in a good way.. Our success in building and keeping these connections is often about the expectations we bring into the relationship.

Attachment theory describes three main sets of mindsets and expectations with which we approach building new connections.

The first attachment type is “Secure”. With this mindset we expect that people want to connect. We also see ourselves as  worthy of those connections. Furthermore, someone with a secure attachment type believes that people can generally be trusted. Having a secure attachment type allows us to establish and maintain connections well. This is what we’re aiming for.The two other attachment types we will consider today are less effective, and can be actively detrimental to building professional connections.

The “Anxious” attachment type assumes that there’s always a risk of losing a connection - that people will just leave one day. As a result, they work overly hard at making connections, and then cling on to people once the connection is made. Ironically this approach makes others more likely to leave, so it becomes a self—fulfilling prophecy.

The third attachment type is “Avoidant”. People with this approach to relationships are also worried about people leaving or letting them down, but instead of clinging on to people, they keep them at a distance. As a result, they form fewer close connections in an effort to protect themselves from someone leaving.

These attachment types are formed through our experiences. If significant people have let us down or left us early in life, it’s probably no surprise that we make an effort to protect ourselves in the future. And the attachment style we use may vary over time and with different circumstances. You might have a secure attachment type outside of work, but be more avoidant at work.

Being aware of the primary attachment styles we demonstrate can help us to actively try new things. If we know we tend to cling on to people, we might focus instead on building a broader network of connections. If we know we tend to avoid making new connections, we might set ourselves a goal to build up the connections we have at work. All of this requires us to step out of our comfort zone, but that is where all growth happens.

So reflect on the attachment styles you tend towards and use this knowledge to build up your professional connections.


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