Leader and follower attachment styles: Implications for authentic leader-follower relationships

Amanda S. Hinojosa, Kelly Davis McCauley, Brandon Randolph-Seng, William L. Gardner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Authentic leadership theory posits that the authenticity of leaders and followers is influenced by their personal histories. Attachment theory states that individuals have internal working models that are influenced by both early developmental experiences and relationships later in life. These models guide how people interact with close others and tend toward three styles of attachment: secure, insecure-ambivalent, and insecure-avoidant. We argue that securely attached persons are most likely to exhibit authentic leadership/followership. We review empirical work which suggests that secure attachment is positively related to each of the four components of authentic leadership/followership (self-awareness, relational transparency, balanced processing, and internalized moral perspective). We then develop an attachment-based typology for variations in authentic leader-follower relationships, with emphasis on relationships that include an insecurely attached party. Finally, we draw from the attachment and authentic leadership literatures to suggest interventions to foster the development of authentic leadership/followership, thereby enhancing authentic leader-follower relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595-610
Number of pages16
JournalLeadership Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Attachment theory
  • Authentic leadership
  • Followership
  • Leader-follower relations
  • Leadership development


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