Framework on Attachment, Leadership Skills & Trust

Interview with Mukara Meredith, MSW

How do you see attachment history effect leadership skills?

I entered the Leadership Field through the door of Innovation, so the leaders I work with tend to be more open, resourced and creative. These folks are often on the cutting edge of what’s possible and are willing to try new things. Nevertheless, their ability to be effective and generative leaders is directly impacted by their capacity for mindfulness, empathy, relationship, and an understanding of the brain, body and the fruits of healthy adult attachment.
I have an on-going, nine-year contract with a large USA corporation and the current leader is an excellent Director. Securely attached, he lives out of this definition of Leadership: “A good leader is someone, who by their presence brings forth the best in others, and ensures that this best in others remains even in the absence of the leader.”

More generally, I would name five things that Securely Attached leaders are able to ensure for those who report to them:

  1.  Ensure feelings of Safety within a matrix of connection.
  2. Ensure workers are informed, engaged and included in organizational decisions.
  3. Ensure workers are free to act with autonomy.
  4. Ensure and encourage establishment of relationships based on mutuality and respect.
  5. Ensure the creation of cultures of nourishment, well-being and fairness.

A great example is the new hire for Apple–Angela Ahrendts–who has a great reputation for changing the culture and improving results for businesses. Her two main tools/skills are EMPATHY and RELATIONSHIP. Read about her in the January 2014 Fast Company. This is what works in the 21st Century.

How do you feel different attachment styles (Secure, Avoidant, Ambivalent, Disorganized) might relate to or use power?

Mukara: SECURELY ATTACHED Leaders are able to share power and know the power of working with the Collective Genius that is inherent in Groups, Teams and whole organizations. The old saying that ‘no one of us is as smart as all of true now more than ever. Securely attached leaders move seamlessly from consciousness of Me to We and to the Whole. I am currently working with a company whose one and only value is the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is on everyone’s employee badge and is a lived experience in the company. At first, I thought this was a bit strange, but as I have gotten to know the leaders, I have seen this lived authentically. My bias is that working in this company has helped leaders become more securely attached! Placing this kind of value on the Golden Rule builds safety and connection throughout the company.

AVOIDANT: If this pattern is dominant, work relationships suffer for lack of genuine intimacy and closeness. When power is used to maintain distance and isolation, extraordinary problem-solving creativity is lacking in the context. Speaking truth to power rarely happens and the system becomes stuck in mediocrity.

AMBIVALENT: If this pattern is dominant, work relationships might have more drama than is common in the business world. In my experience, if this pattern is strong in a leader, companies get coaching for them–sometimes this works, sometimes not. I have seen cases where HR got involved and did not know how to help the Leader with this pattern. Use of power is often erratic and fragmenting to the workgroup. DISORGANIZED: Not seen so much in the business world.

What is the best way to build trust between bosses and employees?

Mukara: Start by believing that trust is vital to the cultivation of relationships and cultures of nourishment and well-being. Steven Covey’s book, the Speed of Trust is a good resource.

Trust happens when:

  • We relate to one another with an assumption of positive intent.
  •  Until we are proven wrong, trusting co-workers is the default means of engagement.
  •  Freedom and accountability are two sides of the same coin

An organization’s purpose and context determine the culture and a culture of TRUST is essential to productivity.

When Trust is present, the environment reflects these things:

  • The Workplace is safe and caring.
  • There is an ease and comfort with words like CARE, LOVE, SERVICE and SOUL.
  • All parts of each person are honored and polarities are balanced.
  • Problems are seen as opportunities for growth.
  • We recognize that we are deeply interconnected and we overcome the sense of
  • separation and isolation.

How to help groups gel into a safe container? What are the most effective ways deep work can happen in safe haven?

Mukara: A lot of my previous answers apply to this question. I will summarize by saying that if we assume each individual is a Living System, and if as individual Living Systems we have ‘earned secure attachment’ we will be able to participate in groups/teams/ organizations that are also Living Systems. Wholeness and Transformation becomes possible at work. Work can become the Womb that grows the new individual who cares for the Whole.

Recently a large East Coast firm contacted me to help them through a critical transition because they wanted to use Buddhist Principles to help them achieve a new level of consciousness in the whole organization. We worked intensively and very deeply for seven months and they made it through the eye of the needle. Now we are doing work to stabilize the gains and create new structures to support their new consciousness. They are very, very successful, by the way. They have made interconnected consciousness a part of their strategy for the 21st Century.

Mukara Meredith, MSW, Certified Hakomi Trainer
MatrixWorks Creator, Teacher and Trainer
Mukara Meredith, MSW, Certified Hakomi Trainer, with humor, often refers to herself as a 108-year-old Tibetan Elf. Mukara’s life’s-work has been devoted to bringing human-friendly values into businesses and organizations to ensure meaningful work, marketplace fairness and organizational success. This purpose led to the founding of MatrixWorks in 1999.As President of MatrixWorks, Mukara is committed to creating new cultures of creativity, nourishment and innovation in workplace relationships by using the power of small groups. MatrixWorks has been at the forefront of introducing cutting-edge neuroscience and brain-functioning understanding to leaders, managers and their teams so that they and teams learn to access collective intelligence and practice the skills of collaboration and connectivity. MatrixWorks has also served in the fields of education, healthcare, and therapeutic modalities such as somatic experiencing, Hakomi, and cranial therapy. MatrixWorks is taught in the USA, Brazil, Japan, Mexico and Canada. For more information about Mukara and MatrixWorks, click here.