Josh Gibson, MD, a privately practicing psychiatrist with a focus on career psychology, has presented and published extensively on relationships in the workplace. In April of 2010, Josh Gibson, MD, presented to the Academy of Organizational and Occupational Psychiatry on attachment styles and their impact on the mental and physical well-being of employees.
Developed in the 1960s by researcher Dr. John Bowlby, attachment theory holds that an individual's early interactions with caregivers form the basis for all other interpersonal dynamics throughout the lifetime. As the child grows into an adult, he or she develops a secure, anxious, or avoidant style of attachment. These styles affect how an individual relates to colleagues, superiors, and team members.
For example, those with a secure attachment style are more likely to delegate responsibly and ask for support when necessary. Perhaps because they are able to relate in a healthy way with coworkers, they tend to feel a higher degree of satisfaction and can respond more constructively to challenges. Anxiously attached individuals, by contrast, typically present with a higher degree of job insecurity. Th ir lack of independence frequently presents as a lack of initiative in employees with leadership positions or in a preoccupation with supervisors' opinions of their work.
Employees with avoidant attachment, by contrast, tend to seek out independence often to the degree of alienation. Avoidantly attached leaders may be seen as poor delegators, while those in less advanced positions may present as mistrustful of their superiors. These individuals also frequently prioritize work over personal relationships, which can easily lead to a poor work-life balance.
Josh Gibson is a former psychiatrist who now works as an executive coach and consultant.