Adult attachment and perceived parental style may shape leadership behaviors

Rom Eldad, Joy Benatov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of both attachment and parental styles in shaping leadership behavioral patterns. Research predictions were that childhood perceived parental experiences will be associated with attachment style, and that both perceived parental and attachment styles will fulfill a significant role in shaping the individual’s leadership orientation in adulthood. Design/methodology/approach: The authors tested the research hypotheses with a field survey data from 90 supervisors belonging to diverse industrial and service organizations. During their attendance in a leadership seminar, the managers’ attachment style was assessed using the Experiences in Close Relationship Inventory. They were also asked to report on their childhood experiences using the Parenting Style Index, and to answer questions regarding their leadership behavior, using a short version of the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire. Findings: Results indicated associations between parental style, attachment style, and leadership. Specifically, parental autonomy granting was negatively associated with both attachment anxiety and avoidance. Both transformational and transactional leadership styles were positively associated with parental autonomy, but only transformational leadership was also positively associated with parental involvement. In addition, transactional leadership was positively associated with attachment avoidance in close relationships. Research limitations/implications: Testing the contributions of perceived parental style in childhood and attachment style in adulthood to the manager’s manifested leadership style helps to advance our theoretical understanding of important leadership antecedents. The findings may also help practitioners in developing leadership skills and assisting managers in finding ways to moderate their natural tendencies and better depend on, delegate, and empower subordinates. Originality/value: This empirical study provides evidence of the important role of perceived parental style in the development of adult attachment and leadership styles. The effects found in the study also extend the existing findings by showing that not only the attachment style but also parental style play a significant role in shaping the individual’s leadership behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-275
Number of pages15
JournalLeadership and Organization Development Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 29 Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Attachment
  • Leadership
  • Parental style

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Adult attachment and perceived parental style may shape leadership behaviors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this