The security to lead: a systematic review of leader and follower attachment styles and leader–member exchange

Fein, Erich C. and Benea, Daniela and Izadikhah, Zahra and Tziner, Aharon (2019) The security to lead: a systematic review of leader and follower attachment styles and leader–member exchange. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 29 (1). pp. 106-125. ISSN 1359-432X


Attachment styles can predict the quality of organizational relationships, particularly in reference to leader–member exchange (LMX). However, there is much work to be done in articulating and summarizing these findings and in detecting gaps in the literature. This systematic review fills a critical niche by providing a review of the attachment/LMX relationship. Using the PRISMA framework, this review integrates research on attachment styles and LMX by evaluating associations between secure, anxious, and avoidant attachment styles with LMX for leaders and followers. Across 10 studies, we review the evidence for associations between leader and follower attachment and LMX. We seek to investigate if secure attachment is associated with high-quality LMX and if insecure attachment is associated with lower quality LMX. Our review in general provides mixed support for these propositions, although the association of avoidant attachment for followers with LMX received consistent support. Furthermore, our results highlight the need to consider potential moderating and mediating factors within the attachment/LMX relationship. Based on the patterns of these relationships and the methodological gaps in the literature, we discuss the managerial implications for attachment styles in work and organizational psychology and suggest several directions for future research on the attachment–LMX relationship.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Psychology and Counselling (1 Jan 2015 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Institute for Resilient Regions - Centre for Health, Informatics and Economic Research (1 Aug 2018 - 31 Mar 2020)
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2020 01:57
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2020 03:30
Uncontrolled Keywords: Leadership; leader–member exchange; LMX; attachment theory; leader development
Fields of Research : 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170107 Industrial and Organisational Psychology
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1080/1359432X.2019.1696774

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