Attachment and Good Bosses Podcast on Radio Reflection

On June 5, 2015, “Radio Reflection” podcast host Stacie Patterson interviewed Dr. Debra Dupree on Attachment and Good Bosses. 

According to Debra Dupree, Ph.D. attachment theory has a lot to say about who will be a good boss.

Debra Dupree Discusses Attachment and Good Bosses

Good bosses are aware, is in tune with who they are as individuals, know what qualities they bring to their leadership role are in tune with those around them.  They are often described as good listeners, charismatic personable, motivational, self-aware and aware of others.  In contrast problematic supervisors are often very productive and driven to succeed.  Indeed their drive, ability to work long hours and focus on the bottom line may be the reason they are loved by corporations and their Boards of Directors.  Despite their bottom-line success bad bosses often lack “soft skills” and are considered pushy, self-centered, dismissive and someone who puts your own agenda ahead of everybody else.

Debra has learned that often good bosses were securely attached as children. However, even for people who were not securely attached or suffered trauma as children, they have the ability to develop the skills necessary to successfully lead others.  Failure to managers become good bosses may lead to burnout, lower profits and high staff turnover rates.  Leadership coaches and leadership psychotherapists can help managers increase their emotional intelligence, become more self-aware and be better bosses.

For employees who are managed by a challenging supervisor, Debra suggests asking these questions:

  • What can you do differently in order make do with the situation and improve upon the situation?
  • Why do some of these behaviors bother me?
  • What is it in my own background that is causing problems?

Debra recognizes that it is often challenging for employees to talk to their supervisors about their supervisor’s behavior but also believes that it is often worthwhile. When addressing her concerns with a supervisor, the employee may say things like:

  • When I experience this kind of behavior then this is how I’m impacted and then affects my ability to deliver what you asked me to do.
  • That affects my ability to deliver the quality of what I know you want from me.
  • How can I help you to help me to help you?
  • You are my boss. I do want to do the best I can do. But these behaviors are getting in my way.


  • Attachment and Loss by John Bowlby
  • Articles by Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver