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Are you a Secure Base?

Your leadership makes a difference in reorganisations. Especially in a crisis, in uncertain, stressful situations, your people need your care and attention. No matter how self-managing your team is. More often than you probably think, your people are seeking a listening ear, empathy, wanting to share their story, their concerns, their doubts, powerlessness, anger, sadness. They hope you can be 'Caring'.

But actually, they are also looking for challenge and encouragement. To take control of challenging situations or an, often still uncertain, future. You also have to be 'Daring' for them. You have to unite 2 opposites in yourself, as it were…

Being Caring AND Daring is not self-evident.

A 'Secure Base' is a person (place or object) that provides a sense of security, care and protection. Which we perceive as 'Caring'. At the same time, that person must also be 'Daring': challenging and inspiring us to explore, to dare to take risks and to explore our limits. Leaders should be both of these for their people, especially in the face of major change. (Kohlrieser, G., Laat je niet gijzelen, )

We are either good at one or the other, but finding the right balance between the two is often difficult. Practising better listening, being empathetic, and dealing with emotions and conflict is definitely worthwhile. But it starts with being more aware of your deeply held beliefs. What are your, unconscious, assumptions about dealing with uncertainty, about dealing with change? About dealing with headwinds? About dealing with loss and failure? Not obvious themes, but ones that play a major role in organisations undergoing continuous change.

So finding more balance in Caring as well as being Daring starts with listening to your own wisdom and experience. How were you raised in this regard? What did you experience and take away? That strongly determines how you handle things today.

Secure Base is rooted in our youth

What you were given and taught in your upbringing is reflected in your leadership. And, frankly, I have spent a large chunk of my life resisting this inconvenient truth. At the start of my career, I received the awkward feedback that my style of leadership and advising was too persuasive. At home, I often had to fight to get something done. I did so with fervour, and fortunately it did occasionally deliver. But the 'Caring' side was often missing from my home. Thus, it became my unconscious belief that fighting was the only way to achieve anything

Fortunately, I have been able to change this (although it still rears its head sometimes, if I am honest). I now find it the most beautiful challenge to help people find their truth themselves through my coaching. So change is indeed possible, otherwise I would not believe in my job. But you need to become aware of your patterns and seek help to grow into them step by step. And have a sustained focus on that.

An example situation

Your team is going through a major reorganisation, which is not obvious to many people. You hear people complain about management, worry about the future, some are less motivated and sometimes quite emotional.

Now suppose that you are used to the idea that hard work is normal and pays off and that you shouldn't complain but just get on with it (which, of course, is totally fine, as long as it is sufficiently balanced!).

There is then a very good chance that your reaction is mainly 'Daring': you urge your people to make the best of it, to keep at it, not to make a big deal out of things, to see new opportunities, … Most likely, you are a lot less 'Caring': you have less patience, empathy, attention and time for your team. You think that they are quick to complain.

Now you might say: okay, but we’re not here to chat, are we? Totally agree! But it's all about the right balance. If you are mostly Daring, your team will be left out in the cold. And that is not without consequences.

If your team feels inadequately heard, it may start reacting cynically or contrarily. You then tend to encounter resistance really quickly. It may also be that other team members take the rescuer role towards their team members, for example by taking over work when someone is struggling. As a result, such a rescuer sometimes takes on too much and is left out in the cold themselves. Finally, emotions can also stay 'underground’, which means that on the surface, everything seems to be going well, until suddenly people stay home sick.

What were you taught at home?

How Secure Based were you raised? How 'safe' was it at your home? Was there an eye and ear for your feelings and needs? Were you heard and taken seriously? Were you allowed to sometimes feel insecure and find it difficult? Were you challenged and confirmed in your own initiative? Were you given the space to find your own way? Or were there taboos?

By the way, and to be clear, I don't think the ideal upbringing exists. This is precisely why it is so important to realise where you may have missed something, or what you have been given too much of? So that you can make more of your own, conscious choices and help others do the same. By being both Caring and Daring.

Want to know more about your drives and (unconscious) preferences?

Contact me for a free intake or join a Learning Circle, where you will grow with other committed leaders to become the Secure Base you want to be!


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