1 Way to Identify Attachments Impacting Your Leadership

Today, I want to share 1 way that you can identify an attachment that is impacting your leadership.

Why does this topic matter to you? The Conference Board recently released their Measure of CEO Confidence survey results. The findings showed geopolitical uncertainty to be the chief concern.

  • 51% of CEOs identified political uncertainty ahead of US elections as the greatest US challenge affecting businesses in 2024
  • 46% said the greatest global challenge affecting businesses this year is the spread of existing wars
The Conference Board Stats #1
The Conference Board Stats #2

How humans respond to uncertainty continues to be researched extensively. The abbreviated version of current findings: human responses are often not constructive. This means there is a high likelihood that you, as CEO, may respond in ways that do not support your desired results. Attachments, a state of grasping or clinging to people, objects, ideas, or causes, compromise your objectivity and degrade your decision making.

A Small Case Study

Consider the challenges facing pharmaceutical companies with operations impacted by the Israel-Hamas War. Here are just a few challenges that may shape the CEO’s thinking:

  • Immediate concerns for the safety of workforce in the region
  • Productivity impacts when employees in the region are called up for military service
  • Effects on the company’s ability to ensure an uninterrupted supply of medicines for patients in the region
  • Pressure from the board to make decisions that may damage relationships with suppliers and investors, both vital stakeholders

Now, add the growing political uncertainty in the United States to the mix. For most leaders, this is a recipe for anxiety at worst, significant discomfort at best. High-stress situations activate the body’s sympathetic nervous system. Operating in this state leads to:

  • Reactive decision making (fight, flight, or freeze)
  • Ineffective communication
  • Other behaviors that do not embody who your organization needs you to be

Meeting the Moment

Your leadership has a snowball effect on your organization.

What might “meeting the moment” – embodying the leadership this moment of uncertainty requires – look like?

It looks like you:

  • Seeing yourself clearly
  • Recognizing attachments that are influencing your decision making
  • Being more objective in your communications with your team
  • Being more objective in your leadership of your team

1 Way to Identify an Attachment

Attachments significantly impair your ability to lead with the objectivity that navigating geopolitical uncertainty requires.

Again, attachment is a state of grasping or clinging to people, objects, ideas, or causes. In the same way a baby monkey clings to its mother (see photo below), you also cling to things. Think about a time that you resisted engaging with an idea that conflicted with beliefs you already held.


Attachments can also be seen in the ways in which you relate to objects.

Have you ever lost or broken something that belonged to someone else (and had a special significance for them)? Perhaps it was an item gifted to them by a deceased family member. Or maybe it was something they bought that cannot be replaced. Regardless of the origin, the emotional response that followed your loss or destruction of said item revealed an attachment.

Attachments can surface in your leadership in a number of domains. How can you identify them?

There are 3 ways that you can identify an attachment:

  • Feelings
  • Language
  • Behavior

Today, we will focus on feelings.

Feelings: An Indicator of Attachment

Our feelings are a treasure trove of information. They offer us a picture into how we are interpreting a situation. They also offer insight into how we are relating to information, situations, etc. When you experience feelings such as anxiety, fear, jealousy, anger, sadness, or other emotions, these are an indicator that you likely have an attachment.

Let’s return to the example of the pharmaceutical CEO. As the war continues in Gaza, the CEO may find that she begins to experience increasing anxiety about the safety of her workforce and the company’s ability to ensure an uninterrupted supply of medicines for patients in the region. She leaves every conversation with the board fighting to hold back her anger. Each update she receives about statements issued by Netanyahu or Hamas raises her blood pressure. Her weekly briefings about infrastructure damage in the region and its potential impacts on the company’s operations create anxiety. Separate from the business-related impacts, she grapples with a deepening sadness that comes from witnessing the cost of war on Israelis and Palestinians living through the daily violence and destruction.

These feelings are an indicator of attachment. This awareness presents the CEO the opportunity to engage in more self-reflection. Without this awareness, she may make decisions driven by her attachments rather than objective criteria. This could result in decisions that have long-term negative impacts on organizational effectiveness, relationships with key stakeholders, and the organizational culture.

Identifying the presence of an attachment is a key first step. The next step is the work to understand the root of that attachment and where it manifests in the client’s leadership. This creates space to begin the work of practicing detachment (spoiler alert: detachment is not apathy or disengagement). This is where true transformation occurs.

Getting to know the deep inner workings of your mindset empowers you to gain greater clarity into who you are as a leader. Beginning to formulate answers to that question is powerful.

Who are you as a leader? Are you resilient? Are you courageous? Are you compassionate? These insights equip you to be a better leader of self, which translates into a better leader of others. Understanding your own unique dynamics helps you be more nuanced in your leadership of others.

I engage in this type of exploration with all of my clients. Here's just one example of the effectiveness of the bespoke coaching programs that I design for CEOs.

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“...a life-changing experience...the unique ability to provide tools and frameworks needed to help you overcome barriers and experience real breakthrough in your organization and leadership skills.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Seanicaa Edwards Herron, Freedmen Heirs Foundation, Inc.

If you’d like to learn more about how Excellence Unbounded can help you skillfully navigate uncertainty, lead confidently, and drive results, book a call. We are here to help.