Care to Dare

Care to Dare

Unleashing Astonishing Potential Through Secure Base Leadership

Jossey-Bass, 2012 more...

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


Business leaders should be “secure bases” for their employees – providing security and protection while challenging them to explore and take risks. Consultants George Kohlrieser, Susan Goldsworthy and Duncan Coombe urge leaders to remain calm in emotional situations, recognize others’ potential, stay positive and be accessible. The familiar theme that caring executives foster an engaged, committed workforce has been discussed in other business books. However, these authors take the concept further by adding examples of leaders who dared to make a difference and offering useful advice for developing new skills. getAbstract recommends their insights to executives, department heads, team managers and other leaders, particularly new ones.


“Secure Base Leadership”

Leaders who provide a secure base for their employees balance safety and risk. With caring, you provide comfort and security. With daring, you provide inspiration and exploration. A secure base is “a person, place, goal or object that provides a sense of protection, safety and caring and offers a source of inspiration and energy for daring, exploration, risk taking and seeking challenge.” Secure base leadership works for individual leaders, teams and organizations as a whole.

Leaders who pursue specific targets without connecting to other people emotionally can become stressed, burned out, isolated and even depressed. Leaders should not be afraid to make mistakes or to encourage people to leave their comfort zones. When leaders feel threatened physically or emotionally, they shut down, resist change and try to protect themselves, particularly if they feel they’ve been “taken hostage” by their superiors, co-workers, customers or staff. A manager who has a secure base can refocus and move from pain and loss to reward and opportunity.

The term “secure base” comes from John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth’s post-World War II research on “attachment...

About the Authors

George Kohlrieser leads the High Performance Leadership Program at the International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland. Former Olympic finalist Susan Goldsworthy owns the Goldswolf & Associates consultancy. Ashridge Business School teacher Duncan Coombe consults for the Fowler Center for Sustainable Value.

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