Background: Why is Genetic Alliance Interested in Attachment?
Genetic Alliance Culture
Genetic Alliance recognizes that culture is a strategic driver of organizational success. In Genetic Alliance’s drive to increase our impact, we have discovered that the core value of openness and practices associated with it transformed a traditional, nonprofit culture into a high-performance, system-changing one. Furthermore, we recognize that attachment theory offers us a comprehensive, research-oriented, evidence-based framework for describing significant aspects of what we do and to what we aspire.
Transformational Leadership Perspectives
Beginning in 2003, we committed to engage in transformational leadership practices. We assumed that the character of our leaders—CEO, Board, senior management, supervisors, and staff—would shape the character of the organization and thereby determine its impact. And we envisioned transforming every system of which we were an expression. Philosophically and practically, we decided that such transformations required beginning with ourselves, each one of us as the leader of our own life and profession. From there, we began to model such leadership and invite others in the organization and beyond to do the same. (Read more about the Genetic Alliance culture as expressed by its Council.)
The Organizational Model at Genetic Alliance
The process of openness begins at the Council level and is embraced by Sharon Terry, our CEO, as she leads the organization with it. From the initial practices of truth-telling, opening and holding space, identification, chunking, etc., we realize how true it is that Genetic Alliance is a networked system, interconnected in so many ways. And, we recognize that as we value ourselves and the organization as a network of relationships through which energy flows and impact occurs, we are transforming the systems of which we are an expression. Today, we have sustained evidence of that and are looking to extend the impact that we have in the world at every level and dimension.
Attachment, Leadership, and Organizational Development at Genetic Alliance
Attachment theory offers powerful insights into the nature of healthy relationships, which are the essence of healthy organizations. We believe that core identities are manifested in behavioral expression. Attachment theory suggests to us that it is possible to have a secure attachment identity that will manifest itself in one’s journey to becoming a secure attachment figure. Leaders, who have such an identity and systematically relate to others in their organization and beyond from that identity, create a secure attachment culture. In such a culture, individuals are empowered through the release of energy, creativity, and productivity. They experience the organization as both a safe haven and secure base from which to discover and express who they are and have been created to be. A secure attachment culture is a healing, as well as productive, culture, and attachment theory gives language and reveals practices to support such cultural, organizational, and individual expression.
The Attachment Conference: Moving Genetic Alliance to a New Level
This conference is bringing multiple streams together. World-class thinkers, practitioners, and speakers headlining the conference are sharing their latest cutting-edge research and insights with us. The EMU faculty and student body (1200+ people), who are cancelling their classes to participate in the conference along with numerous professionals (including 100+ staff from a local hospital), provide an energy-filled environment where these insights can be planted and germinated. And finally, the time and lived experience of our Genetic Alliance community mobilizing to move itself to new places gives us a focus for transformation. As these streams join their flows, we know that the core attachment questions for us to answer are: “Will I be there for myself when I need me, and therefore will I be there for others when they need me?” The profound depth that these questions take us to directly impacts who we are, how we lead, and our effect in the world. As a result, the answers that will emerge from this conference will take us to new personal, organizational, and communal levels.
Introduction to the Council of Genetic Alliance
Leadership of Genetic Alliance is manifest in many different forms throughout the organization. Within that understanding, we also are aware of the importance of the role of the Council, the governing body of Genetic Alliance. The Council fulfills all of the duties of a traditional board and goes well beyond governance. The strategic visioning that the Council provides, combined with its commitment to empowering execution of this vision, fuels the growth and development of the organization. In the following piece we delineate who we are, what we value in principle, and ways in which we engage ourselves, the organization, and the broader world. If you are interested in how we approach our responsibilities as leaders, read on.
Identity, Principles, and Practices of the Genetic Alliance Council
Genetic Alliance improves health through novel partnerships and meaningful engagement of communities and individuals. This requires that we as an organization understand what it means to transform systems, dissolve boundaries, create and sustain open space, and promote the process of openness. We understand that to transform systems, we must start with our own. Such work calls us, both personally and professionally, to explore the deepest truths about ourselves and the systems we impact.
For more, please see our council members and approach. While each of these people is personally accomplished, we recognize that the whole is greater than the parts and unanimously agree that what we’ve done together could never have been done by one or more single individuals. The synergy of bringing together highly committed and competent people who have found a unique leadership chemistry makes the Council what it is. Investing ourselves, the organization, and our community in the Attachment Conference is just one more example of how we seek out contexts for this synergy to be actualized.