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Trust and Leadership Essay

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    Trust is the most essential element for successful cooperation and an effective organization. Trust is now not solely important in the workforce but also a quintessential thing in one’s personal life. It causes people to feel united as a result the cause friendships exist. Trust additionally influences investment decision selections and can affect how profitable a employer can be. The primary goal for all employers is to build trust within an organization.

    Leadership and followership are unified in an interdependent relationship exemplified by the idea of teamwork. Ethical issues are among the valuational elements essential to creating loyalty and have faith in this relationship. However, due to the fact of their need to maintain power and distance, self-serving leaders can also turn out to be detached from how their actions are perceived and reacted to by followers. This pattern can be particularly unfavorable to teamwork when leaders continue to receive disprortionate rewards regardless of their terrible performance, specially when coupled with organizational downsizing and layoffs. Implications are drawn regarding the ethics of equity, responsibility, and accountability in the workout of authority and power

    Types of Leadership

    Leadership is very general when it comes to definition. Brown & Treviño (2006) have defined the three antecedents to ethical leadership. The definition of ethical leadership by Brown (2005,120) is the best and most used in research. Brown has defined ethical leadership as a “demonstration of normatively appropriate conduct through personal actions and interpersonal relationships, and the promotion of such conduct to followers through two-way communication, reinforcement, and decision-making” (Brown 2005, 120). The definition can be recapitulated into just doing the right thing.

    The first antecedent to ethical leadership is authentic leadership which is defined as individuals who are deeply aware of how they think and behave and are perceived by others as being aware of their own and others’ values/moral perspective, knowledge, and strengths; aware of the context in which they operate; and who are confident, hopeful, optimistic, resilient, and high on moral character (Avolio, Luthans, & Walumba, 2004,pg.4). The second antecedent is spiritual leadership, which is defined as the values, attitudes, and behaviors that are necessary to intrinsically motivate one’s self and others so that they have a sense of spiritual survival through calling and membership (Fry, 2003,p.711). Finally, transformational leadership is achievement striving, carefulness, dependability, self-discipline, thoroughness, responsibility, deliberation, and persistence (Brown, M & Treviño, L, 2006).

    Authentic leadership is one of two most commonly studied regarding trust because it is described as “being your own person” (Xiong, K, 2016).The second type mostly connected with trust is transformational leadership which is summarized as individual consideration and support for the employee (Engelbrecht, A. S, 2014).

    Types of Trust

    The portrayal of trust refers to one party’s willingness to accept vulnerability to another party in the absence of the ability to control or guarantee the other party’s actions (Drescher, M. A., 2014). There are many different types of trust and many definitions. The main three types of trust are affective, cognitive and organizational. Affective trust is the emotional bond between individuals (Drescher, M. A., 2014). Cognitive trust is required in cases of imperfect knowledge (Drescher, M. A., 2014). Finally, organizational trust is defined as employees who have an increase in trust also increase work engagement (Drescher, M. A., 2014).

    Leadership and the Perception of Trust by Followers

    A study done by Engelbrecht, The Influence of Ethical leadership on Trust and Work Engagement: An Exploratory Study, was conducted in Africa in retail stores. The findings of the study emphasized the role played by ethical leadership behavior of managers in promoting work engagement through the creation of employee relationships connected by trust. The findings also showed that trust in a leader has significant positive influence on the follower’s work engagement. The structural model of the study provided an approximate account of the way in which ethical leadership influences the trust between the leader and follower as well as the work engagement of employees. The overarching substantive research hypothesis was interpreted to indicate that the structural model makes the perfect explanations of the manner in which ethical leadership influences the trust between the leader and follower as well as the work engagement of employees.

    In order to trust one another, a person needs to be willing to become vulnerable to the actions of other people, otherwise known as trust propensity (Hansen,2015).Trust is a key point when determining employee perceptions of top management’s ethicality. Leaders who inspire trust end up having better output, morale, and loyalty while a leader who is not trusted is viewed by subordinates with skepticism, frustration, and lost sales. Trust affects a leader’s impact and an organization’s final decision more than anything. One of the biggest mistakes a leader can make is to assume that others trust him simply by his or her title. Trust is not a physical asset that gets handed over when one becomes a leader, it must be earned, and it takes time.

    As a leader, one is trusted only to the degree that people believe in your ability, consistency, integrity, and commitment to deliver. One can earn trust over time, by building and maintaining relationships with others. Xiong, K (2016) explained trust in supervisor, “which is the level of trust that an employee holds towards their supervisor, and is related to a series of positive outcomes within organizations,” which has affected a stream of organizational outcomes such as employees commitment to the organization. Trust is all about relationships, and relationships are best built by establishing sincere and strong foundation. By asking questions, listening, and showing gratitude towards employees, it shows that as a leader, you care about your employees’ self-interests. It keeps away the skepticism about whether a leader really has their best interests in mind. People who show that they care and are sincere are not entitled. The relationship between a follower’s trust towards their leader and their affective commitment is moderated by their leader’s authentic leadership, such that the relationship is stronger for subordinates (Xion, K, 2016).

    Listening and really understanding what others have to say before giving advice or providing direction makes a huge difference in results. It was found that more leaders act in ways followers feel is appropriate ethical leadership behavior and the more a leader does this, the more they will be trusted (Karin, L., Frederique, S. (2014)). The primary tasks of a leader is to understand both motives and resistances to change, and to establish operating principles that build trust, facilitate cooperation, and explain the significance of the individuals in the common purpose (Yi Feng, Y, 2016). What brings out the worst in employees is a “sense of powerlessness due to the size of the workplace and anonymous authority that treats everyone like part of a large machinery” (Yi Feng, Y,2016). Many times, leaders use a reward system in order to motivate and give reasons to why an employee should do well and trust their leader. This can change the perspective of employees who have had previous negative experiences in other organizations. Organizational change is the question of whether “people generally have the inclination to trust or distrust based on life experience” (Yi Feng, Y, 2016).

    Employees like being able to have the opportunity to improve themselves rather than being told they are not good enough for new roles and responsibilities or are not living up to expectations. It is difficult as a leader to make the decision of informing their employees of the truth or to hold back certain truths in order to avoid upsetting or losing great employees. Many leaders are placed into difficult situations because they want to protect themselves while trying to keep the trust and loyalty of their subordinates. Platow, M. J.,Haslam, S, A., Reicher, S. D., & Steffens, N, K. (2015) researched that leadership is not about individuals who occupy roles, but more about group process more broadly. The service industry depends on relational trust, “trust based on affective factors that produce favorable impressions, while the manufacturing companies depend on institutional trust, trust that can be counted” (Ming Jian, S., 2007). Job derived trust is also higher in the manufacturing industry (Ming Jian, S., 2007). If there are no followers, this signifies that there is no leadership. It is completely natural for a group to have a person come out and lead the way for improvement. A leader of a group is supposed to “influence others in a manner that enhances their contributions to the realization of group goals” (Platow, M. J.,Haslam, S, A., Reicher, S. D., & Steffens, N, K. (2015).


    Trust can’t be built overnight. It requires time, effort, and character. Inspiring trust is not very easy to fake. Trust is very fragile. It is easy to break and to lose, and the absolute hardest to ever get back. Once trust is established between a follower and a leader, one is able to make risks and work together. This is usually true but sometimes there is a possibility of cultural bias. If organizations do not work to keep their values, trust will break down. It is the most crucial factor in working towards success. Employees who trust their leader are encouraged to succeed and perform well. Leaders who commit to investing into relationships with employees are returned with trust. Leadership roles are so difficult to enact because leaders need to provide employees with a clear understanding of an organization’s future direction.

    Future Research

    There is still not enough research on the subject of leadership and trust because it is so complex. Many authors have skimmed over or have altered the definition of the different types of trust. Many countries have different cultures and results could differ depending on the country. From the twelve articles, the main countries used were the United States, China, Vietnam, and westernized areas of Africa. Future studies should develop the research further by identifying other variables that influence work engagement. Studies should also take more time to involve themselves in their studies instead of setting a certain time frame. A recommendation would also be to include motives that show why employees should care about how their leaders treat them which include self-interest, group value, and moral reasons of why. Lastly, how different leadership styles affect employee trust.


    The findings emphasized the role played by ethical leadership behavior of managers in promoting work engagement through the creation of employee relationships connected by trust. Many of the researchers used surveys for their findings. Using a math based system in order to measure the relationship between leadership and trust from the perspective of an employee is not possible because the employee will always choose an answer that will seem beneficial.


    Since trusting someone is so internal, there is no actual way to measure it or define every type of trust. It is similar with the subject of leadership; there are just so many types of leadership. A limitation in Karin, L.’s (2014) research study was that trust was defined very loosely. Everyone is different and their willingness to allow themselves to be vulnerable to others differs as well. Past experiences usually determine why a person could be reluctant to trust someone or could be completely open to trust. Some findings showed that the research was guided by an interest in employees’ perceptions of the leader and how it is related to their own outcomes. Multiple sources of data such as leaders’ self-assessment of their own ethical leadership and peer rating can be considered in the future for research (Englebrecht, 2014). Many studies also did not include an in-depth investigation of the strength of the factors it explored.


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