Chapter 1: Three Fundamental Questions Regarding Trust in Leaders
Kurt T. Dirks Leaders play a prominent role in organizations – particularly from the point of view of followers. The formal and informal power that leaders possess puts them in a position to signiﬁcantly inﬂuence followers as they set the goals that individuals work toward, control resources they value, and make decisions that impact their compensation and careers. As a consequence, followers have signiﬁcant interest in evaluating whether or not they can trust the leader. While the recognition of the centrality of trust in leaders has long been of concern to followers, only recently has it taken on a prominent role in organizational research. This chapter examines three fundamental questions about trust in leaders: why is trust in leaders important? What factors build or undermine trust in leaders? What can leaders do to try to repair trust after it is damaged? The chapter attempts to summarize research on these three questions, including theoretical foundations and empirical evidence. It also raises some issues for future research on the three questions. The chapter is an attempt to summarize my own perspectives and research on these questions, but I also draw liberally from work of other scholars. In this chapter, I conceptualize trust as a psychological state held by the follower involving conﬁdent positive expectations about the behavior and intentions of the leader, as they relate to the follower. Theoretical perspectives Over the past four decades, trust in one’s leader(s) has been an important concept in multiple disciplines: organizational...
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