Leaders Can Get Followers to Essay

  • Length: 10 pages
  • Sources: 8
  • Subject: Leadership
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #36448934

Excerpt from Essay :

e. job cuts, alternative pay leveling, increased productivity without increased reward.

Leadership Job Design

Leaders who are most effective at transformational leadership clearly elicit trust but they must then use all the skills they have developed to further the ideas into practice. One of the ways in which they can do this is by using the emotive and practical information they have as members of a team and as trusted and understanding employers to build job tasks that are appropriate and responsive to individual skill, ability and desires. This may mean allowing an individual to stretch and improve his or her skill level by allowing them to do a task that they previously registered a desire to learn or it may mean not giving someone more tasks when they have registered the complaint that they are feeling overworked. (Barker & Camarata 1998) Any decision must be openly seen to demonstrate that the leader has recognized and is applying the communications he or she has had with individuals on a trust-based level to job tasking. Job tasking in a trusting leadership relationship could be as simple as allowing those who will do the job significant input, i.e. ensuring empowerment, in the development of the job and then detailing that information in a de facto as well as de jure manner.

Emotional Intelligence

Butler (1991) emphasizes that the development of trust between leaders and employees is an integral part of success but most importantly this phenomena is most often achieved when there is a close respect relationship between the leader and others, and when the leader is perceived to engender understanding and empathy for the individual. Empathy is the characteristic that most often associates the effective leader with the less effective leader, as he or she is said to elicit a high level of emotional intelligence. "Charismatic leaders' empathic behavior stimulates followers' need for affiliation in several ways…it is generally known that an individual will have trust in others, to the extent that the others display strong concern for his/her interests" (Choi 2006) Emotional intelligence and the ability to either express true empathy or some perceived ideal of empathy is an essential element to gaining leadership effectiveness in any organisation.

Empathetic relationship building in the organisation between the leader and followers is marked by the individual leader knowing, remembering and reacting to issues that the individual is dealing with either in the job or outside of it. Emotions have a very big impact on how and why individuals make decisions. In a climate where individuals feel secure and are fundamentally satisfied with the climate and culture of their workplace they are much more likely to make decisions that are reflective of the goals and mission of the organisation, especially when they have the buy in of trust for the leader.

Affective and Cognitive Trust

Affective trust is the kind of trust that is associated with emotion, i.e. personal connectivity or communications between different members of the team. When these communications build upon transformational leadership skills and styles they are often based on trust and can build such trust and further it.

An affective response base of trust is consistent with the notion of conditional trust in which "sufficient positive affect and a relative lack of negative affect" (Jones and George, 1998: 536) act to reinforce the attitudes that lead to conditional trust. This base of trust is also conceptually similar to what Rousseau and her colleagues (1998) termed relational trust. Indeed, they acknowledged that because relational trust has a large emotional component, scholars often refer to this form of trust as affective trust. An element of affective response is also present in Barney and Hansen's (1994) typology of trust. The affective states experienced in dealing with a partner would certainly influence perceptions about the trustworthiness of that partner. Positive affect would serve to bolster perceptions that another partner possessed the type of character that would prevent opportunistic behavior (strong-form trust). Negative affect, on the other hand, would likely cause partners to insist on contractual safeguards (semi-strong form trust). (Morrow, Hansen, and Pearson 2004)

Affective trust is therefore the trust one has for the individuals in his or her life they feel connected with. We assume as individuals that people with a personal and emotive attachment to us a certain level of understanding of us would not do certain things to undermine us and would do other things to support or further us. When an leader exhibits the skills needed to establish affective trust certain other aspects of personal concern regarding fear and distrust will all but disappear. The limitation or recommendation of this then must be to make sure that such affective trust is not breached in some way by making decisions and leveling them that are contrary to affective trust, such as anything that can be seen as untrustworthy, i.e. disclosure of personal information, job tasking that is contrary to needs and desires and is not well explained or promoting one individual over another if there is a clear sense that the first individual is more deserving of the promotion. Affective trust can be a trap for those who are fundamentally challenged by empathy and tend not to be mindful of others needs and wants.

Cognitive trust on the other hand is based on a historical level of good decision making by leaders. We as individuals like our leaders' reputation to be a good one and the way in which one can ensure this is by making sure that most if not all of his or her decisions are perceived to be well made and if they are unclear fully explained to those involved. To ensure a sense of cognitive trust the sense of trust must be leveled from the top down with clear delegation of good decision making at every level with those closer to the bottom demonstrating through good decision making that they have good decision making skill therefore ensuring that those above them look as if they have chosen subordinate leaders wisely. (McAllister 1995) For a better understanding of how cognitive trust is measured see McAllister's five point cognitive trust measurement in appendix 1.

We Trust Those Who Trust Us

What this all basically cumulates into is the sense that followers/employees/team members will trust if they perceive they are trusted. Individuals do not have the tendency to trust someone who has a closed door, does not communicate effectively with them, does not listen to their needs and wants and apply them in any visible way, or basically does not express trust toward them. This is particularly clear when trust is broken in a work environment and leadership fails, no matter if the leadership style is transactional or transformational.

We have likely all been in a situation where our trust was broken, and in a situation where it is assumed that individual leaders will be loyal and seek your interests this breach of trust can be much harder felt, and result in much more fundamental cracks in the core. This is often why increased turnover occurs when management changes are not made within the context of an already trusting communication situation. Loyalty that is engendered by the transformational leadership style may counteract a downturn situation, but if new leaders are appointed without an appropriate transition the losses may be great, even before the new leader has the opportunity to prove his or her ability to lead in the transformational style. Trusting the leader is reciprocal, as all people have the tendency to trust and respect those who express and trust them, while they distrust anyone who does not.


This work has been an attempt to first defined the basis and importance of trust in leadership. The work then moved on to discuss and define transactional and transformational leadership. The current trend is the development of transformational leadership as transactional leadership has shown a tendency to create hierarchical closed models that do not necessarily foster trust. As trust is so essential the transformational model is favored, and can be seen as the coming trend in leadership and business model development. The reason for this need to change is then illuminated by the development of several key ideas associated with leadership including; organizational culture, empowerment, job design, leaders' emotional intelligence, the concepts of affective and cognitive trust all while making recommendations. Many of these recommendations and limitations are reflected in the literature and supported by lived experiences in organisations. Those recommendations, concerning the development of leader trust include but are not limited to the development of mindfulness for all the principles set out in this work. Accountability for the trust relationship by the leader is essential as organisations of trust to not necessarily form by accident and leaders need to be aware that emotions…

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