To trust someone is to have a firm belief in their reliability, truthfulness and their ability. It is a dynamic interpersonal link between people with unique implications for organisations and its employees. It is the belief where one can rely on another person’s actions, words and that they have good intentions of sticking to their given promises. Trust is most meaningful when one party is vulnerable or at risk to another party, which makes it critical for relationships between a leader and a follower, whom have different roles, levels of status and power.
Because trust is a relational concept which occurs between different people, both the leader and follower play a crucial role in creating and sustaining a trusting relationship.
Trust, between leaders and followers, is developed through a dynamic process where each party signals to the other party that they are willing to cooperate with each other and take risks. Contrary to popular belief, it does not depend on the length of the relationship or by leaders just telling followers that they have done a good job.
Organisational ethics and culture play a major role on building trust between employees. Organisations can hinder and make it difficult to develop trusting relationships between its leaders and followers, if there is an unethical working environment or highly politicised organisations. Therefore, organisations need to build a trusting culture by creating an ethical working environment to encourage trusting relationships between all employees, leaders and followers.
When organisations are going through tough changes or delivering difficult news, it is the element of trust that can act as a crucial buffer against stress, burnout and lowered commitment to the organisation.
When monitoring is combined with openness, assessment of performance and collaborative problem solving can be highly related to trust in managers, however without these combinations it can completely undermine that trust between them or even damage it further.
Good and trustworthy leaders can demonstrate their ability through providing structure, setting a compelling direction and demonstrating relevant knowledge. Additionally, trustworthy leaders develop a perception of benevolence through coaching behaviours which foster a supportive context. and last but not least, they develop and sustain a perception of integrity through justice, accountability and acting in ways which are consistent with their values.
Good leaders learn to trust their followers, not just gain their followers trust.