Leaders' behaviors manifesting ability, integrity and benevolence play a central role in enhancing followers' trust in the leader. The current paper examines the relative impact of these leader behaviors with respect to two unexplored issues: the differences between the building and erosion of subordinates' trust in their leader, and the differences between situations in which the subordinate are highly vulnerable or less vulnerable as a result of the leader's actions. On the basis of content analysis of 988 critical incidents collected from 733 cadets in officers training courses, we compared the relative importance of the different leadership behaviors in trust-building versus trust-erosion incidents and in situations varying in their magnitude of followers' vulnerability. The findings show that behaviors reflecting leader ability and integrity were more salient in trust-erosion incidents and that behaviors reflecting leader benevolence were more salient in trust-building incidents. Greater subordinate vulnerability increased the importance of behaviors reflecting leader integrity or ability (depending on the nature of the vulnerability) compared to behaviors reflecting the leader's benevolence, and vulnerability increased the likelihood that trust would be eroded. We discuss the implications of these findings for both theory and practice.
|Original language||American English|
|Journal||The Leadership Quarterly|
|State||Published - 2007|