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Trust and authentic leadership

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As mentioned, authentic leadership relies on high trust in relationships between leader and follower.

In a Spanish study of a human resource manager’s attitudes to authentic leaders (Agote, Aramburu & Lines, 2016), the authors researched how authentic leaders influenced followers’ emotions and the role of trust in relationships.

The context of the Agote et al. study related to change, given that a change process establishes uncertainty. Thus, this kind of study may be helpful to establish empirically how leaders build and maintain trust in contexts where organisations are undergoing change. The abstract from their research paper highlights key findings:

Despite the increasing interest in emotions at work, there is still a need for more research that focus on the antecedents of emotions in organisational change contexts. Moreover, literature on the subject considers leadership and trust to be fundamental when dealing with change processes. Taking into account both ideas, it is proposed here that authentic leadership (AL) perception can influence followers’ trust and emotions during change. To test these hypotheses, we gathered and analysed the experience of 102 Spanish Human Resource Managers using structural equation modelling based on partial least squares. Findings show that AL is directly and positively related to followers’ trust in the leader and the experience of positive emotions.
Furthermore, we found that trust mediates the relation between AL perception and the experience of negative emotions. Based on these findings, some practical implications are proposed, such as the implementation of training initiatives in order to provide human resource managers with a better understanding of the AL concept and facilitate different actions that could be carried out by them so as to contribute to trust building.

(Agote et al., 2016, p. 35)

Agote et al. (2016) define authentic leaders as those with:

  • internalised moral perspectives.
  • relational transparency with followers that fosters positive self-development.

How might you use what research says about trust in addressing the transition of the relationship with people you work with from friend to leader?

Agote, L., Aramburu, N., & Lines, R. (2016). Authentic leadership perception, trust in the leader, and followers’ emotions in organisational change processes. The Journal of Applied Behavioural Science, 52(1), pp. 35–63. doi:
© University of Southern Queensland
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Transitioning From Friend To Leader

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