A field study of 209 leader-follower dyads was conducted to examine
the role of trust within the transformational leadership paradigm.
Specifically, the goal was to answer the question, "Is trust simply
an outcome of transformational leadership or does it serve a more
complex role as a moderator or a mediator?" Results from the
analysis using a bootstrapping technique with structural equation
modeling revealed no support for the role of trust as a moderator of the
relationship between transformational leadership and a variety of
follower outcomes. However, trust fully mediated the relationships
between transformational leadership behavior and organizational
citizenship behavior, performance, and affective commitment.
An examination of the leadership literature reveals that trust has
been more frequently cited in discussions of transformational leadership
than any other leadership theory (Dirks and Ferrin, 2002). Research
described in a number of articles has examined the relationship between
transformational leadership and trust (Bass, 1985; Bass and Avolio,
1994; Dirks and Ferrin, 2002; Jung and Avolio, 2000; Podsakoff et al.,
1996; Podsakoff et al., 1990) identifying trust as an outcome (or
correlate) among other outcomes of transformational leadership (e.g.,
Avolio et al., 2004). Other research suggested a more complex role for
trust within the transformational leadership paradigm. Some have viewed
trust as a moderator within the context of situational influences in the
transformational leadership paradigm (e.g., Neeraj, 2009). Yet others
have viewed trust as a mediator of the relationship between
transformational leadership and other outcomes (e.g., Jung and Avolio,
2000). If trust acts as a moderator of the relationships between
transformational leadership and follower attitudes and behaviors, then
the full potential of transformational leadership may not be realized if
trust is absent. On the other hand, if trust acts as a mediator in these
relationships, then it may not only be a direct outcome of
transformational leadership, but it also may explain how or why
transformational leadership relates to other outcomes as well. The
purpose of this research is to conduct an empirical analysis of the role
of trust in the transformational leadership paradigm. Relevant research
is reviewed in the discussion that follows; the proposed hypotheses are
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF TRUST IN THE LEADER-FOLLOWER RELATIONSHIP
Clear implications for the effect of trust in leadership on
follower behavior have been emphasized in publications in the popular
management press (Kouzes and Posner, 2008; Covey, 1990; Covey, 2008;
Galford and Drapeau, 2003 a, b) and in scholarly research articles
(e.g., Mulder, 2009; Colquitt et al., 2007). Trust is not only important
for sustaining individual and organizational effectiveness (McAllister,
1995), but it also lies at the heart of relationships and influences the
behavior of each part',' toward the other (Robinson, 1996).
The leader-follower relationship is no exception. When subordinates
trust a leader, they are willing to be exposed to the leader's
actions, and are certain that their interests will not be abused (Mayer
et al., 1995). If this trust is broken, it can have severe undesirable
effects (Dirks and Ferrin, 2002).
In the process of motivating followers to implement their shared
vision, transformational leaders become role models for their followers
demonstrating what it means to persevere and make self-sacrifices when
needed (Jung and Avolio, 2000). Through observation of their leaders,
followers develop trust in them because of their leaders' personal
commitment to achieving the vision. Furthermore, transformational
leaders empower and encourage followers to think for themselves, which
instills trust in the leader (Bass and Avolio, 1995). On the flip side,
transformational leadership can involve moving followers from the
familiar to the unfamiliar. Followers may experience higher levels of
fear, anxiety, frustration, and uncertainty; all of which can be
alleviated by the trust they have in their leaders (Kotter, 1996).
Interpersonal trust can be described as an expectancy held by an
individual that another individual can be relied upon (Rotter, 1967).
There are two types of interpersonal trust--cognition-based trust and
affective-based trust (McAllister, 1995). Cognition-based trust comes
from knowledge of an individual that provides evidence of
trustworthiness. Affective-based trust comes from the emotional bonds
between individuals. Followers of transformational leaders are likely to
have both types of trust in their leaders because of the role-modeling
they have observed in their leaders and the interpersonal ties that
develop between them.
The benefits from trust ira the leader-follower relationship are
significant, and trusted leaders have a potential advantage over leaders
who are not trusted by their followers (Covey, 1990). Galford and
Drapeau (2003a, b) discuss the importance of interpersonal trust as a
reciprocal process between leaders and followers. Covey (2008) states
that when this trust is absent, relationships and organizations pay a
"trust tax" due to a lack of candor, hidden agendas, and
dysfunctional organizational politics. On the other hand, when followers
trust their leaders, they may exhibit more organizational citizenship
behaviors that better equip the leader to accomplish the goals of the
organization (McAllister, 1995; Colquitt et al., 2007). Followers'
trust in the leader may boost their confidence in the character of the
leader, thus encouraging them to reciprocate with care and concern for
their leaders (Dirks and Ferrin, 2002). When followers trust their
leaders, they perform better and exhibit less counterproductive behavior
that may come from their intentions to quit (Colquitt et al., 2007).
The review of the literature that identifies the significance of
trust in the leaderfollower relationship suggests that it is a key
component of the transformational leadership paradigm. In the paragraphs
that follow, the specific focus will be on how trust has been examined
in its relationship with transformational leadership.
THE DIRECT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP AND
Transformational leadership is theorized to inspire followers to
performance beyond expectations by encouraging followers to transcend
their own self-interests, raising their level of consciousness
concerning outcomes, and by raising or expanding follower needs levels
(Bass, 1985). This move to higher performance is accomplished through
the use of: (a) inspirational motivation, which is the ability to
articulate an appealing, inspiring vision to followers through the
communication of high expectations; (b) idealized influence, or
charisma, which causes followers to identify with their leaders, admire
them, and appeal to their leaders on an emotional level; (c)
intellectual stimulation, which stimulates innovation and creativity
while challenging the followers' beliefs, encouraging dissent, and
questioning assumptions; and (d) individualized consideration, a
behavior focused on attending to the needs of followers. These behaviors
have been linked to a number of positive outcomes including
satisfaction, productivity, and motivation (Bass, 1990).
Several studies have examined trust as an outcome (or correlate) of
transformational leadership among other individual and organizational
outcomes. Podsakoff et al. (1990) found that intellectual stimulation
was negatively associated with a measure of trust that assessed how
fairly followers felt they were treated by their managers. Because
intellectual stimulation involves challenging the assumptions that
support the status quo, they suggested this result may be due to the
association between intellectual stimulation and higher levels of role
ambiguity, conflict, and stress in the workplace; however, this
relationship may be unique to the short-term, becoming positive in the
long-term. Relationships between other dimensions of transformational
leadership and trust were positive. Gillespie and Mann (2004) computed
an aggregate index of trust from scores on measures of cognitive trust
(Butler, 1991), affective trust (derived from McAllister, 1995), and
behavioral trust (constructed using Zand's 1972 reciprocal model of
trust) because of high intercorrelations. They found that all components
of transformational leadership were positively correlated with trust
although the correlation for intellectual stimulation was lower than the
Podsakoff et al. (1996) assessed trust by asking followers how
fairly they felt they were treated by their managers. They found that
when leaders provided an appropriate model, individualized support, and
fostered acceptance of group goals (all aspects of transformational
leadership), employee trust was higher. They also found, however, that
trust was associated with the greatest number of moderating effects
(using the substitutes for leadership model; Kerr and Jermier, 1978)
more than other outcomes of transformational leadership.
In a meta-analysis to summarize and evaluate primary relationships
between trust in leadership and 23 constructs, Dirks and Ferrin (2002)
found a strong correlation (0.72) between transformational leadership
and trust. They suggest that the distinction between transformational
leadership and trust is unclear and should be examined further,
particularly focusing on measurement issues and on causal processes
involved. However, Dirks and Ferrin (2002) also found that trust was
strongly related to attitudes (e.g., job satisfaction and organizational
commitment), followed by citizenship behaviors, and finally job
performance. These results are similar to those obtained for
transformational leadership and attitudes [satisfaction with the leader
(Bycio et al., 1995; Podsakoff et al., 1990); employees' affective
commitment to the organization (Bycio et al., 1995; Whittington et al.,
2004)], organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs; Whittington et al.,
2004), and job performance (Bass, 1985; Bass and Avolio, 1994; Hater and
Bass, 1988; Keller, 1992; Yammarino and Bass, 1990; Howell and Avolio,
1993; Whittington et al., 2004). Taken together, results in these
research studies suggest that the nomological network including both
trust and transformational leadership needs examination to clarify the
appropriate relationships between these constructs and those outcomes to
which both have been linked. Because both transformational leadership
and trust have similar relationships to a variety of outcomes, yet they
also have a strong relationship with each other, a potential
clarification of the network of relationships may be obtained by
examining trust as a mediator.
TRUST AS A MEDIATOR
Trust has often been examined as a mediator in relationships
between transformational leadership and leader, follower, and/or
organizational outcomes. Avolio (1999) has claimed that the effect of
transformational leadership on employee outcomes such as performance and
commitment is an indirect rather than a direct effect. In addition, Yukl
(1989) and Covey (1990) have both suggested that it is the trust that is
engendered by transformational leaders that creates the heightened
levels of commitment and performance associated with transformational
leadership. Yuk (1989) suggests that followers may be motivated by
transformational leaders to perform beyond expectations because
followers trust and respect them. Podsakoff et al. (1990) consider
follower trust in the leader to be one of the most important variables
that can mediate the effectiveness of transformational leadership. As a
mediator, trust is a direct outcome of transformational leadership
behavior, but it also explains how or why other outcomes occur when
leaders are transformational (Frazier et al., 2004). With partial
mediation, there are other mechanisms involved in the understanding of
how or why the outcomes occur; whereas, with full mediation, the
mediator is the sole mechanism through which they occur. If trust does
fully mediate transformational-outcome relationships, its role becomes
very significant in this framework.
Research provides a number of results supporting trust as a
mediator. Pillai et al. (1999) find trust to be a key mediator of the
relationship between transformational leadership and organizational
citizenship behaviors (OCBs). MacKenzie et al. (2001) also find trust to
mediate the relationship between transformational leadership and OCBs.
Jung and Avolio (2000) provide evidence for trust as a mediator of the
relationship between transformational leadership and followers'
performance. In research by Pillai et al. (2003), trust also mediates
the relationship between transformational leadership and voting in the
2000 U. S. presidential election. The authors conclude that voters who
rate their candidates as transformational trust in them, which
influences their decision to vote for them. Furthermore, Farrell et al.
(2004) find that when CEOs exhibit transformational leadership, their
top management team trusts them more, and this leads to the ability to
combine and exchange information (i.e., the top management team exhibits
the ability to acquire, integrate, and exploit new knowledge). Finally,
Connell et al. (2003) provide positive support for trust as a mediator
of the relationship between transformational leadership and turnover
intention, affective commitment, and continuance commitment. Although
there is evidence for trust as a mediator in the transformational
leadership paradigm, another possible function for trust is that of a
moderator. As a moderator, trust would clarify conditions under which
relationships between transformational leadership and other outcomes
TRUST AS A MODERATOR
Trust has been proposed as a potential moderator in the
transformational leadership paradigm (Bass, 1985; Bass and Avolio,
1994). The level of trust in the leader may explain conditions under
which transformational leadership is judged to be effective or not. That
is, trust, as a moderator, would clarify the boundaries within which the
relationships between transformational leadership and outcomes occur.
In recent research, Neeraj (2009) examined the moderating effect of
trust on the relationship between transformational leadership and job
satisfaction. He found that when employees had high levels of trust in
their leaders, the relationship between transformational leadership and
job satisfaction was stronger than with lower levels of trust. Thus,
high trust enhanced this relationship, providing an additional boost to
the positive relationship expected between transformational leadership
and job attitudes. Although there is substantially less empirical work
on the role of trust as a moderator in the transformational leadership
paradigm, it may be worth investigating further particularly within the
context of the current interest in pseudo-transformational leadership.
Research in pseudo-transformational leadership (see Bass and
Steidlmeier, 1999; Nichols, 2008) suggests leaders may appear to be
transformational when they are not. Their motives are not pure and their
ethics are questionable, but they understand the value of behaving as
transformational leaders. To the degree followers are aware of their
charade, these leaders may not be trusted. Therefore, it is possible
that these pseudo-transformational leaders, while exhibiting
transformational behaviors, may not produce positive outcomes because of
This review of the literature supports the need to clarify the role
of trust in the transformational leadership paradigm. The intention of
this research is to examine competing theoretical models of trust
relative to transformational leadership to produce an empirically
derived answer to this question. With the interest in transformational
leadership over the last 35 years, it is incumbent upon researchers to
identify any qualifications for relationships between transformational
leadership behavior and other variables just as has been done for other
leadership styles (e.g., Fiedler, 1967; House, 1971).
Based upon the discussion above, two alternative hypotheses are
proposed that are developed to identify the best explanation for the
role of trust in the transformational leadership paradigm. This study
allows the examination of both hypotheses within a single context
considering trust as a mediator versus trust as a moderator between
transformational leadership and individual outcomes commonly examined in
their relationships with transformational leadership. Previous research
consistently reports significant relationships between transformational
leadership and performance and attitudinal outcomes (Bass, 1985;
Yammarino and Bass, 1990; Keller, 1992; Howell and Avolio, 1993; Bass
and Avolio, 1994; Hater and Bass, 1988; Bycio et al., 1995; Whittington
et al., 2004). Not only has transformational leadership repeatedly been
associated with inrole performance, it also has long been associated
with "performance beyond expectations," best captured by the
extra-role behaviors associated with the organizational citizenship
behavior construct (OCB, Organ, 1988). Transformational leadership also
has been shown to consistently relate to positive emotional reactions as
captured by the affective commitment construct (Allen and Meyer, 1990).
As these relationships are well-established, they are examined in this
research with the inclusion of trust. Analyses of these hypotheses allow
for the examination of the direct relationship between transformational
leadership and trust. However, if trust mediates or moderates
relationships between transformational leadership and these outcomes
that are consistently associated with it, then trust takes on a
different role in the transformational paradigm than these other
H1: Trust is a moderator of the relationship between
transformational leadership behavior and the outcomes of follower
organizational citizenship behavior, affective commitment, and
H2: Trust is a mediator of the relationship between
transformational leadership behavior and the outcomes of follower
organizational citizenship behavior, affective commitment, and
The sample was obtained from organizations with which one of the
investigators had done extensive consulting. Subjects were from twelve
different organizations representing a variety of industries (e.g.,
manufacturing, government agencies and departments, and health care),
departments (e.g., production, accounting, and personnel), and position
levels (ranging from first-line supervisors to company president). No
assumptions were made relative to their leadership skills; rather they
were chosen for participation in the study as "leaders" based
on their formal positions.
One hundred out of 140 managers completed the required
questionnaires (71% response rate). Each manager provided a list of up
to ten direct report subordinates, from which three were randomly
selected. From the 420 subordinates selected, 209 participated (50%
response rate). The average number of subordinates per manager was 2.10.
Performance for the 82 subordinates who did not respond to the
questionnaires was compared to those who participated. No significant
differences were found between groups. The majority of managers were
white (87.7 %) and male (70.9 %), with an average tenure in their
organization of 10.5 years. Twenty-five percent of the managers were
firstline supervisors, 50% were second-line managers, and 24.7 % were
third-line managers or above. The majority of subordinates were white
(81.4 %) and male (65.7 %), with an average tenure in their organization
of 7.8 years, and with their present managers of 2.5 years. Forty-nine
percent of the subordinates did not hold supervisory, positions, 31.2%
were first-line supervisors, and 17.3% worked at the second level of
management or higher.
The managers received a packet containing an evaluation form to
assess each subordinate's performance and organizational
citizenship behavior, and a demographic questionnaire. The subordinates
were given packets containing a social-report instrument for evaluating
their manager's leadership style, their level of trust in their
manager, their affective organizational commitment, and a demographic
questionnaire. Both managers and subordinates received detailed
instructions for completing the instruments, and a postage-paid envelope
for returning the completed survey to the researchers. Each survey was
coded to allow matching of manager and subordinate responses, resulting
in 209 dyads that were used in the analyses.
Transformational leader behavior was assessed by subordinates'
responses to the subscales in the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire
(MLQ-5X; Bass and Avolio, 1994). Item responses for each subscale
ranging from 1 (not at all) to 5 (frequently) were averaged to obtain a
total score ([alpha] = 0.88, 0.90, 0.89, and 0.91 for ascribed charisma,
inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized
Because the hypotheses did not differentiate among the
transformational leadership subscales individually, the data were
submitted to confirmatory factor analysis to validate a single, global
scale. The results from the confirmatory factor analysis strongly
supported the expectations. The model chi-square was not significant
([chi square] = 0.99, p = 0.61), and the fit statistics suggested a
well-fit model (goodness-of-fit index = 0.996; adjusted goodness-of-fit
index = 0.979; comparative fit index = 1.00; residual mean square error
of approximation = 0.00). Accordingly, besides those relationships
previously defined for the model, there was no indication of the need to
designate relationships among the latent scale variables, among the
latent variables and other manifest scale scores, among the latent
variable error variances, or among the manifest variable error
variances. Based on these factor analytic results, the scale reliability
estimates, and previous theoretical development and studies validating
the transformational leadership construct dimensionality and subscales,
it was concluded that the items used in the study measured a single,
global construct having four dimensions that were captured with the
subscales of the MLQ. In further analysis, a single scale was used to
represent transformational leadership ([alpha] = 0.97). The scale was
formed by calculating the factor scores of the first principal component
of a factor analysis of the four subscale scores, which yielded only one
factor with an eigenvalue greater than one (eigenvalue = 3.42; percent
of variance = 85.61).
Interpersonal trust was measured using subordinate responses to an
eight-item scale consisting of two items modified from Earley (1986) and
six items from a scale developed by Podsakoff and associates (Podsakoff
et al., 1990). The items from Earley (1986) are "I place a great
deal of trust in my manager" and "I am willing to rely on my
manager." The items from the Podsakoff et al. (1990) scale included
items such as "I feel quite confident that my leader will always
treat me fairly." This measure of interpersonal trust was chosen
because the focus was on the relationship between the leader and
follower and how the follower's trust in the leader might relate to
the transformational leadership-outcome relationship. Each of the items
in the scale was measured on a seven-point scale ranging from 1
(Strongly Disagree) to 7 (Strongly Agree). A total score for trust was
derived by averaging across the eight items. Coefficient alpha for trust
To establish that the measure of transformational leadership was
sufficiently differentiated from the measure of trust, a confirmatory
factor analysis (CFA) was conducted to compare a one-factor to a
two-factor latent variable model. The transformational leadership latent
variable was constructed as described previously, and the trust variable
was constructed as a single latent variable with eight manifest
variables. In the first step, a CFA model was calculated with two latent
variables. In the second step, a CFA model was calculated with a single,
global latent variable. The change in chi-square and fit statistics was
examined for an improvement in the two-factor relative to the one-factor
model. The results demonstrated that a two-factor model was a
statistically significant improvement over a one factor model according
to the change in chi-square ([DELTA][[chi square].sub.(1)]= 169.59,
p<0.01; [DELTA][GFI=0.20; [DELTA][CFI=0.10; [DELTA][RMSEA=0.08).
Affective organizational commitment was measured using subordinate
responses to the eight-item affective commitment dimension in the
organizational commitment scale developed by Allen and Meyer (1990).
Each item was measured on a seven-point Likert scale ranging from 1
(Strongly Disagree) to 7 (Strongly Agree) ([alpha] = 0.83).
Manager evaluations of subordinates' organizational
citizenship behavior (OCB) were obtained from a 24-item social report
scale adapted from Podsakoff et al. (1990), which measures five facets
of OCB (Organ, 1988). Each of these items was measured using a
seven-point Likert scale ranging from (1) Strongly Disagree to (7)
Strongly Agree. Because responses to this scale did not meet the
response distribution assumption for confirmatory factor analysis (i.e.,
they were not normally distributed), an exploratory factor analysis was
conducted, which yielded only one factor with an eigenvalue greater than
one. Therefore, total score measures were used in the analysis, and were
obtained by averaging responses across all items ([alpha] = 0.95).
Subordinate performance was measured using a fixed-sum-weighted,
Likert-type interval scale on three dimensions: quality of work,
quantity of work, and promotability to the next level. For each of the
items, managers were asked to indicate the percentage of time the
subordinate's performance fell into one of four categories
(Category 1--"Unsatisfactory: Needs to improve substantially;"
Category 2--"Questionable: Needs some improvement;" Category
3--"Satisfactory: Meets normal expectations;" Category
4--"Outstanding: Substantially exceeds normal performance)."
Category 1 was coded as 0, Category 2 as 1, Category 3 as 2, and
Category 4 as 3, weighting each category by the percent of time reported
by the manager (accounting for 100% of the subordinate's
performance time). The resulting score for the employee on each
dimension was the weighted average category level. Although this
procedure is cognitively more difficult for managers to use, it forces
them to explicitly assess the amount of time that the employee's
performance falls into each category, and reduces the likelihood of
leniency and halo rating errors (Bernardin, 1978). A statistical
advantage of using a fixed-sum-weighted, Likert-type interval scale is
that it produces a weighted average for each subject, and, consequently,
is a continuous, rather than discrete, measure. Because the three
dimensions are scored independently, the dimension scores can be
evaluated for internal reliability using common indices, like
Cronbach's alpha, and the dimension scores can be summed to an
overall scale score. Summing the weighted evaluations of the three
performance dimensions created a composite score for performance
([alpha] = 0.92).
The analysis proceeded in three steps. First, prior to the analysis
of the hypotheses, the question of whether the effects of supervisors
who reported for multiple subordinates (i.e., aggregate within
supervisor) should be fixed was examined. Second, to test the moderation
hypotheses, a structural equations path analysis composed of main and
interaction variables was constructed. An examination of whether trust
moderated the relationship between transformational leadership and the
outcome variables was conducted by testing the change in chi-square
between an unconstrained model including the interaction term and a
constrained model omitting the interaction variable. Third, the
mediation hypotheses regarding whether trust mediated the effect of
transformational leadership behaviors on the outcome variables were
tested using the path analysis. Tests were calculated by applying a
bootstrapping procedure to estimate direct and indirect effects along
with their associated standard errors and significance levels (Efron and
Gong, 1983; Efron and Tibshirani, 1993).
Because 31% of the supervisors reported performance and
organizational citizenship behaviors for more than one subordinate (mean
= 1.35), Hausman tests (Hausman, 1978) were completed for each of the
three outcome variables. A Hausman test addresses the question of
whether there is a group level systematic effect, which determines
whether a regression should be estimated as a fixed or random effects
model. In this case, an examination was conducted to determine whether
there was a need to control for supervisor means. The results showed
that each test for the three outcome variables yielded a p-value greater
than 0.05; therefore, a random effects regression without dummy
variables to fix effects by supervisor was used.
Prior to testing specific hypotheses, the descriptive statistics
and correlations were examined (see Table 1). It was found that trust
correlated positively with transformational leadership behaviors, and
both of them correlated with each of the outcome variables as expected.
It also was observed that organizational citizenship behavior ratings
correlated strongly with performance ratings (r = 0.70, p < 0.01)
potentially in part because they both were collected from the
supervisor, and the interaction variable correlated strongly with trust
(r = -0.51, p < 0.01) and moderately with transformational leadership
(r=-0.36, p<0.01) due to the variable construction. Consequently,
covariances were estimated in the path analysis for these variables.
Hypothesis 1. To prepare the data for testing the moderating
hypotheses, the process described by Aiken and West (1991) for centering
data to mitigate the effect of collinearity of main effect variables
with interaction terms was used. The data were centered by creating
standardized z-scores for both the independent and dependent variables.
Accordingly, the results were interpreted as standard deviation changes
or standardized regression coefficients. An interaction variable also
was created by multiplying the standardized scores for the trust
variable with the transformational leadership behavior variable.
To examine the moderating relationship hypothesis, a nested testing
procedure was employed. First a structural path model including both the
main effect and interaction term was conducted. A chi-square statistic
for the path model was calculated and acceptable fit statistics were
found ([[chi square].sub.(2)] 0.38, p > 0.83; GFI = 1.00; CFI = 1.00;
RMSEA = 0). Then the analysis for a constrained model was repeated by
specifying the interaction variable path coefficients to equal zero. The
change in [chi square] was examined to determine whether there was a
significant change in fit of the model to the data, and it was found
that there was not ([[chi square].sub.(3)] = 5.48, n.s.; [DELTA]GFI =
0.01; [DELTA]CFI = 0; [DELTA]RMSEA = 0.04). In corroboration of this
conclusion, it also was observed that no path coefficient in the
unconstrained model showed significance for the interaction variables.
Based on these results, it was concluded that there was no evidence of a
moderating role for trust in the relationship between transformational
leadership and each of the outcome variables; thus, there was no support
for Hypothesis 1.
Hypothesis 2. To test whether trust mediated the relationship
between transformational leadership behaviors and the outcome variables,
direct and indirect coefficients from the previously described
constrained path model were examined, and bias corrected standard errors
and significance tests were produced using bootstrapping (Efron and
Gong, 1983; Efron and Tibshirani, 1993), which has been recommended as a
preferred alternative to traditional hierarchical regression testing for
mediation (Mallinckrodt et al., 2006; Shrout and Bolger, 2002). The
bootstrap results were generated using a sample of 10,000 from which
standard errors were estimated in order to calculate bias-corrected
confidence intervals and test the direct and indirect effects. The
results for the mediation-only constrained path analysis are provided in
Table 2 and Figure 1.
The resulting path model indicated that transformational leadership
was significantly related to trust (b=0.77, p<0.001), but was not
significantly directly related to any of the outcome variables (all
p>0.05). Transformational leadership, however, was found to be
indirectly related, and fully mediated by trust, in its relationship to
each of the outcome variables ([b.sub.(OCB)]=0.43, p<0.01;
[b.sub.(performance)] = 0.42, 7=0.42, p<0.01; [b(.sub.effective
commitment) = 0.25, p<0.05). Based on what was observed in the
analysis, the mediation hypothesis was fully supported by the data.
Therefore, trust is not simply an outcome of transformational
leadership, but is the basis for its influence on these individual level
outcomes when all are considered within the same paradigm.
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
The purpose of this study was to discern the role of trust in the
transformational leadership paradigm, including the examination of three
follower outcome variables. The results extended previous research on
transformational leadership and trust. First, no support was found for
the role of trust as a moderator of the relationship between
transformational leadership and follower outcomes. Second, the results
of the regression analyses used in this study supported past research
that examined trust as a mediator in relationships between
transformational leadership and various outcome variables (e.g.,
Podsakoff et al., 1990; Pillai et al., 1999; Jung and Avolio, 2000;
MacKenzie et al., 2001; Connell et al., 2003). Specifically, trust was
found to fully mediate the relationships between transformational
leadership behavior and organizational citizenship behavior,
performance, and affective commitment.
Although trust is clearly positively related to transformational
leadership and could be considered as simply another outcome of it,
results from this research suggest a more significant role for trust in
the transformational framework. Transformational leaders are, first of
all, trusted by their subordinates, who in turn display positive job
attitudes as well as positive intra- and extra-role performance. The
results support Avolio's (1999) contention that the impact of
transformational leadership on followers is not direct. Furthermore,
that trust provides the conduit for this impact on follower outcomes has
Significant confidence can be placed in the present findings for a
number of reasons. First, the results of this study provide added
veracity because the use of multiple data sources eliminates the
problems of monomethod bias, which are often an issue in similar
studies. Common method variance is avoided by measuring the outcome
variables through differing data sources; the managers rate
organizational citizenship behaviors and performance, while the
subordinates rate affective commitment. Second, validated, widely-used
scales are utilized in this study, strengthening the reliability of the
results. Third, a bootstrapping technique is employed that improves on
earlier published analyses, which primarily employed standard multiple
regression analysis. Shrout and Bolger (2002; see also Mallinckrodt et
al., 2006) demonstrate that bootstrap techniques (Efron and Tibshirani,
1993) are preferable to hierarchical normal theory approaches (e.g.,
Baron and Kenny, 1986) because of the greater power that is retained in
Although trust was not found to moderate the relationships in this
model, additional work should continue to examine this role of trust in
the transformational leadership paradigm. First, theory and empirical
research suggest researchers have more to learn about trust and its
potential to affect relationships between transformational leadership
and valued individual/organizational outcomes (Bass and Steidlmeier,
1999; Neeraj, 2009). Second, trust is a complex construct. Other aspects
of trust are not considered in this study, such as propensity to trust,
benevolence, and integrity (Mayer et al., 1995). Third, trust is
measured from the subordinate's perspective, asking whether or not
the subordinate trusts the leader. A different perspective, however, may
shed light on the matter. How does the subordinate perceive the level of
trust the leader has in him or her? Does this perception make him or her
more likely to follow the leader, and does it affect subordinate
attitudes and behavior? Brower et al. (2009) find that when subordinates
are trusted by their leaders, they exhibit higher levels of OCBs and
task performance, and have lower levels of intentions to quit. They
suggest that when leaders trust subordinates, they engage in higher
quality interactions that cause subordinates to feel empowered and
confident, and that improve their feelings of loyalty toward the
organization. As a result, they exhibit more positive and less negative
behaviors in the workplace. Furthermore, what if a leader trusts a
subordinate, but the subordinate does not trust the leader, or
vice-versa (Brower et al., 2000)? Brower et al. (2009) have just begun
an investigation of the significance of how any discrepancies in trust
influence the role it plays in the transformational leader-follower
Future research may consider utilizing all forms of trust to
develop an inclusive measure or perhaps study each of these aspects of
trust individually in a study similar to the one reported here. In this
research, the relationships among transformational leadership, trust,
performance, organizational citizenship behavior, and affective
commitment were examined. There are a wealth of various other leader,
subordinate, and organizational outcomes that may be considered, such as
satisfaction, loyalty, implicit leadership theories, ethics,
absenteeism, turnover, deviant workplace behavior, communication, office
politics, conflict resolution, as well as organizational culture,
structure, and productivity.
It is likely that the quality of the relationship between the
leader and the follower also plays a role. The quality of the
relationship is the focus of leader-member exchange (LMX) theory, and
high quality relationships focus on mutual trust, loyalty, and behaviors
that extend beyond the employment contract. Indeed, the role-taking,
role-making, and role routinization of LMX are essentially part of a
trust-building process. Trust and LMX have been found to be strongly
correlated (Dirks and Ferrin, 2002; Whittington, 1997); however, trust
is not a proxy for LMX, but rather a consequence (Brower et al., 2000).
The perception of subordinates that their leader trusts them may
moderate the relationship between trust derived from LMX and various
outcome variables. Future research should continue to examine the role
of trust and the quality of leader-follower relationships on the
relationship between leader behavior and subordinate outcomes.
Although it was not directly addressed in the present research, the
effort required to build trust between a leader and his or her followers
requires a leader to be "authentic." Authentic leaders are
characterized as hopeful, optimistic, resilient, and transparent. These
leaders are described as moral/ethical, future-oriented individuals who
make the development of others a priority (Fry and Whittington, 2005).
By being true to their own values, acting in ways that are consistent
with those values, and communicating clearly, authentic leaders earn
their follows' trust and develop them into leaders themselves.
Unfortunately, some leaders who are driven to achieve do not concern
themselves with the development of their authenticity. These leaders do
not operate from the same value-centered foundation that authentic
leaders do. Their attempt to mask their inadequacies, cultivate a
certain persona they want to project, and close themselves off from
others (Bass and Steidlmeier, 1999; Price, 2003) fosters mistrust and a
sense of disconnection with followers. Thus, leader authenticity may
shed some light on the role of trust in the transformational leadership
paradigm (Nichols, 2008).
The findings from this study advance understanding of the
relationship between transformational leadership behaviors, follower
attitudes and performance, and the level of trust followers have in
their leader. Whereas many organizational managers and leaders spend
significant time and money learning how to enhance their leadership
styles, these results indicate those efforts must be coupled with
behaviors that will create high levels of trust with their followers to
ensure the most positive outcomes. Because of the complexity of trust,
however, further research is required to incorporate additional
operationalizations of trust, additional follower and organizational
outcomes, and new conceptualizations of leadership that incorporate the
potential dark side to transformational leadership (e.g., authentic and
pseudo-transformational leadership). There are many intriguing questions
yet to be answered concerning trust and transformational leadership.
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Vicki L. Goodwin
Professor of Management, Department Chair
University of North Texas
J. Lee Whittington
Professor of management
University of Dallas
Interim Dean, Associate Professor of Management
University of Dallas
Assistant Professor of Management
Texas Wesleyan University
Mean s.d. 1 2 3
1 OCB 122.35 21.02
2 Affirmative Commitment 38.78 9.64 0.23
3 Performance 9.39 1.41 0.70 0.25
4 Trust 41.49 11.54 0.41 0.48 0.46
5 Transformational 154.44 35.00 0.24 0.45 0.31
6 Trust by Transformational 0.76 1.21 -0.29 -0.37 -0.19
2 Affirmative Commitment
5 Transformational 0.77
6 Trust by Transformational -0.51 -0.36
* [absolute value of r] >0.21, p<0.05;n=88
Path Coefficients for Standardized Variables: Constrained
Trust OCB Performance
Direct Direct Indirect Direct
Transformational 0.77 *** -0.19 0.43 ** -0.11
Trust 0.56 ** 0.54 **
[R.sup.2] 0.59 *** 0.19 ** 0.22 **
Performance Affective Comm.
Indirect Direct Indirect
Transformational 0.42 ** 0.20 0.25
[R.sup.2] 0.25 ***
* p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01, *** p < 0.001
(a) [chi square] = 5.86,p > 0.32 GFI = 0.98; CFI = 1.00; RMSEA = 0.04