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Trust is a key component of successful work relationships between leaders and followers that enables cooperation, helps to manage differences, encourages information sharing, and increases openness and mutual acceptance (Den Hartog, 2003). Ciulla (2004) posited that “trust has taken over from authority as the modern foundation of leadership” (p. 78), though it is not easy to build especially in multicultural contexts as there’s often a “‘right vs. right’ and ‘values vs. values’ conflict” (p. 40). Trust provides the glue that holds the team together through uncertainties. Nemiro, Beyerlein, Bradley and Beyerlein (2008) argued that the behaviours that build trust, such as keeping one’s word, work in all contexts (face-to-face or virtual) and those organizations where frontline managers trust their senior leadership posted 42 % higher returns. Heliwell and Huang (2005) also posited that trust was the most valuable determinant of job satisfaction, equating it to a 36 % pay rise (or cut). Further, Van den Akker, Heres, Lasthuizen and Six’s (2009) study suggested that integrity (together with ability) was especially important in cases of trust erosion compared to cases of trust building, where benevolence was the most important dimension of trustworthiness (Lapidot et al., 2007). Furthermore, Dirks and Ferrin (2002) found that the most important antecedents for trust in leaders were leadership style and practices, particularly transformational leadership, perceived organizational support, and interactional justice. They also suggested that role-modelling behaviour may be responsible for the effects of transformational leadership. Conversely, Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Moorman and Fetter (1990) found that transformational leadership had a direct effect on followers’ trust in their leader, suggesting an implicit relationship between ethical leadership and trust. Further, Den Hartog’s (2003) research on the relationships between leadership and trust found a strong correlation between perceived leader integrity and trust in a leader. Finally, the trustworthiness of the leader was seen as a prerequisite for setting a good example as an ethical leader (Trevino, Brown, & Hartman, 2003). Ethics should, therefore, be pursued even in multicultural contexts as it is the heart of authentic, good and enduring leadership (Ciulla, 2004). Trevino, Hartman and Brown’s (2000) pillars of ethical leadership (role-modelling through visible action, the use of rewards and discipline, and communicating about ethics and values) were relevant behaviours that leaders can employ to demonstrate their integrity. These behaviours, therefore, are important antecedents to trust. It was expected that the behavioural expressions of the three pillars of ethical leadership, as observed by followers, would increase the level of trust that followers have in their leader and the leader’s trustworthiness.

Other Possible Factors

Other factors that have been posited to influence leadership effectiveness and which were studied in terms of contribution to exemplary leadership include social security, which may be affected by forced early retirement or institutional collapse due to external factors (Bukusi, 2004); recognition and rewards which were observed to contribute to servant leadership in the same context along with modelling, sacrificing for others, meeting the needs of followers and developing them; service as a primary function of leadership; treating employees with respect (humility); and involving others in decision making (Koshal, 2005).

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