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The Destructive Effects of Distrust: Leaders as Brokers of Trust in Organizations

The Dark Side of Leadership: Identifying and Overcoming Unethical Practice in Organizations

ISBN: 978-1-78635-500-3, eISBN: 978-1-78635-499-0

ISSN: 1479-3660

Publication date: 8 December 2016

Abstract

It is well known that trust is an essential, yet a fragile part of organizational life. Because trust sometimes has to be placed without guarantees, it will inevitably be broken, violated, and damaged when parties involved in trustworthy relationships let others down. When trust-destroying events occur, trust is shattered and its level plummets quickly into the domain of distrust. The speed with which trust can be destroyed depends on the magnitude of damage from the act of untrustworthiness and the perceived intentionality of the untrustworthiness. Moreover, if seen as intentional, the destruction of trust is particularly severe, as intentional untrustworthiness reveals malevolent intentions that are seen as highly predictive of future untrustworthiness. Often, leaders are the ones responsible for improper handling of, destroying, or violating trust in their organizations. In this chapter, we explore the consequences of leaders for violating trust and examine how trust changes over time as a function of different types of violations and attempts at restoration. We argue that because distrust may irrevocably harm organizations, leaders as moral agents need to consciously work to rebuild relationships, restore broken trust, and instill hope.

Keywords

Citation

Kutsyuruba, B. and Walker, K.D. (2016), "The Destructive Effects of Distrust: Leaders as Brokers of Trust in Organizations", The Dark Side of Leadership: Identifying and Overcoming Unethical Practice in Organizations (Advances in Educational Administration, Vol. 26), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 133-154. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-366020160000026008

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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