Ethical leadership and trust: It's all about meeting expectations

L. Van den Akker, L. Heres, K. Lasthuizen, F.E. Six

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    In this study, we examine the effects of different ethical leadership behaviors, as perceived by followers, on the trust that those followers have in their leader. In line with the ethical leadership theory of Brown, Treviño, and Harrison (2005) we explore the following ethical leadership behaviors: role modeling, demonstrating morality, securing ethical behavior, contextualizing success, transmitting organizational values, and encouraging transparency. Using a web-based survey with nearly 500 respondents from European business corporations, we find that most ethical behaviors are positively related to trust. We also find that the more a leader acts in a way that followers feel is the appropriate ethical leader behavior, the more a leader will be trusted. Thus, the relationship between ethical leader behavior and trust is (partly) moderated by the consistency between desired and observed behavior of a leader, as perceived by their followers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)102-122
    Number of pages21
    JournalInternational Journal of Leadership Studies
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • Ethical leadership
    • Trust
    • Implicit leadership theories


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