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Followers and Trust


Disciplines > Leadership > Followership > Followers and Trust

Care and concern | Reliability | Honesty | See also


People follow those they trust. If I do not trust you, then I will not follow you. Trust is thus a fundamental basis for followers.

Care and concern

We all have a very basic need for safety, which we can get either by taking control ourselves, or, as followers do, ceding this to our leaders. In doing so, they are trusting the leader to take reasonable care of them.

Passive concern

Leaders make choices that can harm people. If you carefully avoid harming me, then I can trust you. Leaders should be constantly aware of how their actions affect people, and at the very least seek to 'do no harm'.

Active care

Beyond a passive concern is the active care where you may take deliberate action, which you would not otherwise take, to look after and actively care for me.

If you care for me, then I will know that you will not hurt me. Leaders who demonstrate active concern for the people around them trigger reciprocal concern.


Leaders need for their followers to trust that they will do as they say they will do. People base this decision on the evidence that they perceive. If the leader is not completely reliable in completing what they say they will do, then they will be judged as unreliable.

Keep your promises

A simple rule for leaders is : 'Do what you say'. Keep your promises. This also means that you must be very careful in making promises. It can be convenient to promise something in the short term in order to get commitment, but if you break that promise you will find that the commitment will not be forthcoming the next time.


The problem with honesty is that the short-term implications can be bad for leaders. Telling the truth can be painful. It can show you up as being less competent as you wanted to appear. Giving bad news can lead to shock and dismay.

Tell the whole truth

If you always tell the truth, including the unvarnished whole truth and bad news that others might hide, then I know that when you say something, I have the complete story. Leaders are truthful, and do not shy from giving bad news.

See also

Trust principle, Evidence principle, Trust


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