Breath of Clarity

Trust and Rapport

Original Post:

Trust and rapport in leadership are far more indispensable than trust and rapport in authority figures. In figure 2.2 shown below, leadership is represented by a fully functioning manager while authority figures may be represented by the sweatshop manager. While a leader must shift styles to meet the needs of different employees and different situations to produce (Manning 2014), authority figures are only concerned about their own needs and use status to demand production.

As leadership moves away from hierarchal models and towards a participative style that empowers individuals (Manning 2014), authority figures may stand firm in their directive approach. The figure below describes how the two types of influencers differ in decision-making. As illustrated by Stuart Levine and Michael Crom, principles of trust required for leadership effectiveness are deal openly with everyone, consider all points of view, give responsibility, listen to followers with intent to understand them, and care about people (Manning 2014).

Authority figures and leaders differ in that the latter has a deep care for their followers and their actions align with it. Authority figures simply initiate structure by defining their relationship with their subjects rather than devoting energy towards building trust and rapport. However, leaders recognize that trust and cooperation are feelings and not instructions (Sinek 2014). So, they make the choice to look after others (Sinek 2014). They prioritize creating environments where followers feel safe. Great leaders don’t sacrifice people within the organization to protect their own interests, but they would sacrifice the numbers to save the people within the organization (Sinek 2014). In order to support their followers feeling secure, leaders must show that they are willing to sacrifice for others to gain so that they can evoke the followers’ capacity to be heroes (Sinek 2014). When leaders care about their people, followers care about the visions, the followers become focused and energized, develop momentum, and achieve excellence (Manning 2014). The followers will give their blood, sweat and tears to see the visions come to life if they truly feel that their leaders would do it for them (Sinek 2014).


Manning, George. 2014. The Art of Leadership. New York: McGraw-Hill

Sinek, Simon. 2014. “Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe.” TED. YouTube. May 19th, 2014. Video, 11:59.

Comment by Lisa Neuberger:

Hi Mary,

You do a great job in your post of showing how our concept of good leadership has been moving away from authoritarian, hierarchical standards toward self-sacrifice and shared results. I appreciate the way you included and explained the Managerial Grid to note how fully functioning managers are examples of leaders while sweatshop managers embody authority figures.

There’s a meme I saw on LinkedIn that your post got me thinking about. It goes something like this (not an exact quote): “If your team performed well while you were on vacation, you should be promoting from within.” Which says to me that the manager of that team is a leader, someone who didn’t micromanage day-to-day activities, but empowered his/her team to have the confidence to get the work done, even when the manager wasn’t there. In fact, the manager’s leadership allowed team members to become leaders themselves.

I’m curious about the types of leaders you have worked for. Have you ever had an authoritarian boss, or someone who was willing to manipulate workers to get their own way?


My Reply:

Hi Lisa,

Great example of a manager who is spreading leadership principles across LinkedIn. First of all, Stuart Levine and Michael Crom identified “give responsibility” as a principle of trust required for leadership effectiveness (Manning 2014). By giving responsibility with minimal oversight, this leader instilled a belief in the team members that they can independently thrive at completing the tasks. Manning (2014) mentioned that the most important, fundamental quality of leadership is integrity and defines it as honesty, strength of character, and courage. In the example, the leader’s courage to give the team members that responsibility sticks out to me. The leader had the courage to trust. In turn, the followers ended up trusting the leader. Trust leads to respect, loyalty and, ultimately, action (Manning 2014). So, it makes sense that the employees performed well. A true leader strives to not only bring the potential out of their staff, but also to support them in growing into a leadership role. Hierarchical standards begin to dissolve as a leader empowers the followers by instilling confidence in them. Further, Sinek (2014) recommended that leaders provide people opportunity and self confidence so that they can achieve more outside the organization.

Good question- I have not had a completely authoritarian boss. I would say that all of my bosses thus far exhibited some qualities of leadership and failed to implement other qualities of leadership. I could see how an authority figure would think he/she was instilling motivation in followers for the greater good of the company when employees saw it as manipulating to achieve company profit. Often, it is hard to decipher the difference between the greater good of the company and a leader getting his/her own way because a person of high authority typically does well insofar as the company profits. The term “manipulation” in the question makes me consider whether I have had leaders who deceived me. Additionally, I have seen a lot of authority figures have problems with employee retention because there is a discrepancy in understanding about the percentage of company profits going to the executive members or the leaders never built rapport and gained trust.

Comment by Professor Robert Gnuse:

Mary, good explanations. A good differentiation between good leaders and authority figures are the abilities to consider all points of view, being open with followers, empathy, etc. (as there are others too). The vantage points are similar but often supported vastly differently. “Authority figure” implies one is dictating actions while a “leader” implies one that will do the work along side you. Which would you work harder for to support/promote? Transformational leaders seek to inspire others while aligning with goals… not just to meet financial figures. The 6 Principles mentioned in the text clearly outline the differences in priorities.