Follower bases of trust in their direct leader: Finding follower distinctions using the Semantic Differential Trust Survey (SDTS)
The leader-follower dyad is a complex relationship that is bound together in an intricately woven mosaic of multiple factors. Leadership in its most fundamental element is a transaction between two persons, the leader and the follower, and its effectiveness is dependent on the follower's decision whether or not to willingly or unwillingly pursue the leader. Within the context of healthy human relationships and the follower's ability to exercise free will and choice, trust is a predominant factor in the follower's decision to pursue the leader. The purpose of this study was to evaluate Bandow's (2005) four bases of trust as determinants of follower trust when the direct leader is identified as the referent. Followers in a police department and regional fire authority located in the Northwest participated in this study. The Semantic Differential Trust Survey (SDTS) was used to collect data and evaluate the relative importance of the four bases of trust as antecedents of follower trust in a direct leader. In this sense, the SDTS was successfully implemented as a diagnostic tool. Additionally, this study tested if the follower's self-reported propensity to trust, self-reported need for trust reciprocity, and length of time worked for the direct leader moderated the follower's specific bases of trust in their direct leader. The results of the research indicated that followers in the police department and regional fire authority assigned a higher relative importance to trust of commitment compared to the other bases of trust. The evaluation of the affects of the three moderating variables on the bases of trust was inconclusive. Propensity to trust within the regional fire authority correlated with trust of commitment. No other correlations were found for propensity to trust or the other two moderating variables.