Cognition-based and affect-based trust as mediators of leader behavior influences on team performance

J Appl Psychol. 2011 Jul;96(4):863-71. doi: 10.1037/a0022625.


We develop a model in which cognitive and affective trust in the leader mediate the relationship between leader behavior and team psychological states that, in turn, drive team performance. The model is tested on a sample of 191 financial services teams in Hong Kong and the U.S. Servant leadership influenced team performance through affect-based trust and team psychological safety. Transformational leadership influenced team performance indirectly through cognition-based trust. Cognition-based trust directly influenced team potency and indirectly (through affect-based trust) influenced team psychological safety. The effects of leader behavior on team performance were fully mediated through the trust in leader variables and the team psychological states. Servant leadership explained an additional 10% of the variance in team performance beyond the effect of transformational leadership. We discuss implications of these results for research on the relationship between leader behavior and team performance, and for efforts to enhance leader development by combining knowledge from different leadership theories.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Female
  • Group Processes*
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Psychological Tests
  • Trust / psychology*
  • United States