Build Trust as a Servant Leader

Leadership in any global context has at least one common thread: trust. Any world culture is built on dynamics shared by a collection of individuals based on trust of one another, (Schein, 2010) which is a fundamental factor for cooperation between people. (Brower, 2000) For any leader to engage in an established culture, whether an insider or an outsider to that culture, trust must be established between the leader and followers.

A leader who exercises servant leadership is capable of establishing such trust, even on a global stage in diverse cultural settings. Since servant leadership values community, trust is one of the key qualities servant leadership provides the leader/follower relationship, (Northouse, 2013, p. 221) and is considered to be a primary building block for servant leaders that, in turn, fosters a culture of trust. (Greenleaf, 2002)

In a market where globalization is an ongoing process of interdependence and integration of a worldwide network, (Mendenhall, 2008) the world has become full of high chaos and continuous change. (Marquardt and Berger, 2000, p. 1) This has raised the need for trust among leaders and followers, thus a need for more leaders who practice the servant leadership model. Central to this need for trust is the ability by leaders to develop and maintain relationships to raise their level of effectiveness. (Lobel, 1990) Global leaders must learn to build, secure and leverage trusting relationships (Javidan, 2007, p. 219) in order to overcome the diversity in a global market. Successful global leaders have testified the ability to build relationships and understand others at the beginning of a global assignment was a potential road to success, communicating understanding of the environment and building trust with those in that environment. (Terrell, 2013, p. 1072) Servant leadership made it possible for leaders to establish relationships through trust.


Brower, H. H., Schoorman, F. D., & Tan, H. H. (2000). A model of relational leadership: The integration of trust and leader–member exchange. The Leadership Quarterly, 11(2), 227–250.

Greenleaf, R. K., & Spears, L. C. (2002). Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness 25th Anniversary Edition (25 Anv edition). Paulist Press.

Javidan, M. (2007). The Global Mindset. Amsterdam; Boston: JAI Press.

Lobel, S. A. (1990). Global leadership competencies: Managing to a different drumbeat. Human Resource Management, 29(1), 39–47.

Marquardt, M. J., & Berger, N. O. (2000). Global Leaders for the Twenty-First Century. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Mendenhall, M. E., Osland, J., Bird, A., Oddou, G. R., & Maznevski, M. L. (2008). Global Leadership: Research, Practice and Development (New Ed edition). London ; New York: Routledge.

Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: theory and practice (6th ed). Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

Schein, E. H. (2010). Organizational culture and leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Terrell, R. S., & Rosenbusch, K. (2013). How global leaders develop. Journal of Management Development, 32(10), 1056–1079.

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