Review: When Trust in the Leader Matters: The Moderated-Mediation Model of Team Performance and Trust

Mach, M., & Lvina, E. (2016). When Trust in the Leader Matters: The Moderated-Mediation Model of Team Performance and Trust. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, (just-accepted), 00-00.

By Rachel Webb

Through a series of data collecting, questionnaires, and analysis comprised over three stages research on how trust within a team and a teams level of performance has begun to develop a more stable correlation. This study contributes to the literature by exploring the “conditions in which trust in a leader translates into trust in a team and subsequent team performance (Mach & Lvina, 2016).” We have seen many teams that have a full roster of previously successful and potentially brilliant athletes and are unable to achieve success despite this seemingly clear advantage of players. Even with the best and most well paid coaches, success is anything but a guarantee. With this knowledge the researchers in this study looked at the growing empirical evidence that is in support of team trust and how different avenues of trust can predict the future performance of a team. Specifically using this moderate-mediation model (leader-member exchange theory or LMX and transferability model), this study contributes to the clarification of trust in a leader, how that can translate to team trust, and evidently effect overall team performance. Something that was significant in this work was recognizing not only the trust in individuals, but also the ability to disperse the trust throughout a group in order to have a significant positive effect on the performance of a team. Also taken into consideration was the teams past performance, as a way to use a virtual contextual variable in testing the effectiveness of trust on performance.

Ultimately this study was able to successfully test the combined effects of trust in different individuals (leaders and team) and of teams’ configurations (level and consensus) in predicting team performance. Each of these types of trust were deemed to be tightly dependent of one another. For example, trust in the leader (or coaches) shapes trust in the team members individually, and if this trust in the leaders is able to be instilled within the entire team it in turns allows the team to be more effective in their performance. The coaches were shown to greatly impact the trust transferability based on the findings, and play a key third-party facilitator role in maintaining trust within the team. This was demonstrated by the players spending more time monitoring and scrutinizing their coaches’ choices when they did not trust them, which initiates the coach to be more protective of their own decisions, thus creating more distractions when it comes to performing successful team tasks. Even if there is only one teammate who does not trust their leader, they have the potential to end any snowball effect of team-leader trust that may be fostered within the team. There was also a generous amount of support for the findings to be even more substantial when the team consensus about trust in the leader was high because it allowed for more effective trust transferability. In regards to the teams past performances, even if the teams past performance was not high, if the team possessed a high level and low dispersion of team trust they were able to achieve a better performance result. The researchers in this study were able to gather that the findings that team trust can change the relationship pattern between past and future performance can potentially explain the cases of extreme and positive turnarounds for some teams who simply had a change in leadership. As previously stated, research supports the highly important role of a coach or leader in the ability to disperse trust throughout a team and positively effect the performance outcome of a team.

DR. B Performance Psychology

DR. B Performance Psychology