This investigation supplements Leader–Member Exchange (LMX) theory by explaining how leaders make sense of whether and when to trust members throughout role negotiations. This conceptualization of leaders' trust of members describes how leaders emplot members in storylines characterized as predictably good unpredictable or predictably bad and catalogs the formal communication practices indicative of those predictions. Forty working adults who have reputations for being effective leaderswere interviewed. Constant comparative analysis revealed leaders attempted to produce stories with characterological coherence aboutmembers' character development throughout role negotiations. The Leader-to-Member Narrative Sensemaking of Trust (LMNST) concept describes how participants reported trusting and doubting (often simultaneously) their members by evoking combinations of seven narrative elements (i.e. selection probation escalation confederation jeopardy redemption and termination). The LMNST contributes to the leadership communication literature a way of viewing leaders' discourse about members through the lens of narrative logics.
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