Making things happen through challenging goals: Leader Proactivity, Trust, and Business-Unit Performance

Craig D. Crossley, Cecily D. Cooper, Tara S. Wernsing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Building on decades of research on the proactivity of individual performers, this study integrates research on goal setting and trust in leadership to examine manager proactivity and business unit sales performance in one of the largest sales organizations in the United States. Results of a moderated-mediation model suggest that proactive senior managers establish more challenging goals for their business units (N = 50), which in turn are associated with higher sales performance. We further found that employees' trust in the manager is a critical contingency variable that facilitates the relationship between challenging sales goals and subsequent sales performance. This research contributes to growing literatures on trust in leadership and proactivity by studying their joint effects at a district-unit level of analysis while identifying district managers' tendency to set challenging goals as a process variable that helps translate their proactivity into the collective performance of their units.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)540-549
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2013


  • Goals
  • Leadership
  • Performance
  • Proactive behavior
  • Trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology

Cite this