Developing the Next Generation of Leaders: London Business School’s Leadership Incubator

The Leadership Incubator is a platform for student leaders at London Business School to discover, develop and practice their leadership competencies. Now in its eighth year, the Leadership Incubator is a partnership between three teams at LBS: Experiential Learning, the Leadership Institute, and the Career Centre.    

The learning journey starts in September each year and takes students with leadership roles within our community on an iterative process of collective exploration and experimentation. The key components of the Leadership Incubator include insight from faculty, reflective practice, coaching from an executive coach, action learning and practical workshops.

Recently, the students participated in an interactive workshop focused on using their whole body to communicate effectively as a leader. This was facilitated by Esam Bakhsh. One of the concepts he introduced was the Trust Equation. This can be a powerful tool for leaders to build trust with their team members and colleagues. Students learnt that the Trust Equation is based on four key components: credibility, reliability, intimacy, and self-orientation.


Credibility is the foundation of the Trust Equation. It refers to the leader’s competence, expertise, and knowledge. Credible leaders inspire confidence and trust in their team members. The team believes that the leader has the necessary skills and expertise to guide them towards success.


The second component of the Trust Equation is reliability. Does the leader follow through on their commitments and promises? Leaders who are reliable build trust with their team members by delivering on their promises and consistently meeting expectations.


Intimacy is the third component of the Trust Equation. In a business context, intimacy refers to the leader’s ability to connect with their team members on a personal level. Intimate leaders build trust by showing empathy, being approachable, and demonstrating that they care about their team members’ well-being.


The final component of the Trust Equation is self-orientation. It refers to the leader’s focus on themselves rather than their team members. Leaders high in self-orientation may be perceived as selfish or self-serving, eroding trust.

Applying the Trust Equation

In this Leadership Incubator workshop, students learnt that leaders can build trust with their team members and colleagues by focusing on the four components of the Trust Equation. They can demonstrate credibility by sharing their expertise and knowledge, reliability by following through on their commitments, intimacy by connecting with their team members on a personal level, and low self-orientation by putting the needs of their team members first.

Vishal Khandheria is the Co-President of the LBS Acting & Comedy Club and a member of the Leadership Incubator. “I am responsible for coaching and leading the school improv comedy team. So, this workshop hit close to home. Often in business situations, we unknowingly block ideas or think too much before speaking. I notice this with every new improviser that I have coached. The exercises in this session helped my peers break out of those habits. Esam demonstrated the power of saying “Yes, And” to acknowledge new ideas from team members. It shows how a simple change in behaviour can build creativity in a team and lead to innovation”.

In this Leadership Incubator workshop, students learnt that using their whole body to communicate, including nonverbal cues such as body language and tone of voice, can help them build trust as a leader. By communicating clearly and authentically, all leaders can reinforce their credibility, reliability, intimacy, and low self-orientation, which can enhance trust and improve their ability to lead effectively.

If you’d like to know more about the Leadership Incubator, please contact

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