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Leadership in I-O Psychology

Misty103 is a pen name for a psychology graduate who enjoys writing about and sharing psychology knowledge.

What steps can a leader take to ensure equity and fairness within his or her organization?

In order for a leader to ensure equity and fairness within his or her organization, he or she first needs to understand the concepts. It is often believed that equality, equity, and fairness all have interchangeable definitions, but that is not true and understanding the different concepts is the first step in ensuring them in a workplace. Equality is defined as the same, fairness as appropriate in the circumstances, and equity as the quality of being impartial (Concordia University Irvine, 2019). Once a leader has a good understanding of the differences in the concepts then he or she can create a plan designed to ensure and promote equity and fairness within his or her organization. The first step the leader should take is to evaluate the current levels of equity and fairness within his or her organization so that the leader can know what is working well and what requires improvement. The leader should also take into account the organization’s organizational culture during the evaluation as fairness is based off circumstances.

Once the leader has evaluated his or her organization in terms of equity and fairness, the plan he or she creates should focus on the maintaining and/or improving the equity and fairness in the organization. A leader needs to know and understand the other employees in order to promote equity and fairness by not propagating stereotypes, taking care to engage with employees as individuals, and to overcome the challenges that come with being a leader a diverse workforce (SNHU, n.d.). Typically there tends to be six main challenges that occur when a person leads a diverse workforce. According to Joplin and Daus (1997) the six major challenges are: changed power dynamics, diversity of opinions, perceived lack of empathy, tokenism, real and perceived, participation, and overcoming inertia. A leader needs to focus on these six challenges during his or her evaluation of the organization in order to create a plan that will focus on handling these challenges and/or improving the organizations handling of the challenges.

A leader also needs to be aware of the genders of those who work for the organization as Bowles and McGinn (2005) found that women often fail to claim leadership positions due to gender bias, lack of motivation, lack of experience, and familial responsibilities. A leader needs to be aware of the challenges women face in the workforce so that he or she can act to ensure equity and fairness for all employees regardless of factors like race, gender, and/or age. If a leader was seeking to specifically ensure equity and fairness for women within the organization, the leader would need to start by creating opportunities that would place female employees in high-visibility assignments (SNHU, n.d.). However, just providing high-visibility assignments would not be enough as the leader would also need to work to empower the female employees and ensure that they are suited for the position through mentoring, accounting for their required work-life balance, and taking into account the goals of the employees.


Bowles, H. R., & McGinn, K. L. (2005). Claiming authority: Negotiating challenges for women leaders. In

D. Messick & R. Kramer (Eds.), The psychology of leadership (pp. 191–208). New York, NY: Routledge.

Concordia University Irvine. (2019). How to balance equity, equality, and fairness. Retrieved from

SNHU. (n.d.). Module overview. Retrieved from

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Leader’s Responsibilities

A leader’s responsibilities to his or her organization or the entity he or she serves can be somewhat dependent on the type of organization and the leader’s role within the organization. For example, a team leader’s responsibilities might be to his or her team, while a leader in a position such as a CEO might consider his or her responsibilities to be to the organization as a whole. While the type of specific responsibilities can differ based on a leader’s position, the overall responsibilities should remain the same regardless of position. The largest responsibilities a leader has towards his or her organization or the entity he or she serves is ethical behavior and supporting the success of the organization. Regardless of a leader’s position or standing within an organization, he or she has a responsibility to behave in an ethical manner to set an example for others and to behave in a manner befitting of his or her leadership position.

While ethical behavior seems like a straightforward responsibility, that is in fact not always the case as different people and parties can have different opinions on what constitutes as ethical. Ethics is a branch of philosophy which focuses on what is considered right or wrong and just or unjust. While there are certain behaviors which are generally considered unethical, like lying or stealing, there are other behaviors where perspective can play a large role in whether or not a behavior is ethical (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2016, p. 9). For this reason many organization have an ethical code of conduct for employees to follow which can make it easier for leaders to behave in a manner considered ethical by the organization, which they are employed. For example, if a leader was faced with making a decision on a dispute occurring between two employees, the leader could refer to the organization’s ethical code of conduct in order to ensure their handling of the situation would be considered ethical. The ethical behavior of leaders is vital to an organization’s ability to be successful as the perception of ethical leadership and group ethical leadership are positively related to innovative work behavior (Yidong & Xinxin, 2013). The perception of the ethical behavior of leaders has been proven to increase or decrease the motivation of the employees based on that perception (Kalshoven, Den Hartog, & De Hoogh, 2011).

Perspective of a Leader

I would say that my responsibility to be an ethical leader and to work for the success of the organization which employs me remains the same for my position as an after school counselor and in my potential future role in human resources. As an after school counselor there is a strict ethical code of behavior, which I follow, and in doing so I help to ensure the success of my organization. In a potential future role in human resources, I would also likely have a code of ethics which I would be able to follow in order to ensure both my ethical behavior and the success of the organization which would be employing me.


Kalshoven, K., Den Hartog, D. N., & De Hoogh, A. H. B. (2011). Ethical leadership at work

(ELW): Development and validation of a multidimensional measure. The Leadership Quarterly, 22(1), 51–69.

Koocher, G. P., & Keith-Spiegel, P. (2016). Ethics in psychology and the mental health

professions: Standards and cases (4th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.

Yidong, T., & Xinxin, L. (2013). How ethical leadership influence employees' innovative work

behavior: A perspective of intrinsic motivation: JBE JBE. Journal of Business Ethics, 116(2), 441-455. doi:

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