Shortly after their publication in a major research journal, two social science researchers from Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor were invited to present a new leadership model and their research findings on the world stage in Dublin, Ireland. Furthermore, the research team has been asked to present their leadership model to HR leaders at the 2023 WI-SHRM Conference, confirming that our professors and doctoral programs are making a difference in the world and impacting organizational development.

Concordia’s School of Business Dean, Dr. Matthew Hurtienne, and Dr. Laura Hurtienne, Assistant Professor of Business and Director for CUWAA’s Doctor of Business Administration, conceptualized gaps within current leadership models. Through previously conducted studies, the research team saw themes regarding the importance of individual employee attention. A recent study showed that their model is a predictor for improving employee engagement that can lead to increased productivity and employee retention.

What is Equity Leadership

Strolling through the leadership section of a bookstore or browsing through Amazon’s leadership books, you’ll soon realize there’s an abundance of theories and suggestions on successful leadership. Many of these books tend to categorize employees as if they cut them from the same dough, making them identical. However, isn’t it accurate to say that each employee is unique, with their own needs and personal motivations?

In recent years, organizations have started to recognize that each employee has a unique background, different cultural norms, and even various aspirations. To provide adequate support for the diverse realm of personalities means diverging from many leadership practices of the past.   

Equity leadership (EL) “identifies individual employee’s personal and professional resources, relationships, and opportunity needs in an effort to support and encourage employees to reach their fullest potential in the workforce and increase positive organizational outcomes” (Hurtienne & Hurtienne, 2023). This theory, recently developed and published in a top-tier research journal, acknowledges that leaders need to take the time to understand each employee as a separate individual in an effort to motivate each one, leading to increased productivity, employee retention, and employee engagement (Hurtienne & Hurtienne, 2023).

Direct leaders can engage in conversations with followers that provide insight regarding how to support each individual through intentional, consistent one-on-one meetings with employees. Building trust between leaders and their subordinates is important for positive outcomes in an organization’s structure.

Connections to employee engagement

Employee engagement is the amount in which employees are willing to invest in the success of the organization (Hurtienne & Hurtienne, 2020). We know that employee engagement leads to high levels of the triple P’s: passion, productivity, and performance. Additionally, leaders need to recognize that they can’t force employees to be more engaged; the direct actions of the leader engage employees.

Consider employee engagement as a process that requires continuous nurturing and ongoing constructive actions with each employee. To commit to this view, see engagement strategies through the lens of each employee.

Organizational leaders and human resource offices should continuously look for ways to unleash human expertise and potential (Swanson and Holtan, 2009). Based on their own personal experiences and connections to the organization, individual employees will decide whether to be engaged or not. Leaders can affect employee performance through distinctive interactions and employment decisions. Positive perceptions of these interactions can lead to higher levels of employee engagement and the successful development of individual employees.

This means that there is a positive correlation between leaders meeting employees where they are. The concept of equity leadership provides the chance for leaders to better understand their employees on a more personal level, leading to the growth of each individual.

Connection of Equity Leadership to the Bible

Concordia University grounds our education in the Christian Faith and the one Triune God. Faculty research and curricula weave the works of the Bible and the Christian faith into them. The concept of equity is not a new concept; the Bible tells us that everyone is made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), and although we are one in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:28), each person has different abilities (Matthew 25:15). Even as you walk through Concordia’s campus you can quickly see the connections of the Bible, Christian teachings, and equity on a wall with the following verse, “May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth. May the people praise you, God; may all the people praise you (Psalms 67:4:5).

Lessons of parables

The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) provides several lessons and points to the need to understand Equity Leadership. Above all, we should use the talents that God has blessed us with, we should grow in the Lord, and even God’s judgment is on an individual basis. We are born with different skills, and each individual has different God-given abilities.

Understanding the Parable of the Talents and Equity Leadership can provide a framework to help unleash the talents of each employee. Rev. Dr. Jamison Hardy has said that “Jesus’s death and resurrection is payment for the sin of the whole world. Even though we all sin differently, Christ has given equity in forgiveness through death and resurrection. The one, sinless man paid for the sins of the entire world.” In addition, God also shows us that in the final hours, he will judge with equity (Psalm 75:1-7)

As is often the case, we seek God’s guidance when we look to understand the world. His example of equitable leadership is prime, showing leaders throughout the world that every person is created uniquely. Further, Rev. Dr. Jamison mentioned, “God provides us proof that equity does not come in the form of equality. Each of us is born with different gifts to use in the Kingdom of God”. Leaders can use the framework of Equity Leadership to navigate how to support followers as human beings and encourage them to foster their God-given talents in the workplace.

Earning a doctoral degree can help you improve your skills

Concordia University Wisconsin’s DBA program includes a concentration in Organizational Performance and Change (OPC) that helps to cultivate expertise in developing highly competent and effective leaders. Our students in the DBA program are current and aspiring leaders who help to create and lead organizational strategies. The OPC concentration emphasizes studying strategies that genuinely improve performance and align with organizational strategies and outcomes. As a result, the program will help students become equitable leaders.