We’ve moved from a philosophy of working and leading that depended on who was in control, to a much more collaborative approach that encourages working together to achieve organizational goals.

The focus of human resource development (HRD) is on unleashing human expertise in the workplace. Organizations have seen great value in nurturing individuals through HRD practices and recognize people as the primary focus of organizations. The value people bring to organizations is theorized as human capital, which is defined as “the total value of the human resources of an enterprise, and is composed of the staff and their ability to successfully complete their work” (Wang & Wang, 2008, p. 1012).

As we look at the value humans bring to organizations, we have to consider how to ensure each person is encouraged to put forth their best resources in an effort to meet organizational goals. Social exchange theory indicates that when individuals feel supported and encouraged in the workforce, they are more likely to reciprocate by highly engaging in the organization (Saks, 2006). This engagement can be defined as “the amount in which employees are willing to invest in the success of the organization” (Hurtienne & Hurtienne, 2020). If we are to encourage individuals through HRD, engage them in the workplace, and increase organizational performance, we should first look at leadership practices and how they might encourage employee engagement.

There is a wealth of literature on the topic of leadership, spanning from decades that cover a variety of perspectives concerning the workforce. We’ve moved from a philosophy of working and leading that depended on who was in control, to a much more collaborative approach that encourages working together to achieve organizational goals.

Over the years various leadership strategies, theories, skills, and approaches have been proposed and used; however, a notable overlap has been identified, calling for an approach that is innately unique. Equity leadership is a newly developed concept that seeks to align the needs of today’s organizations with the people who are so crucial to them.

Beginning with the foundations of Alderfer’s (1969) Theory of Human needs, equity leadership determines individual employee needs as a means of providing support from leaders. Equity leadership acknowledges the individual personal and professional needs of employees in order to support and encourage them to reach their fullest potential in the workforce.

In onboarding new employees, leaders elicit feedback regarding existence, relatedness, and growth needs that inform how leaders might approach individuals. This understanding provides a foundation for a relationship between leaders and followers that should continue to be fostered through continuous communication, allowing for any changes in employee needs to be identified and considered by leaders.

As we continue to consider HRD practices, equity leadership can be looked to as a leadership approach that is unique and all-encompassing, while increasing engagement, and meeting the individual needs of employees.

Organizational Performance and Change is one of the concentrations in CUW’s Doctor of Business Administration program. The first course that students take in that concentration is Leading Transformation and Change which includes models, theories, and real-life applications from several scholars.



Alderfer, C.P. (1969). An empirical test of a new theory of human needs. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 4(2), 142-175.

Hurtienne, M. W., & Hurtienne, L. E. (2020). Framing your future. https://www.morphadvisors.com

Saks, A.M. (2006). Antecedents and consequences of employee engagement. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 21(7), 600-619. DOI:10.1108/02683940610690169

Wang, I.-M., Shieh, C.-J., & Wang, F.-J. (2008). Effect of Human Capital Investment on

Organizational Performance. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal,

36(8), 1011–1022. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2008.36.8.1011

If this story has inspired you, why not explore how you can help further Concordia's mission through giving.