Ethics In Leadership

Implicit bias refers to attitudes and stereotypes that influence our understanding but in an unconscious manner (Golbeck et al., 2016). In contrast, explicit biases involve a greater degree of conscious awareness. Conceived negatively, explicit bias can reflect willful ignorance or intentional discrimination. Presumably, if we are aware of bias, then we can become better at detecting it and controlling it (i.e., no longer being ignorant or intentional in biased attitudes and actions).
However, implicit biases function automatically. They are deeply ingrained perspectives that we don’t even realize are stereotypes or have stereotype properties. They can be much harder for us to detect in ourselves than explicit biases. It is likely that we ALL have some implicit biases.
For leaders and organizations, implicit biases can have very powerful and negative consequences. They can impact how we interact with and trust (or not trust) each other. They can influence decisions about hiring, pay, promotions, and opportunities (or lack thereof). To state things differently, implicit biases can create unethical decisions and organizational activities that are largely unrecognized.
However, implicit biases don’t just impact “big decisions” by leaders and organizations. Implicit biases often emerge through small slights in the little things that people say or do that they are not aware that they say or do. For example, expressing surprise that someone was successful at completing a task without realizing that the unconscious source of that surprise is because the person is female… or young… or old… or any other demographic category… can reveal implicit biases. It can also damage relationships and create harm for others.
For the sake of transparency, let’s acknowledge that topics or discussions about discrimination, prejudice, stereotypes, or implicit bias, can make people feel uncomfortable, even defensive. However, courage, ethical courage, is an important element of effective leadership. Northouse’s (2019) model of ethical leadership contains five core principles: (a) respect others, (b) serve others, (c) show justice, (d) manifest honesty, and (e) build community. Each of these principles reflects our courageous consideration of others. Ethical decision-making is so much more than logical. Simply leveraging the ethical perspectives and decision-making models can create the impression that leaders plug information into an equation and crank out an answer. The frustration experienced by many ethicists and educators lies in the inability to move the process from the head to the heart, hands, and habits.
Thus, we must learn to suspend judgment for a while, listen, and consider others’ perspectives to build civil discourse that can improve the lives of everyone. In other words, the ethical leader, at the very least, considers the possibility that implicit bias exists and makes the time and effort to listen to and learn from others as they lead. They lead with the head. They lead with heart. They lead with compassion. They make space for others who see things differently. They attempt to put themselves into others’ points of view. That space of courageous consideration is the space where relationships can begin to grow, and the welfare of all organizational members becomes part of the organizational culture – a community of trust. The discussion during this workshop gives us all the opportunity to exercise ethical leadership as we build dialogue.

  1. Review the Background Information.
  2. Read: Faddis (Course text).
    1. Chapter 2; Strategy 6 – pp. 64 – 70.
    2. Chapter 3; Strategy 7 – pp. 71 – 96.
    3. Chapter 3; Strategy 8 – pp. 97 – 102.
  3. Review IWU’s official “Diversity & inclusion” statement and its context(new tab).

Multicultural Diversity

  1. Indiana Wesleyan University is a Christ-centered academic institution in the Wesleyan Church, striving to be a diverse learning community reflecting the world in which we live.  There is unique energy at IWU which is a beautiful blend of academic excellence, innovation, purpose, and faith.  Born out of a tradition of social activism for women’s rights and the abolition of slavery, the Wesleyan Church is committed to growing IWU as a multicultural institution.
  2. The primary value for Indiana Wesleyan University is Christlikeness. The challenge to follow Christ compels us to pursue a personal and professional lifestyle of commitment, leadership, service, stewardship, innovation, and diversity.  A truly great Christian university cultivates and sustains a community culture that values, challenges, and supports all of its members.
  3. The work of becoming a community that reflects and promotes the diversity of God’s Kingdom is personally rewarding and enriching.  More importantly, a truly great Christian university will not be diverse as a matter of duty, or simply as a happenstance of changing demographics. Instead, a great Christian university will recognize that diversity of experience, thought and culture is essential for transformational learning.
  4. Diversity and equality are deeply embedded in the heritage of both the University and Church. Indiana Wesleyan University stands ready – with the resources and the passion – to equip future generations of learners with skills they will need to meet the challenges of our rapidly changing world.

Write an initial response (300-400 words) to the following prompt(s) or question(s):

    1. The background information and video introduce the implicit bias concepts.
    2. Briefly describe a recent attitude, action (or decision), or even inaction that you observed in your organization that may be explainable, at least in part, by implicit bias. How were organizational members affected? (this should be no more than ½ of your total post).
    3. Then, discuss how such implicit bias-driven attitudes and actions may relate to at least one other concept we have examined in this course (e.g., the lead character, ethical perspective, etc.)? Try to make connections to different course concepts than other students so that we can benefit from a broad connection to ethics and decision-making for leaders.