Document Type : Original Article (Quantified)


1 Assistance Prof, Education Department, School of Humanity, University of Kashan, Kashan, Iran

2 Associate Prof, Education Department, School of Humanity, University of Kashan, Kashan, Iran


The purpose of the present study was to investigate the mediating role of psychological security in the effect of perceived ethical leadership style on teachers' voice behavior. The current research was descriptive-correlative, and the statistical population included primary school teachers of Ray city in the academic year of 2022-2023 as many as 849 people, and the sample size was obtained 383 people by using Cochran's formula and stratified random sampling method., Three questionnaires were used in order to collect data: ethical leadership questionnaire by Brown et al. (2005), Hames' voice behavior questionnaire (2012), and Edmonson's psychological security questionnaire (1999). The reliability of the questionnaires was obtained through Cronbach's alpha coefficient: 0.88 for ethical leadership, 0.85 for voice behavior, and 0.90 for psychological security. Research data analysis was done by Smart Pls and Spss statistical software at descriptive and inferential levels. The results showed that the mean of ethical leadership (3.06) is slightly higher than the average (3), and the mean of voice behavior (3.23) and the psychological security of teachers (3.71) were higher than the average (3). The effect coefficients showed that ethical leadership with (Beta=0.74, P=0.001); psychological security with (Beta=0.134, P=0.001); and ethical leadership with (Beta= 0.53, P=0.001) have positive and significant effects respectively on the voice behavior; the voice behavior of teachers; and psychological security.
Extended abstract
In today's complex educational environment, schools are facing increasing challenges. What can be helpful in accompanying the changes are teachers, their ideas, and their thoughts (Zhang & et al, 2021). In fact, schools, in order to respond to these ever-increasing changes, are forced to become a learning organization (Kools & et al, 2020) and during this paradigm shift, teachers should be more involved with work environment issues in line with overall school reforms (Shahid & Din, 2021). The involvement of teachers and the expression of ideas, concerns and suggestions about work-related issues with the aim of improving the work unit or organization is their voice behavior (Morrison, 2011). In developing countries, the concept of employee voice is a relatively new concept and not much research has been done on it (Emelifeonwu & Valk, 2019) and the need to investigate it is inevitable. On the other hand, it is worth mentioning that the activity, participation and involvement of teachers with school affairs can improve the quality of education (Ghasemian & et al, 2020) and what is needed in this regard is the appropriate leadership style and the creation of an atmosphere full of psychological security (Duan & et al, 2017; Kessel & et al, 2012) that can help to realize the organizational voice of teachers. Reviewing the research literature shows that a suitable style of leadership supportive of open communication in the organization can lead to the promotion of a sense of psychological security in the organization, and when the workforce reaches the understanding that expressing their opinions and ideas will not be faced with a negative reaction by the organization, silence will no longer be their preference, because leadership is the main factor that develops psychological security in the organization (Nembhard & Edmondson, 2006) and there is a positive relationship between ethical leadership and psychological security (Walumbwa & Schaubroeck, 2009).
Based on the above arguments, the current research seeks to investigate the effect of perceived ethical leadership style on teachers' voice behavior with the mediating role of psychological security.
Theoretical Framework
The leaders of the organization have a fundamental role in encouraging employees to express their thoughts. Authoritarian leadership cannot be a good predictor of employee voice (Li & Sun, 2015). But with their positive behaviors, ethical leaders provide the context for sound behavior. Ethical leadership is presented by Brown & et al (2005) and is defined as the manifestation of normatively appropriate behaviors through personal actions and interpersonal relationships and the promotion of such behavior in followers through mutual communication. Normatively, the term appropriate behavior expresses the moral element of ethical leaders who have personality traits such as responsibility, trust, honesty and fairness in their behavior (Sarwar & et al, 2020). Ethical leaders value the voice of their employees and create the environment for it to happen (Brown & et al, 2005). Voice behavior includes discussing problems with managers, offering solutions and suggestions, voicing ideas for changing a work policy, or consulting with unions or organizational professionals (Travis & et al, 2011). The voice behavior of teachers facilitates the improvement of school status, increases the effectiveness of educational decisions, and accelerates the interpersonal communication of teachers (Zhang & et al, 2021).
Ethical leaders convey high moral standards to their employees and encourage them to express their opinions and ideas not only on ethical issues but also on any other issues related to work and the organization (Avey & et al, 2012). This sense of security in the organization is known as psychological security. Gerlach & Gockel (2018) consider psychological security as a resource available to teachers that can be exploited for the benefit of the school, a resource that should be considered by school leadership. Psychological security is a characteristic of an atmosphere formed by trust and mutual respect (Liu & et al, 2015). In such an atmosphere, employees can easily express differences; as a result, an atmosphere full of psychological trust is created, and employees accept the risk of expressing their opinions, even if it is unpleasant, because they have come to believe that they will not be punished. Psychological security facilitates learning in school and allows people to overcome their anxiety and talk about their new information easily (Kark & ​​Carmeli, 2009). A sense of psychological security is a positive belief and is influenced by job engagement, team learning, and participation in continuous quality improvement efforts. Research results show that high levels of psychological security make employees more willing to communicate and talk (Kessel & et al, 2012).
Research Methodology
The current research was descriptive-correlative, and the statistical population included primary school teachers of Ray city in the academic year of 2022-2023 as many as 849 people, and the sample size was obtained 383 people by using Cochran's formula and stratified random sampling method. The total sample size was 383 people and about 358 questionnaires were returned. Considering that the return rate was 0.93, statistical analysis was done on 358 subjects. Three questionnaires were used to collect data: a) ethical leadership questionnaire by Brown et al (2005) in 10 items with five-point Likert scale, b) voice behavior questionnaire (Hames, 2012) in 12 items and c) psychological security questionnaire (Edmonson's, 1999) in 7 items. The reliability of the questionnaires was obtained through Cronbach's alpha coefficient of 0.88 for ethical leadership, 0.85 for voice behavior and 0.90 for psychological security. Research data’s analysis was done using Smart Pls and Spss statistical softwares at descriptive and inferential levels.
Research Finding
The descriptive findings showed that 45% of the sample group was male teachers and 55% were female. 27% had 1 to 10 years of service, 38% 11 to 20 years, and 35% had 21 to 30 years.
The results showed that the mean of ethical leadership (3.06) is slightly higher than the average (3) and the mean of voice behavior (3.23) and the psychological security of teachers (3.71) were higher than the average (3). Single sample t-test showed that these differences at the error level of 0.05are insignificant only for ethical leadership.
According to the results, the indices of Cronbach's alpha coefficient, combined reliability and mean extracted variance of all variables are relatively favorable. In the ethical leadership variable, items 8 and 10 with 0.83; in psychological security, item 1 with 0.85; and in voice behavior, encouragement and efficiency component with 0.96 had the highest weight and factor load.
The effect coefficients showed that ethical leadership with (Beta=0.74, P=0.001), psychological security with (Beta=0.134, P=0.001), and ethical leadership with (Beta= 0.53, P=0.001) have a positive and significant effect respectively on the voice behavior, the voice behavior of teachers, and psychological security.
Conclusion & Discussion
The results showed that the variables mean of perceived ethical leadership, voice behavior and psychological security was above average and at a relatively favorable level. The results show that ethical leadership has a positive and significant effect on teachers' organizational voice. That is, if teachers have a positive perception of the situation of organizational ethical leadership, they will show more voice behavior. This result is in line with the research results of Sagnak (2017) and Fan & et al (2022).
Also, there is a positive and significant relationship between psychological security and teachers' voice. This result is in line with research results of Sagnak (2017). The effectiveness of a leader is also shown by promoting the psychological security of the organization (Frazier & et al, 2017). When psychological security is considered in the school, teachers are given the opportunity to express their ideas and opinions, teachers and their demands receive attention and their words are given importance, even though they are different.
In addition, the mediating role of psychological security in the effect of ethical leadership on teachers' organizational voice was positive and significant. This result is in line with the research results of Shahid & Din (2021), Sagnak (2017) and Zhang & et al (2021).
Ethical leaders in schools respect teachers, value their growth and development, support them, instill confidence in teachers, and seek to build the school in cooperation with teachers. Such an atmosphere in the school is the one from which teachers perceive psychological security. This sense of psychological security is a positive belief that makes them more involved with their jobs and work environment.
In this regard and according to the results of the research, it is suggested that the managers of the organization, by using a suitable reward system encourage the employees and teachers to express their ideas and organizational problems, and their ideas and suggestions are fairly examined; to be diligent in improving the organizational communication space and involve employees in decision-making processes; use effective listening techniques in interacting with employees; and show in behavior and action that employees' information is important to them.


Avey, J. B., Wernsing, T. S., & Palanski, M. E. (2012). Exploring the process of ethical leadership: The mediating role of employee voice and psychological ownership. Journal of Business Ethics, 107; 21–34.
Behzadi, H. & Pourghorban, F. (2018). Measuring the level of student’s mental security in University of Mashhad in cyberspace, The 5th International Conference on Psychology, Education and Lifestyle, Qazvin, Iran. (Persian).
Bordovskaia, N. V., & Baeva, I. A. (2015). The psychological safety of the educational environment and the psychological well-being of Russian secondary school pupils and teachers. Psychology in Russia, 8(1); 86-99. DOI: 10.11621/pir.2015.0108.
Botero, I. C. & Dyne, L. (2009). Employee voice behavior: Interactive effects of LMX and power distance in the United States and Colombia. Management Communication Quarterly, 23(1); 84-104.
Brown, M. E., Trevino, L. K., & Harrison, D. A. (2005). Ethical leadership: A social learning perspective for construct development and testing. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 97; 117–134.
Brown, M. E., & Treviño, L. K. (2006). Ethical leadership: A review and future directions. The Leadership Quarterly, 17(6); 595-616.
Butler, D. S., & Whiting, S. W. (2019). Perspectives on employee voice: A primer for managers. The Psychologist-Manager Journal, 22(3-4); 154–167.
Carvalho, L., & Goodyear, P. (2018). Design, learning networks and service innovation. Design Studies, 55; 27–53.
Dehghani, H., & Ebrahimi, H. (2019). Studying the feeling of social and psychological security with a tendency toward superstition, Strategic Research on Social Problems in Iran, 8(4); 99-122. 10.22108/srspi.2020.118235.1435. (Persian).
Detert, J. R. & Burris, E. R. (2007). Leadership behavior and employee voice: is the door really open? Academy of Management Journal, 50 (4); 869–884.
Duan,J., Li, C., Xu, Y. & Wu, H. (2017). Transformational leadership and employee voice behavior: a Pygmalion mechanism. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 38, 5; 650–670.
Edmondson, A. (1999). Psychological safety and learning behavior in work teams. Journal of Administrative Science Quarterly, 44; 350-383.
Emelifeonwu, J. C., & Valk, R. (2019). Employee voice and silence in multinational corporations in the mobile telecommunications industry in Nigeria. Employee Relations, 41(1); 228–252. 10.1108/ER-04-2017-0073.
Fan, P., Liu Y., Liu, H. & Hou, M. (2022). The multilevel influence of supervisor helping behavior on employee voice behavior: A moderated mediation model. Frontiers in Psychology. 13; 1-11.
Frazier, M. L., Fainshmidt, S., Klinger, R. L., Pezeshkan, A., & Vracheva, V. (2017). Psychological safety: a meta-analytic review and extension. Pers. Psychol. 70; 113–165. doi:
Foroghi, F. (2021). Predicting teachers' organizational voice based on ethical leadership mediated by ethical culture. Applied Educational Leadership, 1(4); 81-92. (Persian).
Ghasemian, Z., Aminbeidokhti, A., & Jafari, S. (2020). Structural relationship of knowledge sharing with effectiveness of school educational groups: mediating role of in-group trust and intra-group collaboration. Journal of School Administration, 8(2); 1-22. 20.1001.1.25384724.2020. (Persian).
Gerlach, R. & Gockel, C. (2017). We belong together: belonging to the principal’s in-group protects teachers from the negative effects of task conflict on psychological safety, School Leadership & Management.
Gu, Q., Tang, T. & Jiang, W. (2015). Does moral leadership enhance employee creativity? Employee identification with leader and leader–member exchange (lmx) in the Chinese context. J Bus Ethics; 126, 513–529. DOI: 10.1007/s10551-013-1967-9.
Hames, K. M. (2012). Employees’ voice climate perceptions and perceived importance of voice behavior: links with important work-related outcomes. Thesis of Bachelor of Psychology (Honors), Murdoch University.
Heffernan, M., & Dundon, T. (2015). The role of front line managers in employee voice: A social exchange perspective. 17th International Labour and Employment Relations Association (ILERA) Congress Cape Town, 07-SEP-15-11- SEP-15.
Heidari, N., Rezaei, B. & Safari, Y. (2015). Relationship between dimensions of social capital and organizational Voices of staff employees at Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences. Research on Educational Leadership and Management, 2(6), 123-177. DOI: 10.14419/ijet.v7i2.13.12675 (Persian).
Higgins, M., Ishimaru, A., Holcombe, R., & Fowler, A. (2012). Examining organizational learning in schools. The role of psychological safety, experimentation, and leadership that reinforces learning. Journal of Educational Change, 13, 67–94. DOI: 10.1007/s10833-011-9167-9.
Hornyák, A. (2021). Innovation in education. The Hungarian Educational Research Journal, 11(3); 336-337. DOI:
Jha, N., Potnuru, R. K. G., Sareen, P. & Shaju, S. (2019). Employee voice, engagement and organizational effectiveness: a mediated model. European Journal of Training and Development. 9 (3); 242-258.
Jafari, M., hamidifar, F., & shirzad kubria, B. (2022). The relationship between ethical leadership and teachers' performance and job self-efficacy (Case study: teachers of the first year of high school in Tehran 9th district Education Office). The Journal of Modern Thoughts in Education, 17(2); 17-29. 20.1001.1.2821059.1401. (Persian).
Jin, X; Qing, C. & Jin, S. (2022). Ethical leadership and innovative behavior: mediating role of voice behavior and moderated mediation role of psychological safety. Sustainability, 14(9); 5125. DOI: 10.3390/su14095125.
Kark, R., & Carmeli, A. (2009). Alive and creating: The mediating role of vitality and aliveness in the relationship between psychological safety and creative work involvement. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 30; 785–804.
Kessel, M., Kratzer, J., & Schultz, C. (2012). Psychological safety, knowledge sharing, and creative performance in healthcare teams. Creativity and Innovation Management, 21(2); 147-157.
Kools, M., Stoll, L., George, B., Steijn, B., Bekkers, M. & Gouedard, P. (2020). The school as a learning organization: The concept and its measurement. European Journal of Education, 55; 24-42.
Kruzich, J. M., Mienko, J. A., & Courtney, M. E. (2014). Individual and work group influences on turnover intention among public child welfare workers: The effects of work group psychological safety. Children and Youth Services Review, 42; 20-27. DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2014.03.005.
Li, Y., & Sun, J. M. (2015). Traditional chines leadership and employee voice behavior: A cross level examination. The Leadership Quarterly, 26; 172–189.
Liu Ve. S. & Hallinger, P. (2018). Principal instructional leadership, teacher self-efficacy, and teacher professional learning in China: Testing a mediated-effects model, Educational Administration Quarterly, 54 (4); 501-528.
Liu, S., Liao, J., & Wei, H. (2015). Authentic leadership and whistleblowing: Mediating roles of psychological safety and personal identification. Journal of Business Ethics, 131; 107–119.
Mir Kamali, S. M. A., & Karami, M. R. (2016). Study of relation between ethic leadership perception of managers and personnel performance. Journal of Development & Evolution Management, 24; 11-22. (Persian).
Morrison, E. W. (2011). Employee voice behavior: Integration and directions for future research. Academy of Management Annals, 5(1): 373–412.
Nembhard, I. M., & Edmondson, A. C. (2006). Making it safe: The effects of leader inclusiveness and professional status on psychological safety and improvement efforts in health care teams. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 27(7); 941-966.
Nechanska, E., Hughes, E., & Dundon, T. (2020). Towards an integration of employee voice and silence. Human Resource Management Review, 30(1); 51-67.
Neves, P., Almeida, P., & Velez, M. J. (2018). Reducing intentions to resist future change: Combined effects of commitment based HR practices and ethical leadership. Human Resource Management, 57(1); 249-261.
Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: theory and practice (6th Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Piccolo, R. F., Greenbaum, R., Den Hartog, D. N., & Folger, R. (2010). The relationship between ethical leadership and core job characteristics. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 31; 259–278.
Qi, Y., & Ming-Xia, L. (2014). Ethical leadership, organizational identification and employee voice: Examining moderated mediation process in Chinese insurance industry. Asia Pacific Business Review, 20(2); 231–248.
Ramrodi, M., Mihan Doust, M., & Bakht, M. (2022). The effect of job security on organizational maturity through knowledge sharing mediation (Case study: University of Kurdistan). Management and Educational Perspective, 4(2); 21-39. doi: 10.22034/jmep.2022.334928.1107. (Persian).
Ran, Y., & Zhou, H. (2020). Customer–company identification as the enabler of customer voice behavior: how does it happen? Frontiers in Psychology, 11: 777.
Rasregar, A., & Fotovat, B. (2020). The effect of relationship-oriented leadership style on organizational voice of employees considering the mediating role of organizational climate, Management Studies in Development and Evolution, 29(96); 149-168. (Persian).
Rowe, W. G. & Guerrero, L. (2013). Cases in leadership, 3rd Edition, Sage.
Sağnak, M. (2017). Ethical leadership and teachers’ voice behavior: The mediating roles of ethical culture and psychological safety. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 17; 1101–1117. DOI 10.12738/estp.2017.4.0113.
Salman, K., Awan, H. & Habib, N. (2020). Link between employee voice and organizational citizenship behavior: moderating role of psychological safety. International Review of Management and Business Research. 9(3); 242-258.
Sarwar, H., Ishaq, M. I., Amin, A., & Ahmed, R. (2020). Ethical leadership, work engagement, employees’ well-being, and performance: a cross-cultural comparison. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 1-19.
Shafizadeh, H., & Eslami, F. (2016). The relationship between administrators' ethical leadership with quality of working life from the perspective of teachers. Journal of Cultural Management, 10(3); 109-122. (Persian).
Shahid, S. & Din, M. (2021). Fostering psychological safety in teachers: the role of school leadership, team effectiveness & organizational culture. International Journal of Educational Leadership and Management. 9 (2); 122-149. doi: 10.17583/ijelm.2021.6317.
Shen, Y., Todd, J., Cody, D., Denghua, Y., Lei, Z., Yunlai, D., & Qinglin, Z. (2014). Linking perceived organizational support with employee work outcomes in a Chinese context: organizational identification as a mediator. European Management Journal. 32; 406–412. DOI: 10.1016/j.emj.2013.08.004.
Tedone, A. M., & Bruk-Lee, V. (2021). Speaking up at work: personality’s influence on employee voice behavior. Int. J. Organ. Anal. 30; 289–304. doi: 10.1108/IJOA-09-2020-2417.
Travis, D. J., Gomez, R. J., & Mor Barak, M. E. (2011). Speaking up and stepping back: Examining the link between employee voice and job neglect. Children and Youth Services Review, 33; 46-68.
Walumbwa, F. O., & Schaubroeck, J. (2009). Leader personality traits and employee voice behavior: Mediating role of ethical leadership and work group psychological safety. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94(5); 1275–1286.
Zhang, S., Bowers, A. J., & Mao, Y. (2021). Authentic leadership and teachers’ voice behavior: The mediating role of psychological empowerment and moderating role of interpersonal trust. Educational Management Administration & Leadership49(5); 768– 786.