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To run a successful business you need to find your management style. Take a deep dive into the democratic leadership style to see if it's right for you.

How effective is a democratic leadership style?

All leaders aim to motivate their subordinates to work together to achieve their vision, and they frequently inject the organization with their personalities. Some leadership styles are more suited to certain types of workplaces.

If you work in a sector that benefits from open dialogue and sharing of ideas, you might be interested in learning more about the democratic leadership style. Here, I investigate the effectiveness of this leadership style based on its characteristics, pros and cons, and real-world examples.

What Is a Democratic Leadership Style?

Democratic leadership, also referred to as participative leadership, involves many individuals in the decision-making process. Democratic leadership can find this form of leadership in various settings, including corporations, schools, and governments.

Democratic leadership is a type of leadership that encourages everyone on a team to play a more active role in decision-making. Employees gather to discuss and address issues, with everyone having an opportunity to participate in decision-making. Researchers have noted that this learning method is generally one of the most effective, leading to greater productivity, more contributions from team members, and enhanced group morale.

Leading with a democratic leadership style encourages everyone on the team to engage in the conversation, share their thoughts, and have open discussions.  The democratic leader combines input from the group to arrive at a decision and then conveys it to the team.  A democratic leader supports their subordinates in setting goals, assessing their performance, and achieving personal and professional growth.

A real-world example of democratic leaders is consultants. A consultant’s role is to examine problems and come up with solutions. It necessitates a thorough examination that can profit from many dialogues and collaborations.

All stakeholders must give their input to the consultant to provide the best recommendations. To come up with the best ideas, they take information from all stakeholders at all levels before making a recommendation. It is how all democratic leaders work.

An example of this would be the Former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. He could bring conflicting parties together on the discussion table to have a dialogue and develop a solution agreeable to all concerned.

The Characteristics of a Democratic Leader

Democratic leadership is one of the types of leadership that encourages everyone to participate equally in the decision-making process. This type of leadership stimulates conversation and allows everyone to participate, share ideas, and have their voices heard. However, the leader must continue to provide advice and direction to ensure the execution of aims and objectives. The following are 5 characteristics that define a democratic leadership style.

  • They Encourage Participation and Collaboration

Democratic leadership encourages followers to participate in the decision-making process more actively. This leadership style also encourages individual honesty, impartiality, competency, and bravery in sharing opinions.

Team members feel more valuable by cultivating feelings of involvement and inclusiveness. They feel more appreciated and immersed in an organization when others genuinely listen and hear their problems and provide solutions.

  • They Encourage Free Flow of Ideas

While the democratic leader is concerned that workers feel involved, they sincerely seek out their ideas to make informed choices. Input is a valuable resource that should flow freely.

This input comes from drawing on a larger pool of opinion and experience. The free flow of ideas, bolstered by various perspectives representing the team’s diversity, results in better conclusions.

  • They Inspire Trust and Respect

Democratic leaders must create long-term connections with employees to feel comfortable sharing ideas and trust that others will take them seriously. Democratic leaders, unlike transactional or authoritarian leaders, look beyond efficiency and results when dealing with employees.

  • They Emphasize Morality and Values

Democratic leaders have a value and ethics-based belief system. They believe that every person has the right to be heard, and exchanges should facilitate for the greater good of everyone.

  • They Have an Honest and Open Mind

When dealing with conflicting viewpoints, Democratic leaders also make it a point to have an open mind. They do not always approve of others’ views, but they will listen and consider what they have to say to take something from it.

Pros and Cons of a Democratic Leader

The primary advantage of democratic leadership is that more views and opinions result in better workable solutions since every stakeholder is involved in the discussion. However, the democratic leadership style has a few downsides as well. The following are the pros and cons of a democratic leadership style.

Pros

  • This leadership style fosters active participation and input, both of which boost employee morale and productivity.
  • Leaders receive valuable feedback from frontline personnel or those who have a better grip on a decision than they do, as well as other senior leaders. Getting feedback increases the odds that democratic leaders will make decisions that benefit the most majority of people.
  • The free flow of ideas fosters an atmosphere in which employees are comfortable sharing their thoughts and ambitions for the organization.

Cons

  • Since so many people are engaged in the decision-making process, it will most likely take longer to reach a decision. This kind of slow-rolling may stifle productivity or annoy the staff.
  • Because these leaders hear other people’s ideas, it will be tough to decide without consulting employees or fellow leaders, which can be a problem in an emergency or crisis.
  • There is an expectation amongst employees that they will implement their proposal because they took out the time to share their feedback and ideas. Listening to feedback implies that democratic leaders will have to make difficult choices about adopting suggestions and notify others about rejecting their ideas. Those whose plans are not adopted may experience negative emotions, which is never a good thing

Final Word

There are numerous advantages to democratic leadership. I have talked about how it may promote trust, strengthen relationships, emphasize good values like honesty, and visibly impact morale. Look around, and you will almost certainly witness democratic leadership in practice. If the democratic leadership style resonates with you, I suggest you start putting it to practice right away. It will serve you well!

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