The democratic leadership style is a very open and collegial style of running a team. Ideas move freely amongst the group and are discussed openly. Everyone is given a seat at the table, and discussion is relatively free-flowing.
This style is needed in dynamic and rapidly changing environments where very little can be taken as a constant. In these fast moving organizations, every option for improvement has to be considered to keep the group from falling out of date.
The democratic leadership style means facilitating the conversation, encouraging people to share their ideas, and then synthesizing all the available information into the best possible decision. The democratic leader must also be able to communicate that decision back to the group to bring unity the plan is chosen.
When situations change frequently, democratic leadership offers a great deal of flexibility to adapt to better ways of doing things. Unfortunately, it is also somewhat slow to make a decision in this structure, so while it may embrace newer and better methods; it might not do so very quickly.
Democratic leadership style can bring the best out of an experienced and professional team. It capitalizes on their skills and talents by letting them share their views, rather than simply expecting them to conform.
If a decision is very complex and broad, it is important to have the different areas of expertise represented and contributing input – this is where democratic leader shines.
Creative groups (advertising, design):Â ideas need to flow in creative environments to find create new concepts and designs.
Consulting:Â when paid to explore problems and find solutions, your role will be to explore the possibilities in depth, and that means there has to be a great deal of exploration and open discussion.
Much of the Service industry:Â new ideas allow for more flexibility to changing customer demands.
Education:Â few places need to be open to different ideas than education, both by educators and their students.
Keep communication open:Â If the marketplace of ideas is going to be open for business, everyone needs to feel comfortable enough to put their ideas on the table. The democratic leadership style thrives when all the considerations are laid out for everyone to examine.
Focus the discussion:Â It’s hard to keep unstructured discussion productive. It’s the leader’s job to balance being open to ideas and keeping everything on-topic. If the conversation begins to stray, remind everyone of the goal on hand and then steer it back. Make sure to take note of off-topic comments and try to return to them when they are pertinent.
Be ready to commit:Â In the democratic leadership style, you get presented with so many possibilities and suggestions that it can be overwhelming and difficult to commit. But as the leader, when the time comes, you have to choose and do so with conviction. The team depends on the clear and unambiguous mandates to be committed.
Respect the ideas:Â You and your team might not agree with every idea, and that’s ok. It is important, however, that you create a healthy environment where those ideas are entertained and considered –not maligned– or the flow of ideas will slow to a trickle.
Explain, but don’t apologize:Â You want the advocates of the solutions that were not selected to understand that their thoughts were considered and had validity, but that ultimately you had strong reasons to go a different direction. It’s important that the decision be communicated, but you should not apologize for deciding on what you think.
Under democratic leadership, the people have a more participatory role in the decision making process. One person retains final say over all decisions but allows others to share insight and ideas.
This is often a highly effective form of leadership. People are more likely to excel in their positions and develop more skills when they feel empowered, and people are empowered when they are involved in the decision-making process.
Although it may take some time to achieve full participation from a group, the end result will be rewarding if you can manage to establish a power-sharing environment in your group project. You will find that democratic practices often lead to a more productive and higher quality work group.
Examples of democratic leadership:
Asking all group members for ideas and input.
Voting on the best course of action in a project.
Asking group members to work with their strengths and provide input on how to divide the work. ]li]Enabling members to work at their own pace and set their own deadlines.
Pitfalls of Democratic Leadership
It doesn’t take too much imagination to think of ways that democratic leadership could backfire during a group project. As you probably know, some members of a group will work well on their own and complete all work in a timely fashion. But there are other workers who will procrastinate-and that can lead to disaster.
If you are a natural democratic leader, it might be necessary to learn some traits of the autocratic or bureaucratic leaders and tap into them as necessary. Always have a backup plan on hand!
Democratic Leadership is the leadership style that promotes the sharing of responsibility, the exercise of delegation and continual consultation. The style has the following characteristics:Â 1.Â Manager seeks consultation on all major issues and decisions.Â 2.Â Manager effectively delegate tasks to subordinates and give them full control and responsibility for those tasks.Â 3.Â Manager welcomes feedback on the results of intiatives and the work environment.Â 4.Â Manager encourages others to become leaders and be involved in leadership development.
Positive work environment.Â A culture where junior employees are given fair amount of responsibility and are allowed to challenge themselves is one where employees are more enthused to work and enjoy what they do.Â Successful initiatives.Â The process of consultation and feedback naturally results in better decision making and more effective operations. Companies run under democratic leadership tend to run into fewer grave mistake and catastrophes. To put it simply – people tell a democraticÂ leaderÂ when something is going badly wrong, while employees are encouraged to simply hide it from an autocrat.Â Creative thinking.Â The free flow of ideas and positive work environment is the perfect catalyst for creative thinking. To further their leadership education, people often check theÂ online MBA rankingsÂ to see whether MBA online is a match for them. The benefits of this aren’t just relevant for creative industries, because creative thinking is required to solve problems in every single organisation, whatever it’s nature.Â Reduction of friction and office politics.By allowing subordinates to use their ideas and even more importantly – gain credit for them, you are neatly reducing the amount of tension employees generate with their manager. When autocratic leaders refuse to listen to their workers, or blatantly ignore their ideas, they are effectively asking for people to talk behind their back and attempt to undermine or supercede them.Â Reduced employee turnover.Â When employees feel empowered through leadership development, a company will experience lower rates of employee turnover which has numerous benefits. A company that invests in leadership development for its employees, is investing in their future, and this is appreciated by a large majority of the workforce.
Lengthy and ‘boring’ decision making.Â Seeking consultation over every decision can lead to a process so slow that it can cause opportunities to be missed, or hazards avoided too late.Â Danger of pseudo participation.Â Many managers simply pretend to follow a democratic leadership style simply to score a point in the eyes of their subordinates. Employees are quick to realise when their ideas aren’t actually valued, and that the manager is merely following procedure in asking for suggestions, but never actually implementing them. In other words, they’re simply exerting autocratic leadership in disguise.
Now you’ve heard about the benefits and drawbacks of this leadership style, let’s look at where its actually implemented in the business world.Â 1.Â Democratic leadership is applied to an extent in the manufacturing industry, to allow employees to give their ideas on how processesÂ canÂ become leaner and more efficient. While ‘Fordism’ is still applied in some factories across the country, truth is that production managers are now really starting to harness the motivational bonuses associated with not treating employees like robots anymore.Â 2.Â Democratic leadershp is effective in proffessional organisations where the emphasis is clearly on training, professional & leadership development and quality of work performed. Democratic procedures are simply just one cog in the effective leadership mechanisms firms likeÂ The Big FourÂ have created over the years.Â 3.Â Non profit organisations also tremendously benefit from drawing upon the creative energies of all their staff to bring about cost cutting techniques or fund raising ideas.Â 4.Â As previously mentioned, creative industries such as advertising and television enjoy alot of benefits from the free flow of ideas that democratic leadership brings.