There are many strong advantages to democratic leadership, which is one of the reasons why I have used the style in my job as a CEO of an international company. Most of the advantages of democratic leadership circle around collaboration and creativity, as you shall see.
Democratic leadership is when an empowered team fully participates in the decision-making process. Ideas and suggestions can be brought forward by any team member, and there is a strive for consensus in decision-making. In the end, the democratic leader approves or makes the decision. Democratic leadership is an effective leadership style but can sometimes be too slow when fast decisions are needed.
To understand and learn the entire concept, read our main democratic leadership article, which contains an overview, how to implement it, and loads of other information and links concerning democratic leadership.
The advantages of Democratic Leadership
Lewin et al. showed through leadership experiments in the 1930s that democratic leadership leads to more satisfied group members than the autocratic leadership style. (See Lewin Leadership Styles). Let us look at some of the advantages of democratic leadership, which can be incredibly useful for organizations of today.
1. Creativity and innovation are encouraged.
Democratic leaders value the process of generating new ideas. They appreciate that each team member has unique experiences and skills which add value to the creative process. Since they deliberately encourage idea sharing, a climate of innovation spreads in the organization. People think of how to increase productivity, make a process a bit easier, reduce errors, solve customer needs better, which new products to build, etc.
2. Collaboration creates strong solutions for complex problems.
There are times when decisions need to be made quickly. Oftentimes, autocratic leadership is preferred in those particular cases. However, when time isn’t scarce, which is in an absolute majority of the cases in the business world at least, the democratic team can come together and find the best solutions to complex problems. By utilizing multiple perspectives, experiences, attitudes, and ideas, the team can most often find robust ideas with limited downsides by working together, leading to improved decision-making. Thanks to the transparency of democratic leadership, the group clearly understands the issue, and the leader guides them toward consensus on the best way to tackle it.
3. Employee engagement is high.
The participative nature of democratic leadership creates a more positive work environment where team members are included. They work together to achieve the organization’s goals and feel that their opinions matter. This builds trust and respect among the team members, which in turn makes the work environment even better.
4. Common goals lead to high accountability
A democratic leader involves people in setting the goals and targets of the organization. In the end, this means people will feel that this is their goal and their target rather than the leaders. This strong feeling of accountability, in combination with the high empowerment in democratic leadership, normally leads to higher productivity than in Laissez-Faire leadership, for instance.
Continue reading about the democratic leadership style including examples in the workplace, some practical situations from my leadership career where I have reached some amazing results through this style, and many other things right here: Main article on Democratic Leadership.
Additional resources on Democratic Leadership
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