Action Wheel Leadership

Democratic Leadership Style


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The democratic leadership style can be one of the most effective styles of leadership. This leadership style values collaboration and affirmation of followers.  

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Democratic Leadership Style

A democratic leader shares the decision-making and problem-solving responsibilities with his or her leadership team, while retaining the ultimate say in the final resolution. 

This style of leadership encourages team involvement, engagement, and participation. The performance preferences of each member are acknowledged and honored.

Environments with democratic leaders often yield followers with high morale who are more motivated to generate and offer up creative solutions, and it produces an atmosphere of cooperation and team spirit.

The democratic leadership style is also known as the "participative" leadership style because it depends on employee participation. The goal of a democratic leader is to foster employee investment in the organization by investing workers in their role in the company.

This type of leader encourages employees to set workable goals and recognizes their achievements. They develop plans with their employees to help them evaluate their own performances, and push their employees to grow on the job, while supporting them in their promotions and advancements.

This style of leadership is ideal for a leader who wishes to keep employees informed about matters that may affect them, and who want employees to participate in problem solving and decision making. It is for leaders who want to provide continual opportunities for their followers to develop a sense of personal growth and job satisfaction and for leaders who would like to encourage collaboration and team building.

Democratic leadership works well for leaders who value flexibility and adaptation. Democracy in leadership is often most effective when a leader is working with highly skilled or experienced workers. It allows the leader to capitalize on their employees' individual talents and strengths, while also benefiting from the power of the whole. It is best employed in cases where the department or business is looking to implement operational changes or when a leader or manager is attempting to resolve problems either individually or within the group.

Of course, the democratic leadership style is not always appropriate. This style should be put on the back burner when it isn't time-effective or cost-effective to collect everyone's input, or when the company is in a difficult position and it cannot afford mistakes. Moreover, there is never any room for participative leadership when employee safety is on the line. Democratic leaders keep the lines of communication open. In collaborative settings, they help to focus discussion and find the balance between being open to new ideas and keeping things productive and on track. This type of leader should respect everyone's input and ideas, but be ready to commit to a path of action with conviction and certainty. A participative leader can explain a choice or a decision that they make, but they should never apologize. 

A democratic leadership style requires a strong individual, and it's not recommended for leaders or managers who feel threatened by the flexibility and the commitment it requires. However, for those who can wield it effectively, this style of leadership can create a dynamic working environment filled with motivated employees who are eager to succeed.

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Related Links:

Leadership Models

Transactional Leadership

Transformational Leadership

Autocratic Leadership Style

Participative Leadership

Delegative Leadership Style

Authentic Action Wheel

Leadership Definition

Leadership Versus Management

Characteristics of Good Leadership

Courageous Leadership

Leadership Metaphors

Back to Styles of Leadership

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