Advantages and disadvantages of democratic leadership style
This is a comprehensive article that addresses some of the advantages and disadvantages of democratic leadership style. It also touches on the definitions of democratic leadership style and provides the readers with some real-life examples.
Definitions of democratic leadership style
Democratic leadership is also called shared or participative leadership. According to Carlin (2019) this style of leadership balances decision-making responsibility between the group and the leader. Leaders actively participate in discussions and ensure that the views of others are heard well.
With this style, leaders share the decision-making abilities with group members by promoting the interests of the group members and by practicing social equality (Foster, 2002).
This is a very open leadership style. Leaders include group members in the decision-making process and encourage them to share their ideas and opinions. However, the leaders make the final decisions.
Advantages of democratic leadership style
Democratic leadership style is good and indeed a key to building and maintaining a positive, inclusive, and collaborative work environment. Likewise, a good democratic leader can bring out the team’s creativity (Carlin, 2019).
This leadership style makes team members dedicated to the plans and decisions. They are willing to overcome or work around barriers to implement the decisions taken.
Though the leader still retains final responsibility for the group’s decision, the idea of shared accountability and larger involvement of the whole team has made democratic style a good choice for many CEOs and employees alike around the world. This style contributes to higher levels of employee productivity and insightful inputs as everyone is urged to utilise their strengths which can benefit the whole team.
Democratic leadership style works exceptionally well when the group has enough time to make and implement decisions. Democratic leaders are sincere and make selections primarily based on their values. Followers are inclined to really feel inspired to contribute to the group building process and activities.
Differing views and perspectives are important for organisations to face the challenges of the macro environment as a set decision may not be the solutions for multifaceted problems. Likewise, different people are good at different things. By giving each team member an opportunity to bring their personal capabilities and preferences to the conversation, organisations can expand their knowledge base.
Disadvantages of democratic leadership style
Procrastination is a problem. Compared to other styles, it may take more time to reach a consensus with democratic leadership style as every idea needs to be screened and discussed comprehensively.
Since everyone can voice out their ideas, the roles and objectives of the team can sometimes be unclear to some members. Similarly, not all members are geared up to make the most effective contributions due to a lack of knowledge, skills, experience, and expertise.
The time taken by an organisation facing an emergency to seek suggestions from everyone involved turns into a hindrance because it increases the delay in communication and resource allocation. Even leaders who are entrusted with making a direct alternative in the situation, may feel uncomfortable doing so because they are so used to involving the entire team in the decision-making process.
A democratic leader can sometimes become overly dependent on the group or hidden throughout the group exercise, permitting the group to make the ultimate choices. This can result in decisions being made which are not consistent with the mission and vision of the organisation, or unable to serve its best interests.
Because of the nature of inclusivity, democratic leaders need to be strong to lead discussions and supervise employees (BBC, 2021). A weak leader may be challenged unnecessarily by the team members.
Examples of democratic leaders
Democratic leadership style has been adopted by many leaders and organisations around the world. Companies such as Google and Amazon are democratic in some of their operations. Executives and CEOs like Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Indra Nooyi, Bill George, Muhtar Kent, and Jack Dorsey have all adopted democratic leadership style. Late Steve Jobs (Co-founder of Apple) applied both democratic and autocratic styles in different phases of his career.
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Last update: 09 July 2021
Attner, R. and Plunkett, W. (1994) Introduction to management, 5th edition, California: Wadsworth, Inc.
BBC (2021) Motivation and leadership, available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zkt8xyc/revision/5 (accessed 04 July 2021)
Carlin, D. (2019) Democratic, Authoritarian, Laissez-Faire: What Type Of Leader Are You?, https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidcarlin/2019/10/18/democratic-authoritarian-laissez-faire-what-type-of-leader-are-you/?sh=178335b22a6b (accessed 05 July 2021)
Foster, D. E. (2002) A Method of Comparing Follower Satisfaction with the Authoritarian, Democratic, and Laissez-faire Styles of Leadership, Communication Teacher, 16 (2): 4–6
Author: M Rahman
M Rahman writes extensively online and offline with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He holds an MSc in Tourism & Hospitality from the University of Sunderland. Also, graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a BA in Business & Management Studies and completed a DTLLS (Diploma in Teaching in the Life-Long Learning Sector) from London South Bank University.