Want to learn about Lewin’s democratic leadership style? In this post, we deep dive into what is democratic leadership, its characteristics, examples and more.
Democratic leadership or participative leadership or shared leadership is a leadership style that involves equal participation of each member in the decision-making process. Democratic leadership not only includes the leaders but their employees as well in the decision making process. In this blog, we will learn more about democratic leadership.
Also read: 21 irrefutable laws of leadership
Lewin’s leadership styles
Lewin’s leadership styles are authoritarian (autocratic), participative (democratic style), and delegative (laissez-faire). These three leadership styles provided a springboard for more defined leadership theories. Let us have a look at these leadership styles in more detail:
1. Authoritarian leadership style
Authoritarian leaders or autocratic leaders are the ones who set clear expectations for what needs to be done when it should be done, and how it should be done.
2. Democratic leadership style
Democratic leaders take input from the entire group while making any decisions.
3. Delegative leadership style
Delegative leaders offer little to no guidance to the group and leave the decision-making to the group members.
Also read: 5 Levels of leadership by John Maxwell
Democratic leadership definition
Let us understand what is democratic leadership? Democratic leadership or participatory leadership is one of the most effective types of leadership. Under this kind of leadership, democrat leaders offer guidance to their group members and allow them to provide input while making decisions. In democrat leadership, participation of group members is highly encouraged but the final say in the decision-making process remains with the leader.
The participative style of leadership makes group members feel engaged in the process and stay more motivated and creative. Democratic leaders make followers feel an important part of the team and foster long time commitment.
Characteristics of democratic leaders
Democratic leadership styles involve taking all opinions and ideas into consideration, making a decision based on group members inputs, and delegating out the tasks equally. Democratic leaders’ definition states that they will put great emphasis on involving everyone during the decision-making process. Here are top characteristics of democratic leaders:
1. Participative leadership encourages collaboration
Democratic leadership encourages the group members to take a more participatory role during the decision-making process. The inputs from team members are highly valued and taken into consideration while making new decisions. Democratic companies create an environment of honesty, fairness, equality, and competence for their employees.
2. Democratic leadership style values creativity
Under the participatory leadership style, leaders highly value and encourage the creativity of the group members. The team members feel important and heard under such leadership. Such an environment is great for the team during the problem-solving process and for finding the best alternatives for making decisions.
3. Participating style of leadership has trusting followers
Participating style of leadership or democratic leadership provides leaders the ability to gain trust of their followers. Democratic leaders are generally admired and respected by their group members. They feel valued and important, trust their leaders to make the right decisions, and listen to them.
4. Participating leadership style offers help and guidance
Participating leadership styles in business often have leaders who are ready to offer guidance to their team members. The leader is often friendly, approachable, and trustworthy. A democratic leader works towards the betterment of its team and helps team members realize their own potential.
5. Democratic leader seeks ideas and opinions
Democratic leadership is considered to be one of the best leadership styles in management. A democratic leader often encourages employees to communicate and share their ideas and opinions. Any decision taken by the democratic leader takes the inputs of its employees into consideration.
Pros and cons of democratic leadership
There are both pros and cons of adopting democratic leadership style.
Here are the advantages of democratic leadership:
- Multiple opinions – As everyone is encouraged to speak their minds, there are multiple opinions resulting in more knowledge.
- Less Absenteeism – Employees who are more committed to the team are more likely to show up everyday
- More room for creativity and innovation – Due to open discussion, creativity is highly encouraged under democratic leadership
- Trust based relationships – The feeling of trust is more as employee and management has equal decision making powers
- Higher productivity – Employees feel more motivated and committed as they are involved in the decision-making process
Here are the disadvantages of democratic leadership:
- Decreased performance – Few employees observe a decline in performance as they are not keen to be part of the decision making process. They feel they are made to perform leadership roles at a lower salary.
- Slow decision making process – As democratic leadership requires everyone’s input, the decision making process gets slower. It can be detrimental to business where quick decision-making is required.
- Not effective in case of uneducated employees – There is a risk of relying on different knowledge levels in case of democratic leadership.
Democratic leadership examples
Democratic leaders exhibit high-level self-confidence and to counter their great amount of responsibilities, they are not hesitant to involve their team in the decision-making process. To understand how democratic leadership has helped businesses and management to grow better, let us take a look at the following examples:
1. Participative leadership style in Apple
Tim Cook had a democratic leadership style that allowed the talents of every employee at Apple to contribute towards the company’s success. He took others’ views and opinions into consideration before making a decision. Cook encouraged employees to voice their opinions and ideas regarding the design and features of new products.
2. Democratic leadership style examples in football
Legendary football coach, Bill Shankly was a democratic leader who was the one to establish the club’s iconic “boot room”. The boot room was a small area where all coaching staff members would gather to informally discuss the vision, plans, and future strategies of the club.
3. Participative management style of Twitter
Twitter is an example of a participative management style where even users are involved in the decision-making process. Users are free to spread their ideas and suggestions and express their views on the strategies of the company. All “tweeters” collaborate, participate, and somehow play a role in leading the company.
4. Democratic management style of Google
Google is known for its democratic management style where employees play an important role in making company decisions. Google is known for its creativity and innovation. It can be extremely effective in situations that call for creative ideas and solutions and time is not a constraint.
5. Examples of democratic leadership with millennial workforce
In recent times, the millennial workforce wants to work with managers and leaders who value their ideas and opinions. They thrive in an environment where managers are interested in investing in employees’ growth. A democratic leadership style is more likely to keep employees engaged and loyal.
How to implement democratic style of leadership in your team?
There are several factors that go into democratic style of leadership. These factors will help you begin implementing democratic leadership style in your own organization. Let us discuss five of these factors to understand what goes behind implementing democratic leadership.
1. Encourage creativity in participative leadership styles
Encourage creativity to implement democratic leadership style in your organization. Give more preference to innovation and creativity by giving team members a fair chance to communicate. Take opinions from the entire team while taking decisions regarding new products, services, rules, features, and policies.
2. Democratic leadership style examples value participation
Value participation and involvement from all members of the team rather than having a leader dole out orders. Give people at all levels of the organizational hierarchy an opportunity to share their ideas and opinions. Shun top-down directions and let information flow vertically and horizontally.
3. Democratic management style seeks ideas and opinions
Seek ideas and opinions from your team members irrespective of their designation and role to ensure proper implementation of democratic leadership style. Allowing employees to share opinions and ideas foster long term commitment and relationships. Employees should be involved during important decision-making processes.
4. Participative management styles allows inputs from everyone
To implement this style in your team ensure that the input is not only reserved for people with higher positions but taken from everyone. Allow staff to give their suggestions and opinions on areas that are within their scope of work and outside of it.
5. Stay approachable in democratic leadership style in nursing
Leaders and managers must stay friendly, amicable, and approachable so that employees working with them feel free to communicate. To implement democratic leadership in an organization, leaders and managers must be trained to include team members and staff during all-important decision-making processes.
Famous democratic leaders
Here are some of the examples of democratic leaders who took responsibility for their actions, supported their team, and didn’t make excuses for their failures:
1. George Washington
George Washington was notably democratic while leading the U.S government. He showed strong signs of democratic leadership by appointing strong leaders to his staff.
2. Abraham Lincoln
Was Abraham Lincoln a democratic leader, is something many people still question. His character and principles were democratic but his leadership was autocratic throughout his presidency.
3. John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy was a charismatic leader who showed signs of both democratic leadership and Laissez-Faire leadership. Spearheading the Apollo space program was an example of his Laissez-Faire leadership style.
4. Jimmy Carter
Carter exemplified both pros and cons of the democratic style of leadership. He surrounded himself with experienced staff but often deferred to inexperienced subordinates.
5. Thomas Jefferson
During his tenure, Jefferson was both a democratic and autocratic leader.
Autocratic vs democratic leadership style
Have a look at the key differences between autocratic and democratic leadership styles:
- Autocratic leadership is the kind of leadership where the leader has the absolute power of commanding and decision-making while in democratic leadership, the leader seeks and values the opinions of their followers
- Autocratic leadership involves high-level of control whereas democratic leadership requires low level of control
- There is a certain level of independence in thinking and communicating in democratic leadership, which is not present in the case of autocratic leadership.
- Autocratic leadership is task-oriented while democratic leadership is more relation oriented.
Megha is a content writer with sharp technical skills, owing to her past experience in networking and telecom domains. She focuses on various topics including productivity, remote work, people management, technology, market trends, and workspace collaboration.