The democratic leadership style is a more unique form of leadership that can be adopted by leaders.
In democratic leadership, the leader delegates the decision making to the team and confer the final authority of the decision making to them, instead of making the decision himself.
It works very much like direct democracy. (Read more about direct democracy on Wikipedia) Citizens will vote and decide on major issues, rather than have a leader decide for them.
In the team, members will vote and decide on the course of action instead of having the leader give a top-down directive.
The democratic leadership style has its advantages. It is useful when:
- Your team has greater knowledge than you in a particular area
- It is important to you that everyone feels heard
One good example of it would be Bill Gates, where he spends his time communicating with his information technology specialists about how the new products he makes can be woven into the industry standard products.(Schlender 2002)
Despite him being an IT whiz, he still does not know it all and he needs to communicate constantly and get feedback from them about how he can bring products to market.
Such an approach can bring out the best in your team members. Because they know that they have full power over the final decisions; they are far more motivated to see it through.
Also, you will be seen as empowering and encouraging of their efforts and valuing their individual inputs. As such, most people enjoy such a leadership style.
Facilitating Democratic Leadership
You need to give your team members ALL the necessary information before you can send them off on a discussion. The context, the material facts and people involved all need to be told to them from the start so that they can make an informed decision.
Next, tell them the objective of the discussion and the decision to be made by the end of the session.
You can leave them with some questions to start them off, but after that, you can give your team the space and time to think and discuss before giving you their collective decision.
Is the Democratic Leadership Style for you?
You need to be extremely secure as a leader in order to pull this off. This is because you are delegating the decision to your team, and yet remain accountable for the outcomes of the decision.
Even when final decisions are not to your liking, you need to allow your team to carry forward with the plan they deem best based on their collective wisdom.
Other Theories of Types of Leadership
» Servant leadership
Servant leadership is not so much a style, but an attitude that a leader adopts. It finds its roots in the Bible.
» Strategic leadership
One would find strategic leadership in business organizations where change management is required and a strategic vision is necessary for the business to grow.
» Autocratic Leadership
An autocratic leadership style is somewhat like a directive leadership style; but autocratic leaders are generally more task oriented. They expect their task to be done and they do not consider their follower’s feelings in their decision-making.