Democratic (participatory) leadership

The role of leader is a very important and essential position for certain occasions. It is about having the opportunity to guide a series of people to meet a specific objective. It also means accessing a portion of power in which you have full freedom and concession to make important decisions. 

In order to carry out this task efficiently, a series of essential requirements must be met. However, you may not notice that not all forms of leadership are presented in the same way. Some people focus their efforts and objectives on achieving certain goals, but it also means making use of different resources and allowing or limiting the participation of others.

Due to the great variety of leaderships that have been identified, a distinction can also be made of the advantages and disadvantages that each one of them presents. Some consider that the ideal typology that best suits different circumstances is the one known as democratic leadership. This typology has a greater number of advantages in comparison and others.

These leaders manage to guide their work teams to achieve their corporate and personal goals and objectives. It could be said that it is possible to create a correct operation and also different methods and practices are taken into consideration. It could be considered one of the most effective leaderships, whose consequences usually show positive results. 

What is democratic or participatory leadership?

Democratic leadership is defined as one where the free participation of a community is encouraged . That is, whoever fulfills the role of leader constantly carries out actions and decisions that have been chosen taking into consideration the needs of others. Therefore, their functions are determined by their own competencies and those of other workers, together or they work to achieve the same objective.

The subordinates or workers of leaders of this type have the support and the permissiveness of being able to give their opinion and provide solutions . In the same way, democratic leaders are not limited only to giving orders, instead they encourage participation and free expression. This encourages creativity and also encourages people to commit to more responsibilities.

The word democratic has its origin in two terms from the Greek, the first of which is “demos” which refers to can and the second is “kratos” which refers to an authority or a government. Therefore, a situation is being described in which workers are taking actions and following decisions in which they have had the opportunity to participate for their election.

This is a situation that generally provides benefits for all those involved, this is because all decisions are shared, taking into account all opinions. Leaders who function in this way foster good communication and also encourage others to do so in a similar way.

Democratic leaders constantly welcome the suggestions of their subordinates, this means showing that there is mutual support. As a result, it is observed that there is a more fluid work activity , plus or conflicts are practically eradicated. In the same way, the margin of error decreases notably, which implies there will be no need to implement corrective actions.

What are its basic characteristics? 

Several outstanding characteristics can be identified, all these elements together make it possible to carry out successful leadership. The first of them is related to the main objective of this type of leader, all their efforts and actions will be subject to the participation of their team and also to the majority consensus of them when making decisions.

The value of the relationship between boss and subordinates is the most important thing during this management. Human talent is recognized as well as all the advantages of collaborating in a participatory environment. Each member of a group will be heard, known and valued for their actions.

This type of leadership allows there to be an opinion leader and the possibility of expressing any idea that is considered useful. In a reciprocal way, a feeling of gratitude and reward begins to be generated thanks to these interventions. This is how the creation of solutions that turn out to be creative and innovative happens.

The other main characteristics of this leadership classification are described below. It is important to note that most of them refer to points considered as positive , however in certain aspects some flaws may be found. They are as follows:

  • A relationship is established in which there is the capacity to listen to each other . Both bosses and subordinates show this virtue, which allows them to understand without much effort what are the contributions that others are making.
  • Leaders show charisma and are also easy to get along with and access. Other people will be able to relate in a more direct and personal way with these leaders, this means that there will be an improvement in labor relations inside and outside.
  • Both parties show empathy which means being able to put themselves in the place of the issues and understand their situation. That this is a natural ability that brings benefits in personal relationships, generating appreciation and admiration.
  • There is an opportunity to delegate certain responsibilities , this is possible because the leader trusts each of the members of his team. In addition, it shows concern for showing that same guarantee when delegating some of its functions.
  • Both the needs and aspirations of all members are taken into consideration . In the same way, the skills that each one possesses is valued .
  • The establishment of good communication is recognized , it is an effective way to achieve clarification of the objectives to be achieved. When transmitting a message , the exchange of opinions and active participation are encouraged. As a result, a cooperative environment is created that is also not competitive.
  • In some cases, problems related to the definition of the responsibilities of each position may be perceived . The establishment of a hierarchical system is the most suitable, but it is important to specify what will be the actions and decisions that are the responsibility of each member.

Some practical examples 

Various examples applied to certain professional sectors can be taken, which allow us to understand how democratic leadership works . It is also useful to take as an example the leadership carried out by some important historical figures, some presidents as well as political activists have shown to follow this model. Some of them are described below:

Nelson Mandela

This is perhaps one of the most popular examples to exemplify how democratic leadership works. His candidacy for the presidency was possible due to the high electoral turnout and also due to the massive support of the South African citizenry .

Having started his career through political activism, he would consequently live a total of 27 years in jail. During the course of this period of time, he gained the trust and also the support of people who saw in his unfavorable situation an example of the consequences of authoritarianism and racism .

Nelson Mandela is currently considered one of the most important democratic presidents of the 20th century. His contributions have not only left their mark on the African continent, they also mean setting a good example of how a well-managed presidency leaves important positive contributions for several generations.

Martin Luther King

He could be considered one of the most important political activists of his generation. Those who knew him also lived during the time in which all the social and political events in which he was involved took place, agree or affirm that he was a Democratic leader. He always had the support of a select group of colleagues in whom he placed his complete trust .

As a result, he made important advances in racial terms and also meant that he became the leader of those who sought to cement reforms in American society. Racial segregation until the decade of the years focused had been part of the daily coexistence, however its actions allowed a large part of society to be more aware of its consequences. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages? 

In the different types of things, certain elements can be identified which can be considered as positive or negative. They represent aspects of these efforts that could bring benefits , however there are also possibilities that as a result they are working with disadvantages. These are described below:

Advantages of democratic leadership

  • All workers can be integrated in a better way to the activities carried out in a company.
  • Workers will also show that they feel more comfortable with the work environment generated.
  • Professional ties are strengthened during a management of this type, resulting in greater confidence when carrying out teamwork.
  • Leaders constantly encourage people to take the initiative to make decisions and perform certain activities that concern them. Thus, reciprocity is achieved to take into account the contributions made by other people.
  • The competition and the search to stand out are discarded , change the common objective is to gather all the efforts to fulfill the same objectives.
  • In the corporate sector, the establishment of this type of leadership means that sometimes the participation of a leader can be dispensed with . This is made possible by placing confidence in the skills of the workers.
  • There is easy access to all the information required to continue with the usual functions. Therefore each individual will have all the basic knowledge necessary to be able to fulfill their tasks.

Disadvantages of democratic leadership

  • At the beginning, slowness can be perceived in the coordination of the activities that must be carried out together. This means that prior agreements must be made in order to reach a point where it is possible to start the project.
  • Those who exercise this type of leadership face difficulties in coping with failures .
  • In certain situations it is difficult to satisfy everyone equally. In certain aspects you can only achieve the objectives and give continuity to the preferences of some, this means that a part of the needs and opinions of the team could be ignored in the process.
  • Similarly, in some situations that could be placing too much trust in some members, consequently it could be occurring in the generation of errors that at first would not be easy to identify.
  • Some subordinates may be reluctant to contribute or collaborate. In these cases, it is difficult for you to change the attitude of these people.
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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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