Employees no longer want to sit on the sidelines and do as directed. According to an article by Gartner, an increasing number of employees want to get involved in the decision-making process for their personal and professional growth. They want to feel valued, contribute, and be driven by a sense of purpose. Hence, the participative leadership style is the need of the hour—especially if businesses are keen on retaining top talent. Let’s understand what is participative leadership and how it works.
What is Participative Leadership?
Participative or collaborative leadership is a democratic leadership style of management that focuses on involving employees in the decision-making process and seeking and implementing their input. It is an inclusive approach that gives importance to each team member. Simply put, the this leadership style means encouraging employee engagement.
How Does Participatory Leadership Work
Since you have learned what is participative leadership, let’s see how it works. There are multiple theories explaining the effectiveness of participative leadership. According to the social exchange theory, it increases job prosperity and promotes team collaboration. The conservation of resources theory explains that participative leadership helps employees balance the workload and boosts organizational self-esteem. Last but not least, the social cognitive theory explains that participative leadership boosts employee efficiency and offers them a sense of job security. Overall, it increases innovation and productivity.
It should be noted that though participative leadership includes seeking the opinions of all team members, there are times when the leader must make strategic and effective decisions for the organization. Such decisions may or may not involve the interests of all the people. Hence, leaders must be very careful while implementing a participative leadership style of management at workplaces, or it may lead to indecisiveness among team members.
Categories of Participatory Leadership
In the participatory leadership style, the leader seeks input from all employees. All team members collaborate to make a decision. For instance, a marketing manager arranges a meeting for the marketing team, including marketing associates and interns, to discuss the strategy of the next campaign.
In a democratic participatory leadership, all employees participate in the decision-making process, but a majority vote decides the final decision. For example, a finance manager asks team members to vote on whether the company should invest in a new vertical.
In collective leadership, the leader and employees collectively make decisions, and the final decision is usually made in the meeting itself.
Characteristics of Participative Leadership
Here are some important characteristics to help you better understand what is participative leadership:
- Collaboration: Teamwork or collaboration is the core element of leadership, as it involves encouraging the participation of all team members
- Empowerment: This kind of leadership empowers employees by involving them in the decision-making process, encouraging and allowing them to take ownership of their work
- Open Communication: Participative leadership involves creating a free channel for employee communication that enables employees to voice their concerns and opinions without hesitation. In the modern business environment, where employees are working remotely, such leadership requires creating a virtual space where employees can share their thoughts
- Inclusiveness: It promotes inclusiveness as all employees are included in the decision-making process, regardless of their position
- Flexibility: Participative leaders are open to changing their approach and adapting to the needs of their employees
- Sharing Responsibility: Teamwork in leadership boosts efficiency and productivity as employees share responsibility
How Participative Leadership Can Change You and Your Career
Participative leadership is one of the best organizational management styles to boost a company’s culture and increase employee satisfaction. It is especially beneficial for employees as working with an organization that supports participative leadership offers security and stability. Employees are free to voice their concerns and take initiative at the workplace, giving them more accountability.
Participative leadership can offer you an excellent career path if you have a go-getter attitude and want to learn new things. It helps you step out of your comfort zone and experiment. Another way participative leadership can advance your career is by helping you build a strong professional network as you get the opportunity to collaborate with your team members and managers.
Participative Leadership: Advantages and Disadvantages
- Engaging employees in decision-making processes help companies get various perspectives, and this leads to better and quicker problem-solving
- Such leadership motivates employees, makes them feel valued at their workplaces, and increases the employee retention rate
- It also increases job satisfaction among the employees, enabling the company to attract better talent
- Involving all employees in the decision-making process can be time-consuming and tedious; it slows down the decision-making process
- This kind of leadership is difficult to implement in a hierarchical or bureaucratic organizational structure
Examples of Participative Leadership
To understand what is participative leadership better, check out these examples:
One of the best examples of a participative leader is Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft. According to him, “Leaders need to provide strategy and direction to give employees tools that enable them to gather information and insight from around the world. Leaders shouldn’t try to make every decision.”
Another famous example of a participative leader is Nelson Mandela, a civil rights advocate. According to him, “A leader is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”
In the dynamic and competitive business environment, team collaboration is one of the most crucial elements for organizational growth. Hence, this type of leadership is increasingly becoming a preferred management style. You can learn more about what is participative leadership and other leadership styles by opting for these online leadership courses by Emeritus.
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