The democratic leadership style, also known as participative leadership, is mainly based on mutual respect and the participation of all the people with a shared goal.
Collaboration between the leaders and the team
All definitions of democratic leadership revolve around collaboration between the leaders and the team members. For example, Professor John Gastil of the University of Pennsylvania defines this style of leadership as “the distribution of responsibility among members, promoting the process of decision-making within the group”.
The common idea of all definitions is the emphasis on the sense of “team”, in which the important thing is “sharing” and “distributing” the responsibilities and successes derived from achieving the objectives.
Participation in decision making
Democratic leaders have a high level of self-confidence, and to counter their great amount of responsibilities, they involve their team in decision-making processes. In other words, democratic leaders commit to delegation and trust in collaboration when it comes to deciding.
The example of Apple
We all know about them or have tinkered with an iPhone, an iPad or a Mac, but the fact is that the technology giant Apple did not take off easily. On the contrary, it took many years of effort and the leadership of Steve Jobs, its founder, was not always “democratic”. Only when Jobs relied on his team and established a participatory management style, did Apple begin their ascent.
Epitomized today in Tim Cook, current CEO of the company, the Apple team began to grow thanks to the confidence that Jobs deposited in its members. They hired experienced and skilled people in their areas and that is how, through the delegation of responsibility, the current success of Apple was built.
You may be interested: Leadership styles from the 80s: Steve Jobs vs Bill Gates
The example of Twitter
The social network of the 140 characters is, above all, collaborative. It is not surprising, therefore, that we are including it as an example of democratic leadership because that is the way it was designed by its founders Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, Evan Williams and Noah Glass. As it happened to Apple, Twitter also took its time to fully take off.
The strength of Twitter and the feature that Dorsey and his team are most proud of is the participatory nature of this social network. All “tweeters” collaborate, participate and somehow lead the company. Users are part of the decision-making process by spreading their ideas and suggestions and expressing their views on the strategies of the company.
The example of the Oval Office
Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Eisenhower or Kennedy all were US presidents who exercised participatory leadership from the Oval Office. Charismatic and somewhat authoritarian, they led their country by trusting other people with great responsibilities.
In other words, they ruled but above all, they let their teams work. They all got surrounded by people with experience in their fields to address the crisis of their times or respond to the needs of their country. But in the White House there were also leadership behaviours you should never forget. Want to know why?
Is democratic leadership appropriate for you?
Among your responsibilities as a leader is to determine the most appropriate leadership style for your team and your company. Overall, collaborative leadership increases job satisfaction because it strengthens mutual trust between employees and leaders. In this sense, productivity can also increase as a result of a greater commitment of the team, who sees how their leader delegates responsibilities and encourages collaboration.