Democratic leadership is a leadership style which the team participants actively play roles on the decision–making processes. In a democratic leadership, participants or employees have a lot more freedom on how they operate their jobs. This type of structure in which leaders are more democratic, brings out an environment that allows employees to voice their opinions more freely. Companies which are based on innovation and developments prefer this type of leadership such as Microsoft and Google.
In comparison to autocratic leadership style, the decisions are not based solely on the manager’s perspective but the whole team. In recent years, most companies had been transforming from autocratic styles which involves high levels of hierarchy and the style of ‘’make it and sell it aggressively’’ into a more democratic way of acting for both employees and customers. They create surveys on their websites that are specifically designed to get a broader perspective on customer needs and wants. In addition, they create more flexible and democratic structures on management level.
In the 21st century, there are certain advantages on choosing a democratic leadership style in the workplace. These advantages include softening the hierarchy within a firm; therefore, allowing more freedom of speech and participation when it comes to managerial concerns. More participation on decision-making processes in the companies brings more precise, well-thought decisions. Especially in the companies which thrives on innovation as these companies rely on the talents of their human resources mostly, the decision-making processes to launch and produce an entirely new product is dependent on the many experts within the company.
In a business environment where democratic leadership is the preferred management style, there is a mutual respect between employees and the leaders which allows a venue to be more of free-speech and less hierarchical order. To achieve this balance, managers who prefer democratic leadership style frequently interacts with employees to overcome the hierarchical order and employees' hesitation to voice their opinions to the manager. The boundaries are less firm compared to autocratic leadership style and firmer than laissez-faire leadership. While in businesses that are managed by laissez-faire employees have the freedom to execute their job in an as flexible way as possible, employees of a democratic leader has less of a freedom on the execution of their job but the decision-making processes.
This type of leadership offers employees an increased sense of job satisfaction as they will be feeling more involved within the company and their ideas are valued. Relationships within the company environment will be more transparent rather than being based on formal and hierarchical. This will increase the trust between employees and managers within a company. In addition, democratic leadership creates an environment in a company where decisions made are more round-up and calculated since opinions of not just the managers but the employees are considered as well. More of an openly-communicated , transparent environment allows there to be more creativity and innovation.
But a disadvantage of the democratic leadership would be that it is slowing down the process of decision making, which is why, it is not a very suitable leadership style for the businesses in a fast-moving environment or rapidly-changing markets. In this case, retailing businesses may not benefit the most from incorporating democratic leadership style. The manager generally must take control of the business and make decisions as fast as they can in retailing businesses.
Nowadays, democratic leadership is not only constrained within the bounds of the company but with the companies' customers as well. With the emergence of social media, customers has a lot more access to companies about the products, plus they voice their opinion on the products on social media and get more attention than ever before. For this reason, democratic leadership is vital for companies to survive in 21st century. Billions of people globally use social media, which naturally leads to most companies to exist actively on social media. They interact with their customers, get their feedback on their products, and how to develop them and on many more issues.
Looking forward to the future, the democratic leadership styles might be more preferred as its prevalence is continuously increasing up to this day. With the emergence of social media in recent years, it has become easier for people to voice their opinions, expectations, and demands on a product or on a company. This factor forces companies to be more open to the concept of democratic leadership and management style by being on social media and land an ear to the customers’ demands, opinions, and feedbacks. In addition, companies transitioning into a more democratic structure within the company will embrace innovations and developments.
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