The Democratic leadership style allows employees to reach decisions collectively. It achieves this by spending time one-on-one and in meetings listening to the concerns of employees, which keeps morale high. It gets buy-in and builds feelings of trust and respect. The resulting impact on climate is positive across the board.
Listening is the key skill of the democratic leader. Such leaders create a sense that they truly want to hear employees’ thoughts and concerns and that they’re available to listen. They are also true collaborators, working as team members rather than top-down leaders.
When to use the Democratic Style
A democratic approach works best when the leader wants input and buy-in from able employees about what direction to take. Even when a leader has a strong vision, the democratic style works well to surface ideas about how to implement that vision or to generate fresh ideas for executing it.
A drawback of the democratic style can be endless meetings in which ideas are mulled over, and consensus remains elusive. Consensus building is also wrong-headed in times of crisis, when urgent events demand on-the-spot decisions.
Source: “The New Leaders” – Daniel Goleman