Close your eyes and imagine a great leader. Somebody who leads their product, team, company or colleagues to success. What makes them great? It may be their vision, ability to set the pace, team spirit, the example they set or the results they come to.
There are many leadership styles that one can embody, but as you develop as a leader one style usually takes precedence. The trick is determining which style works most effectively for you. Research has shown that these styles differ not only between individuals but also by gender. One of the styles that women more often adopt is democratic leadership.
Democratic leadership is a participative and collegial style of running a team. The style is characterized by open communication which allows ideas to move freely and encourages group discussion.
This, along with other participatory styles, tend to work well for women as they play to traditionally feminine traits. They promote team work, communication, patience, flexibility and are future looking.
Why be a democratic leader?
Democratic leadership has gained popularity due to its ability to empower teams and workforces. If you frequently encourage your employees to contribute their opinions and ideas to the discussion, then you are most likely a democratic or participative leader. Your style promotes creativity, a shared vision and builds commitment, as well as loyalty.
While an open environment is healthy for free flowing ideas, keep in mind that with so much input, final decisions tend to get made more slowly. During crisis situations or points when a quick decision is needed you’ll need to be more coercive.
If you work in a flexible and creative environment or industry, then democratic leadership may be the best way to go. Some fields that benefit from the approach are creative groups such as advertising or marketing companies, consulting groups, service industries and education.
If you’re a democratic leader or think the style may benefit you, your team or company then you may want to look at a few examples of success. Below are some companies and individuals who have assumed the leadership style successfully.
- Indra Nooyi, CEO and chairman of PepsiCo
- Ginni Rometty, President and CEO of IBM
- Mayo Clinic
Is democratic leadership your style of choice? Let us know! If not, stay tuned to explore other styles through our Leadership Style Spotlight series.