The Participative Approach to Leadership

 In Leadership

There are many different kinds of leadership, and the style you choose could very well work to serve a solid increase in your chances of success. Research shows that participative leadership is more productive than authoritative models.

What is participative leadership exactly? It’s where a leader works to share their power and encourages input when making decisions that affect the whole team. Management studies show that it can enhance positive outcomes, increases employee job satisfaction, and boost company morale. It’s the difference between giving orders and building consensus.

For example, consider two different approaches to an office move. The CEO with an authoritative leadership style will simply pick the new location they think is best and give employees a list of tasks to complete.

On the flip side, a participative leader would work together to form a committee to review possible choices and give employees the opportunity to discuss the final decision.

Learning to be a more collaborative leader can help your relationships and your career. Try to implement just one these in the next few weeks, and see how your team responds.

Pros of Being a Participative Leader:

  1. Earn trust. For a participative workplace to flourish, colleagues need to trust their leader and each other. That requires confidence in each other’s character and abilities. Be sincerity and transparent in your communication.
  2. Pull together. Close communication draws a team together. Employees are more likely to develop strong and healthy professional relationships and maybe even socialize more outside of work.
  3. Increase engagement. According to recent Gallup polls, employee engagement is the lowest it’s been in 20 years. Fifty-four percent of employees say they are psychologically unattached to their work and do the minimum work required. Giving employees a greater voice can increase their commitment.
  4. Celebrate diversity. One of the greatest strengths of participative leadership is welcoming contributions from team members with a variety of talents and backgrounds. When you let others share their perspective and experience, you can almost always find a fitting solution that works better for more people. Approaching challenges from different perspectives usually creates more effective solutions.
  5. Reward innovation. The free flow of ideas is another benefit. When you create a safe environment for discussion, employees are more likely to propose ideas that can help your business grow and flourish.

Overcoming Obstacles to Participative Leadership:

  1. Clarify your vision. Motivating and inspiring your team becomes even more important when you expect them to make greater contributions. Scheduling regular one-on-one time and providing adequate resources also helps.
  2. Teach communication skills. With so much focus on discussion, employees may need to work on their communication skills, including active listening and sharing constructive feedback. Offer training sessions and post helpful reminders around the office.
  3. Plan for delays. Another common drawback is the way group decisions usually take longer. You need to take that into account when you’re dealing with time-sensitive matters.
  4. Provide structure. Planning ahead can also speed up discussions. Circulate an agenda before meetings, so attendees will come prepared and stick to the subject.
  5. Set boundaries. The participative model works best with issues where your staff has at least a minimum level of expertise. You may have to limit input on some matters to those who meet certain qualifications.
  6. Deal with dissent. After your team votes, what do you say to the members who were in the minority? Make it clear from the start that each employee needs to be fully committed to backing the final decision.
  7. Be decisive. Even in the most democratic workplace, there will be stalemates or decisions that are ill-suited to group deliberations. You’ll still need to take responsibility for resolving sensitive issues that affect the future of your organization.

You can only develop your participative leadership skills with practice. Your employees will thank you!

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