Democratic Leadership – When to implement? Advantages & Disadvantages

Managers are given the tools to lead their teams through any challenge effectively. Decision-making under democratic leadership approach is always group-based. It is a comprehensive process of obtaining opinions from staff to identify numerous solutions to a complex issue. This is a shared responsibility between leaders and followers.

This article intends to put forward various aspects of democratic leadership and its implementation in different scenarios.

Democratic Leadership – Meaning

The Greek term demos, meaning “people,” is whence we get our modern word, “democracy.” The term “democracy” is used to describe a system of administration in which power rests with the people rather than an individual or small group. If a club, organization, or large group is going to work together to get anything done, its leader has to be able to hear everyone out.

Democratic leadership, also known as participatory leadership, opens up the decision-making process to include more voices. It means that inferior people can participate and get equal opportunities in decision-making.

It describes this kind of management whose approach is typical in the executive suites of large corporations, educational institutions, and government agencies. Therefore, under such leadership style, the leader necessitates a constructive outlook and an understanding of the proposal on the part of their subordinates.

Historical background

Recently, there has been a rise in support for democratic forms of leadership that encourage the participation of subordinates. Studies led by renowned behaviorist Kurt Lewin in the 1930s and 1940s established the worth of a democratic/ Participative leadership style in business settings. Leadership styles such as democratic, laissez-faire, and autocratic are described by Lewin, Ronald Lippitt, and Ralph White in their book “Leadership and Group Life.”

The research is based on conversations with company owners and employees. Lewin, Lippitt, and White concluded that followers preferred a democratic type of leadership. There are two critical ways in which influential democratic leaders vary from their authoritarian and laissez-faire counterparts.

Democratic leaders, in contrast to dictators, want their subordinates to have solid work histories and exude self-assurance in their positions. In contrast to the laissez-faire approach, where power is ceded to specialists without the involvement of those who would be most affected by the results, democratic leaders actively participate in crafting policy.

Kurt also observed while democratic leaders carry serious risks, organizations that adopt the popular model nevertheless need capable heads of state who can steer their followers. The clear of the pitfalls that may derail even the most well-intentioned cooperative forces when they lose their bearings.

Features of Democratic Leadership

The following are defining features of democratic leadership that must be included in every successful program. Such as;

  • Effective democratic leadership in any firm or organization requires the collaboration of both the leader and all his team members, so the primary importance of this leadership is to the engagement of employees within the organization
  • Every member of the team should be included in every discussion meeting and provide helpful input to help the organization or business grow
  • Every member can deliver their opinions, so the leader has numerous solutions in case of complex issues
  • As employees of the organization can get an opportunity provides an opportunity to make decisions relating to business dso employees get better job satisfaction


  • This leadership style maintains unity with all members and leaders that allows the organization to maintain a professional balance
  • The leaders and the members of a firm or organization share responsibility for its success under a democratic leadership structure, which is one of its main benefits, so chances of business growth are relatively higher
  • It provides equal priority to all members of the team and their opinions. As a result, every member has an equal responsibility to resolve problems regarding the management of the organization or company. In this way, a worker is treated with the dignity and worth that he/ she deserves from an employer.


  • One of the drawbacks of democratic leadership is that it takes skillful management to lead a team that has a majority of the voting power, whereas it is not possible for all companies to recruit such employees with high-level efficiencies
  • Time-consuming, effective decision-making is the outcome of everyone in the group having a voice in the conversation on how to fix whatever is ailing the firm or the group. Because of this, the scale of that issue may increase with time.
  • It is to be remembered that when everyone can’t be there for an emergency meeting to talk, it’s impossible to get to solid conclusions
  • When a leader adopts a democratic approach, he/ she encourages everyone on the team to actively consider how their ideas and perspectives might shape the future of the business. There might be ideological conflicts on the team if inexperienced members lack expertise and patience.


There is no one best method for establishing democratic rule. To implement this leadership approach can be stated that there is no universal application for adopting a democratic form of leadership.

Recruitment of high-level staff

Democratic leadership requires high-end communication from the side of the employees, which is essential to deliver possible solutions for the business. Therefore, democratic leadership involves a process of recruiting high-level staff, which is considered the initial step of this leadership.

Engage employees in the business

High employee participation is a defining characteristic of effective democratic leadership. When making choices, this style of leadership requires team involvement. Good democratic leaders actively support and pay attention to the ideas and creative solutions of their team.

Developing inner-system communications

Leaders can only extract possible solutions from their employees by developing a free space for them. In order to establish, it is required to create internal communication among staff. Once employees are familiar with this style, then it would become more accessible for a leader to find the best possible solutions for the employees.

Instances from real life

Similar to how organizational propositions have evolved, leadership hypotheses have progressed through time. Sir Shri Ratan Tata is a pioneering leader who uses a novel spin on the most common method of leading a company. Still, he has also used the other two styles on a previous occasion. He is well-liked because he consistently pushes the leadership of his teams to foster fruitful dialogue and active membership. Long-term and short-term plans are developed to their fullest extent by the group’s lower-level leaders. Ratan Tata has become a corporate tyrant while maintaining respect for all employees. The Tata group was looking to sell its automobile division to Ford. Ford, on the other hand, takes an unprofessional attitude.

Meanwhile, Ratan Tata then asked the organization’s subordinates about their course of action. Here, they stated that such an unprofessional attitude could not be tolerable, and they have moved out to sign a contract with Ford. Here, it’s safe to say that a democratic method of gathering member opinions is being used. His ambitious international agreements, such as the worldwide entrances of corporate bootstrappers like Corus, Jaguar and Land Rover, and Tetley Tea, are evidence of this.


It’s crucial to appreciate employees’ efforts. Therefore, a leader must pay close attention to what they have to say. However, it is only with such a direction that we may consider other perspectives.

Consequently, this leadership can address the complex problems at hand. It’s essential to keep in mind that this process is time-consuming since it requires input from all team members.


Beerbohm, E., 2015. Is democratic leadership possible? American Political Science Review, 109(4), pp.639-652.

Foels, R., Driskell, J.E., Mullen, B. and Salas, E., 2000. The effects of democratic leadership on group member satisfaction: An integration. Small Group Research, 31(6), pp.676-701.

When ‘humiliated’ Ratan Tata did ‘favor’ to Ford with JLR buyout! (no date) The Economic Times. Available at: (Accessed: January 3, 2023).

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