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What is Participative Leadership?

Malcolm Tatum
By
Updated May 16, 2024
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Participative leadership is a style of leadership that involves all members of a team in identifying essential goals and developing procedures or strategies to reach those goals. From this perspective, this leadership style can be seen as a leadership style that relies heavily on the leader functioning as a facilitator rather than simply issuing orders or making assignments. This type of involved leadership style can be utilized in business settings, volunteer organizations and even in the function of the home.

One of the main benefits of participative leadership is that the process allows for the development of additional leaders who can serve the organization at a later date. Because leaders who favor this style encourage active involvement on the part of everyone on the team, people often are able to express their creativity and demonstrate abilities and talents that would not be made apparent otherwise. The discovery of these hidden assets help to benefit the work of the current team, but also alerts the organization to people within the team who should be provided with opportunities to further develop some skill or ability for future use.

Participative leadership also expands the range of possibilities for the team. When leadership styles that essentially leave all the direction and decision making in the hands of one individual, it is much more difficult to see a given approach from several different angles. When the leadership style encourages others to be involved in the decision making process, a given course of action can be approached from a variety of perceptions. This can often point out strengths or weaknesses to the approach that would have gone unobserved and thus unresolved without this type of participatory brainstorming and decision making.

One potential disadvantage of participate leadership is the time factor. This leadership style does often involve the need for more time before action is taken. This is only natural, since the very nature of this leadership style means allowing input from every member of the team. However, the extra time necessary for this process often leads to decisions that ultimately benefit everyone to a greater degree than faster decisions that are more limited in scope.

Effective participative leadership allows the talents and skills of all the team members to be utilized in arriving at decisions and taking courses of action. While the team leader is usually still responsible for making the final decision, this sharing of functions within the team provide the perfect environment for everyone to provide input that has the potential to make that final decision more well rounded and ultimately profitable for the company as a whole.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including SmartCapitalMind, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By anon354636 — On Nov 10, 2013

Participative Leadership is a style, which is or can be utilised by the leader. The leader, who considers the involvement of people beneficial to the business needs, is likely to understand that, under emergency circumstances, the decision process must occur in a much shorter time.

It is an inclusive, not exclusive style of leadership. Its prevalence in other styles of leadership is consistent with the fact that, by definition, an "emergency" is an extraordinary and not an ordinary state of the business.

Therefore, I believe it to be the preferred style of leadership, particularly in complex organizations. --Davide C.

By FitzMaurice — On Jul 12, 2010

Geert Hofstede is a sociologist who has come up with many helpful scales of measuring cultures. One of these is called power distance, and relates to how closely the leaders in a given culture are expected to listen to the suggestions of the people they lead. Speaking generally, it seems that cultures with lower power distance tend to be more democratic and have a greater diversity of ideas because of empowerment and the emphasis placed on individual innovation.

By Proxy414 — On Jul 12, 2010

I have participated in this form of decision making and am unsure if it is the most beneficial to a group in every type of context. For example, in an emergency situation, isn't it appropriate for one person to take absolute command (e.g., a medical technician or qualified law enforcement officer) and make all the decisions? I think that there may also be other situations where putting the decision making in the hand of a learned and qualified person would be most beneficial to the group.

By cmsmith10 — On Jul 11, 2010

There are several reasons why participative leadership is the way to go. One reason is that people are more committed to actions in which they are involved in the relevant decision making. Another is that several people working together make better decisions through collaboration than one person would alone.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
Learn more
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