What is Democratic Leadership?

Editorial Team

What is Democratic Leadership

There are several leadership styles and descriptions. Whereas some companies are still stuck on the managerial hierarchical type of leadership, others are more receptive to change and have adopted different leadership styles.

One of these many management styles is democratic leadership. It empowers group members to participate in the decision-making process, shifting from the archaic managerial hierarchical method.

It is one of the most effective leadership methods and fuels high productivity among all the group members. It also increases worthy contributions from group members and improves their overall morale.

Democratic leadership allows employees to meet, discuss and resolve issues, giving them a voice in the decision-making process. Its opposite is autocratic leadership, where all the decisions are centralized. It is hailed for some of the successes in big organizations.

Democratic leaders, therefore, ensure that everyone’s opinions are considered when coming up with decisions. Democratic leaders should know how to balance the participation of other group members in the decision-making process and ensure that all the decisions are directed towards fostering the organization’s success.

Objective leadership mainly aims to improve the quality of leadership rather than its productivity. It focuses on making the best decisions regardless of the time taken. These leaders collect the ideas and suggestions of all the members patiently before drafting a final decision.

This type of leadership does away with all the wrong sides of autocratic leadership.

Democratic Leadership Characteristics

1.    Group Participation 

Democratic leadership, just like any other type of democracy, mainly lies in group participation. This type of leadership is quite different since it ensures that other group members’ ideas and suggestions are heard and valued and further play a significant role in drafting the final decision.

It ensures that everyone has a say in the final decisions, preventing any feeling of being sidelined or ignored. Therefore, it does away with the typical belief that all leadership flows from the central administration downwards.

2.      Shared Responsibility 

Democratic leadership is all about giving everyone a say in the final decisions of the business. It, therefore, ensures that responsibility is equally shared among groups using leaders. It eliminates burdening a given faction with decision-making.

Sharing responsibility eradicates chances of gross mistakes. Different people can point out some errors that those in top management cannot easily identify. Sharing responsibility, therefore, means that they can all pinpoint areas that need to be improved or some of the things that should be avoided.

Also, making everybody responsible for the final business decision gives them the push to work even harder, fueling business objectives. Sharing responsibility is a recipe for good management, as shown in the final results.

However, you should note that top leadership is still viable in this arrangement since responsibility is shared using leaders. Therefore, it does not wholly eradicate the top management as there still exist people in charge of the other employees.

3.      Rewards Creativity 

Democratic leadership is one of the few styles that reward creativity from the workforce or groups. It expects leaders and individuals to show their creative sides since it is built on innovation and collaboration. The leader must therefore assist the given team with sufficient knowledge and creativity.

Working closely with employees to foster proper decision making requires more than most people think. It requires a fair amount of creativity and patience. This type of leadership taps into the creative side of leaders and help bring it out.

Keep in mind that creative thinking can also be enhanced with time and experience, even though it is an innate skill. It allows people to speak their minds freely, for which they earn respect. Democratic leaders encourage people to think freely by rewarding innovative thinking.

4.      Banks on Fairness 

One of the most significant characteristics of democratic leadership is that it is fair. Democratic leaders are expected not to show any sign of biases and favoritism. This type of leadership expects everybody to give his/ her opinions clearly without any discrimination.

It allows employees to speak their minds freely and equally contribute to the decision-making process, which calls for high fairness levels. The best way to show fairness is to set clear guidelines.

This involves drafting a series of checklists and guidelines to be used to achieve business objectives and limit the instances of being unfair. Democratic leaders bank on communication with their subordinates and collect their feedback, even if they do not sound viable.

5.      Requires Intelligence 

Democratic leadership is unique in all aspects. Even though intelligence is a requirement for all types of leaders, it places a higher threshold for democratic leaders. Democratic leaders are considered smart thanks to their ability to delegate responsibilities effectively.

They also need to be intelligent to answer several questions that their employees may ask them. They, therefore, need to have some background information. Democratic leaders should also develop a team with the right skills to work on different projects.

Intelligence also means good decision-making skills for coming up with the right decision and rejecting those that may not be viable in the long run. Remember that leaders have to hear out every voice and make decisions reasonably, which calls for intelligence.

6.      Offers Space for Open Conversations

One of the main characteristics of democratic leadership is that it offers space for open conversations. Group members can converse freely without feeling pressured or looked down upon to come up with business decisions.

Also, keep in mind that this type of leadership highly banks on fairness, which means taking into account everyone’s opinions. Therefore, members are allowed to freely voice their opinions without feeling looked down upon or insignificant.

Creating space for open conversations in a business setting also comes with its fair share of advantages. People can spot the smallest of mistakes that may make a massive difference in the end, preventing a considerable loss or escalating the achievement of given set objectives.

7.      Requires More Human Skills 

This type of leadership requires leaders to invest in more human skills. Remember, it involves coming up with teams with the right skills and connecting with them at a personal level, encouraging them to come up with business decisions.

A democratic leader should know how to communicate effectively with the team members and bridge a connection to bring out their opinions and encourage honest conversations. He/ she should also be patient while dealing with them to encourage participation.

An excellent democratic leader should also be highly empathetic to the group members’ plight and assess specific facts that may prevent them from actively participating and voicing useful opinions towards the fulfillment of given objectives.

8.      Focuses on Quality Rather than Productivity 

Considering everyone’s opinions takes time, and therefore, this type of leadership does not concern itself with the volume of productivity registered at the end of the day. It is more interested in the quality of work achieved by factoring in everyone’s voices.

It is considered one of the slowest methods of getting things done, owing to all the involved processes. Leaders must weigh all the opinions of other employees before picking on the best ones that may be actualized.

It is quite different from the autocratic leadership style, which ensures maximum output regardless of the means of production is employed, irrespective of the processes taken. It considers everyone’s opinions before coming up with a final decision, which shows just how much it is bent on quality of decisions rather than getting the work done.

Therefore, it applies a more detailed approach in decision-making as opposed to other leadership styles.

9.      People Who Participate in Decision Making Are Chosen

Not everyone gets to take part in decision making in this type of leadership. Leaders choose those who participate in the decision-making methods, who in this case must have the right skill set. Selecting people to participate in the decision-making method ensures that decisions from the best are considered, making work more comfortable.

Also, bringing together the best minds helps businesses come up with the best decisions faster. They can also work together to challenge different opinions before coming up with the best.

Democratic Leadership Examples 

Several companies have shown democratic leadership principles in the running of their everyday activities. An excellent point to note is that these are some of the biggest companies in their service areas, explaining just how this type of leadership plays a significant role in business success.

In as much as most businesses with strict procedures or a high turnover of employees prefer the autocratic means of leadership, there are given divisions that function best with democratic leadership style. Here are some of the businesses that have extensively shown the adoption of this type of leadership.

1.    Pharmaceutical Industry 

This is one of the biggest industries in the world. They have an extensive range of expert chemists who must work in collaborative teams to ace different development projects, clearly depicting Democratic leadership.

However, you should note that most companies in this category still require autocratic leaders to supervise the subordinates to streamline all the operations. Some of these operations require strict procedures that bar them from subscribing to democratic leadership.

However, the collaborative teams that come up with decisions are a good show of democratic leadership.

2.      Hospital and Laboratories 

Just like the pharmaceutical industry, hospitals and laboratories call for a blend of leadership styles, and in this case, both autocratic and democratic. Specific administrative departments such as personnel and accounting require an autocratic leadership style for accountability and consistency.

However, physicians must also work together under democratic leaders to come up with given procedural decisions. Most nurses employ democratic leadership to carry out team functions necessary in coming up with conclusions.

3.      High-Tech Firms 

High tech firms are some of the classic examples of democratic leadership. Most of the companies in this category are well-suited for democratic leadership, with some of them having both engineering and software development teams that work under democratic leaders.

Some Of The Real-Life Examples Of Companies That Practice Democratic Leadership

1. Google

 Google has one of the most fantastic invention stories. It was started by two doctorate students who decided to go against all the market practices and hired Eric Schmidt to jump-start their company and later embrace different leadership types.

These three leading players immediately started scouting experienced talent to build democratic teams. Over time, Google has remained democratic in terms of leadership and how it has approached product development under the present CEO Page.

2. Amazon 

Everyone knows Amazon. It has shown massive growth over the years, making Jeff Bezos the richest man in the world. However, a more in-depth look into how Amazon grew reveals that it embraced three of Lewin’s leadership models.

Jeff Bezos contributed to lots of expert computer programmers from nearby software companies before quickly coming up with a democratic leadership approach. The company has maintained its democratic values over time, as seen in the C-suite executives, division heads, and project directors.

This is by far the best example of how democratic leadership can fuel success.

3. Mayo Clinic 

We all know Mayo Clinic as one of the most prominent nonprofit organizations. Over time, it has built itself as one of the most significant healthcare research facilities globally and boldly takes pride in its democratic leadership approach.

Dr. William Mayo and the board of governors tracks some of the most brilliant minds in the medical field before pairing them with democratic teams, allowing them to work with their peers.

4. Genentech 

This is the last classic example of a democratic leadership model at work. This company has been a success owing to its democratic leadership values that attract scientists. Keep in mind that this is a pioneer in the discovery and development of restriction enzymes.


Democratic is the way to go for companies that want quality and proper decision-making processes. It takes into account all the opinions of skilled team members to come up with workable solutions. Therefore, companies should turn away from the authoritarian type of leadership and adopt the new leadership methods.