Participative Leadership Theory

Some leaders like to dictate the specific circumstances of a project or task that needs to be completed. Others prefer a more democratic method of leadership, where they take in as many opinions as possible before making a decision. Those that take the democratic method of leadership are the leaders which are practicing the Participative Leadership Theory.

The benefit of this leadership theory is clear: by bring in the most amount of participation possible in any given situation, the experiences and knowledge of everyone can be used to make the best decisions for the team. Understanding this leadership theory allows managers and employees to feel like they’ve got some ownership in the direct a team or a company is heading.

There Are Different Types of Participation Possible

In the Participative Leadership Theory, there are two basic types of participation that occur: representative and participatory. In the representative version of this leadership theory, a group of employees will bring designated individuals to represent their feedback to decisions that need to be made. This is typically seen in the form of a council, a secondary board, or other groups that come together to meet regularly.

The participatory version of this leadership theory is even more hands-on. This version allows each employee to have a certain degree of responsibility in a decision that is made. They work together with their immediate managers or supervisors to locate the path a team needs to go for a successful project. The advantage of this form of participation is that it allows teams to self-manage while still being able to work toward an overall company mission.

Why Is the Participative Leadership Theory Successful?

Support for this theory comes from the foundation of meeting an individual’s needs on a consistent basis. In order to motivate people, one must provide an environment where they can be allowed to grow. In order to achieve growth, there must be some level of motivation present. Motivation comes from being able to meet deficiencies in the higher level needs each individual may have. Providing a certain level of decision-making responsibility in representative or participatory leadership allows for those deficiencies to be resolved.

The other true advantage of using the Participative Leadership Theory is that it changes the balance of power within an organization. Many companies have a chain of command that starts with one person at the top or a board of directors and then a pyramid that is created from underneath that top point. This leadership theory reverses the pyramid. The employees become the top of the food chain, helping to direct the course of action each organization takes.

The Participative Leadership Theory is not without its challenges. Employees and managers need to buy into it for it to succeed. If they do, however, most will find that the rewards of having this level of input creates a higher job satisfaction and better overall morale.

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