Participative leadership is a management style in which other members of the organization or department, especially subordinate employees, are involved in discussions and making decisions that are important to the company or work team. While it often leads to slower decision-making processes, this approach has several key advantages to both the manager and the employees.
A manager can improve the morale of a workplace by using a participative leadership approach. Employees will feel more engaged when they have a voice in business decisions and activities. When employees feel like their role is more submissive and restricted, they have more of a tendency to withdraw and focus on task completion. Participative management gives employees the sense that they are also key stakeholders in the evolution of the department or company.
Participative leadership often goes hand-in-hand with a team-oriented workplace. In both cases, the point is to get employees to open up and share ideas and discuss perspectives on those ideas before making decisions. If you have a participative atmosphere, employees more easily develop the attitude that their voice matters. When they collaborate in functional or project work teams, their discussions and activities mirror those of the participative culture. Employees share ideas and discuss conflicts openly.
Innovative thinking is often fostered in a culture of participative leadership. Employees in this environment recognize that their ideas and feedback are not only appreciated, but often put into action. In fact, some organizations reward employees that come up with new product or service ideas or alternative ways for companies to grow revenue or mitigate costs. Entrepreneurial-minded employees can work in a participative culture and make use of their creativity and entrepreneurship without the risks of going it alone in business.
Employee self-worth tends to peak when they feel the work they do has high value to the organization and its customers or clients. This is more likely when employee input is used even in high-level decisions. Employees also tend to buy-in to the company more when their voices are heard. This is especially important in retail organizations, where employees have regular and direct contact with customers. Companies want employees to feel empowered and important to improve commitment and focus to customers.
- Noel Hendrickson/Photodisc/Getty Images