Democratic leadership, a style of participant leadership, is a leadership style in which group members take a more participative role in the decision-making process. Employees meet to discuss and resolve issues by giving everyone some opportunity to contribute to decisions. This kind of leadership applies to all organizations, including businesses, schools, and the government. Researchers have found that this leadership style is usually one of the most effective and leads to higher productivity, better contributions from group members, and increased group morale.
Definition: Democratic leadership is a type of leadership in which group members are involved in decision-making.
Democratic Leadership Execution and Approach
This leadership style allows everyone to participate, exchange ideas, and have their opinions heard and encourages discussions. However, the group leader still needs to provide guidance and direction to maintain the goals and objectives being pursued. The leader needs to think about how quickly decisions need to be made, who needs to be involved, and whether these people can agree in a reasonable amount of time. If not, this kind of leadership might make things worse instead of better.
The below chart represents the different leadership styles and where there are on the spectrum between full control and free-rein.
Figure 1: Leadership Styles 
Primary Characteristics of Democratic Leadership Style: 
- Group members are encouraged to share ideas and opinions, even though the leader retains the final say over decisions.
- Members of the group feel more engaged in the process.
- Creativity is encouraged and rewarded.
Researchers think that good democratic leaders have certain qualities, such as being willing to change, having a fair mind, and being involved in the process. Strong democratic leaders inspire trust and respect among their followers. These leaders are honest and make decisions based on what they believe is right. They also tend to look for different points of view and don’t try to shut down people who disagree or have a less popular point of view. So, people who follow the group feel motivated to take action and help the group.
Benefits of Democratic Leadership Style:
The primary benefit of the democratic leadership style is that since there is group involvement and discussions, more ideas and thoughts lead to better ideas and solutions. The participants in a group become more involved and committed to projects, making them more invested in the final results. Below are a few of the main benefits.
- Employees’ creativity and inventiveness increase as a result of teamwork
- Absenteeism is lower among employees with a higher performance commitment.
- Employees’ job satisfaction and sense of autonomy have grown
- Better enthusiasm among workers, which leads to an increase in productivity
- Productivity increases because they care more
- Reduce workplace conflict
Downside of Democratic Leadership Style: 
There are a few downsides to a democratic leadership style. These include:
- Can lead to communication failures and uncompleted projects during unclear times
- Group members may not have the necessary knowledge or expertise to contribute to decision-making
- Lack of decision-making due to the volume of choices
- Loud minority override
- Side-tracked easily without good leadership to keep the focus
- The difficulty of supervising experts on collaborative teams can be burdensome for leaders
- Team members who believe the best decision is not being made, despite what the majority dictates, are frustrated
How to Lead in a Democratic Way
Democratic leadership works best when everyone in the group has skills and is willing to share them. It is also important to give people enough time to share their ideas, develop a plan, and then vote on the best way to move forward. Because there are so many people involved, setting deadlines can help make sure you get everyone’s input in time to use it. Setting expectations upfront can also be helpful. This makes it clear when the group’s input will be sought and which decisions will be made by management alone.
Other Leadership Styles:
AcqLinks and References:
-  Nickels and McHugh, “Understanding Business” McGraw-Hill Irwin 2010
-  Website: About.com – Democratic Leadership Style