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How Participative Leadership Can Help Foster a Positive Environment

Think of any big or meaningful task and then assess how that task was achieved. In almost all the instances, there was a team that got together, discussed their options, and arrived at a decision. Participative leadership works marvels everywhere around the world, so why is it not working for offices? This is because people believe that too many cooks spoil the broth. 

Most people believe that leaders need to work in isolation and decide things single-handedly. They believe that participative leadership is counterintuitive to a good office environment and will empower the employees unnecessarily. What they do not realize is that participative leadership can turn the tables for their offices. If you do not believe us, read ahead and untangle this mystery yourself. 

What Is Participative Leadership

The participative leadership style entails leaders to listen to their employees and taking their opinions into consideration when making decisions. Moreover, participative leadership requires good communication skills, an inclusive and democratic mindset, and most importantly- an inclination to share your power with other capable people. 

What Are the Characteristics of Participative Leaders?

1. Realize the Potential of Participative Leadership

Imagine someone telling you today that participative leadership is the best way to make your company thrive, and you choose to take their advice, you know what would happen in a month or two? You would have stagnant growth and nothing to show for your progress. 

This is because no one can enjoy the fruits of participative leadership without believing in its essence. So before you jump on the bandwagon and adopt this style, make sure you understand what it means to be a participative leader. 

2. Curiosity About the Future

The future brings with it many possibilities. Unlike many others, participative leaders are not trying to follow a particular path, they are trying to explore all different opportunities. Since they are open about the future and curious about their options, they assess and evaluate many different options.

They also discuss their prospective plans with their associates and team members and try to reach a decision that satisfies everyone. 

3. Create Avenues for Idea-Sharing

Create Avenues for Idea-Sharing in Leadership

Participative leaders do not only announce that they are going to take everyone’s ideas and opinions into consideration; they do it by creating different avenues for idea-sharing. Some leaders use online platforms like Trello and Google Meet groups, while others use offline spaces to bring their teams together. 

The latter can look like joint rooms where employees from different hierarchies can work and discuss their ideas. This helps eliminate the boundaries between teams and management. 

4. Excellent Communication Skills

Participative leaders go out of their way to accommodate the ideas of others, however, they are also very persuasive leaders themselves. For starters, they work on their articulation skill, so they can express their vision clearly. When the team knows and understands what the leader wants to achieve, they can better streamline their ideas.

Moreover, leaders like this tend to pay special attention to the reviews and critiques left by their employees. This gives them a deeper understanding of what the team wants. 

Also read: 7 Great tips to help you listen like a leader?

5. Be Open to the Suggestions of Others

It might seem difficult to take everyone’s suggestions to consideration. Inclusive leaders face the same issue, whereas exclusive leaders save time and take decisions single-handedly. The latter may seem like a better option for leaders who want to save time, however, it is not suitable for long time progress. 

Participative leaders are welcoming to the suggestions of others, which is why they always have a plethora of diverse options to choose from. This may require more of their time, but it ultimately helps them reach the right decision. 

Also read: Why leaders make bad decisions? Untangling the mystery. 

6. Ability to Empower Others

Empowering others is not simply telling them that they have a voice and a right that they can exercise anytime. It is also showing them that they have the authority and the right to express their opinions freely- despite how controversial these opinions are. 

Participative leaders create safe spaces for employees, so they do not feel intimidated by the upper management. Moreover, these leaders take help from Human Resources, so they can end up creating equitable policies for everyone. 

7. Broad-Mindedness

Race, religion, ethnicity, gender, and many other similar things are important in life. However, they should pay very little role when it comes to taking business decisions. Participative leaders can see the bigger picture and tend to play the bigger game by keeping their options open. 

They are not confined by the motives that govern the behavior of most other leaders. They can look beyond the myopic version of things and come up with something innovative that makes them stand out in the crowd. 

8. Encourage Accountability Within Your Ranks

In the presence of participative leaders, employees gain a good amount of power. They realize that their words and their opinions have meaning. They can also mistake this privilege for unconditional support. Participative leaders realize that power can corrupt, and they create ways to minimize this risk. 

By involving HR and creating incentives and punishments, they ensure that no one within the rank becomes boastful and acts as a bully to others-especially when someone’s idea is accepted by the higher management. 

Also read: How good leadership skills can transform a toxic workplace?

Types of Participative Leaders

Consensus Participative Leadership

1. Consensus Participative Leadership

Leaders who fall under the category of consensus participative leadership do not have any additional power over other teams or groups. These leaders only work as facilitators and can help the team reach a comprehensive decision. 

Moreover, in this style of leadership, the consent of all members is needed before a decision is made. Most companies stay away from this style of leadership because it is risky and requires the leaders to spend a lot of time. 

2. Collective Participative Leadership

In this type of leadership, the group shares the credit for any wins and takes the fall for any failures. In short, any responsibility is shared equally among all group members. The leader usually works as a facilitator and helps the team members reach a decision. Not all members need to vote the same, however, this style of leadership does require a majority vote. 

3. Democratic Participative Leadership

This is a style of leadership that most new-age leaders use. Although it involves leaders asking for suggestions and advice from group members, they do not necessarily need the consent of the group in order to make the decision. The leader has more power than the group and can veto any decisions taken by the group members. 

4. Autocratic Participative Leadership

The only difference between a democratic participative leader and an autocratic participative leader is that the latter gives the leader a lot of power. The leader may or may not take help from the employees, but the final decision will be taken by the leader. 

How Participative Leadership Can Foster a Good Office Environment?

1. Increases Engagement Within Ranks

Conflict resolution tends to waste a lot of valuable resources of Human Resources. Every year, the company spends a handful of amount solving issues between management and the teams. Participative leadership tends to bridge the gap and increase connectivity within ranks. With increased engagement, the company is able to create a relatively positive environment for all parties.

2. Gives Validation to Employees

In most offices, employees are quitting because they do not get the validation and recognition they want from the higher ranks. They feel inferior and do not feel a connection with the company. However, participative leadership changes that. It helps employees get validation, and they feel that their words have worth and are respected. 

3. Boosts Morale

Offices’ environment are usually dry and some even make you feel like you are dead inside. This is because most jobs require you to carry out very mundane tasks every day. This can take away your energy and make you feel less energetic. However, with active involvement and participation, employees can regain their energy and feel more active when they are working. 

4. Encourages Independence

Most people do not believe that they have any valuable input to give others. They feel hesitant to share their ideas, even when they know they have something good to contribute. When leaders give their employees enough confidence to share their ideas, they also instill independent thinking in them. These people start thinking of new ideas and new initiatives on their own, thus pushing the company to progress. 

5. Incentivizes Loyalty Towards the Leader

When employees see that their leader is treating them with respect and giving them the validation they need, they are also going to start trusting their leader and their intentions. They are also going to feel more loyalty towards the leader and the company. This prevents them from quite quitting- or, in some cases, actually quitting. 

Become an Exceptional Participative Leader With Best Diplomats

Become an Exceptional Participative Leader With Best Diplomats

Best Diplomats has vowed to train leaders for the future-leaders who can look beyond their interests and do good for their company and their society. By definition, they are creating participative and inclusive leaders who can play the long game tactfully. 

Best Diplomats conducts 8 training programs every year all over the world. You can enroll in any of these trainings and learn how to engage a wider audience. You will learn how to communicate with a diverse group of people by using verbal and non-verbal cues. 

You will also learn diplomacy-the art of convincing others of your agenda: something that will come in very handy when you join an office environment. 


If you are still reading, chances are that this unique style of leadership interests you too- and rightfully so, too. Participative leadership can do a great load of good, for not just your leadership, but also for all the employees involved in the process. It can help boost confidence and empower people to take ownership of the company they are involved with. On top of that, it makes you a popular leader: A leader that everyone will back when things go south. 


What Are the Disadvantages of Participative Leadership?

Although participative leadership helps foster a good office environment, it is not suitable for newer companies. This is because participative leadership requires a lot of time. Leaders need to create diverse avenues to give everyone a platform to share their ideas. Moreover, these ideas need to be taken into account.
Smaller companies and organizations do not always have the resources to indulge in participative leadership. Moreover, this form of leadership can take away significant authority from the leader.

What Are the Examples of Participative Leaders?

Participative leadership has not existed as a concept for very long. There have only been a handful of leaders that have adopted the style in its true essence. Some of these leaders include Bill Gates, Indra Noyi, and Carlos Ghosn. However, if we look back, we can also find hints of this style in Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. 

Are Inclusive Leaders the Same as Participative Leaders?

Since both these words are often used interchangeably, it is easy to confuse the two. In reality, inclusive leadership is different from participative leadership. Inclusive leaders help create policies and an environment that helps make everyone feel welcome, regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, or beliefs. Participative leaders go a step ahead and involve these diverse groups in the decision-making process.

What Is the Best Leadership Style?

There are many popular leadership styles such as inclusive, democratic, participative, charismatic and even autocratic leadership style. The best style is one that works for the betterment of the company while also ensuring the progress of society. Leaders need to fulfil their civic duty and take on social causes as well. The leadership style that is most likely to allow this is transformational and inclusive leadership style. 

When Is Participative Leadership Most Effective?

Participative leadership is most effective in non-crisis situation where organizations are not working in a time crunch. In non-crisis situations, there is ample time for the team members and the upper management to discuss and assess issues. Moreover, participative leadership comes in handy when issues like racism, misogyny or ethnocentrism are involved. Since these issues affect a diverse group of people, it is best to have participative leadership that can decide accordingly. 

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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