Participative Leadership: (Here Is All You Need To Know About It)

Effective leadership can help organizations become more productive and competitive. There are different styles and types of leadership that helps guide businesses, innovative teams, and collaborative work environment to succeed.

The types of leadership styles that exist are adaptive, consultation, critical, transformative, and participative leadership amongst others. But one leadership style that is getting a lot of attention today is participative leadership.

Participative leadership is a great style for managers who prefer whole-team contributions and decision-making. This style of leadership involves engaging team members as an approach to advance the company.

This article explores the definition, attributes, types, as well as advantages and disadvantages of participative leadership. Follow me.

What Is Participative Leadership?

As the name implies, it is a style of leadership in which all members of the organization work together to make decisions. It is also known as democratic leadership because all members are encouraged to participate.

In other words, it refers to a style of leadership in which leaders employ a democratic approach to team engagement. Here, workers get the chance to express their creativity by coming up with suggestions to tackle a situation.

Furthermore, participative leadership ensures that all members of the organization give input in the decision-making process. Certain steps are followed by participative leaders which mainly include;

  • Discussing as a group
  • Providing pertinent information needed to make decisions
  • Sharing of ideas
  • Processing the ideas and information
  • Coming to a decision and implementing the decision

Participative leadership is most times successful in organizations that have defined roles requiring little oversight of management. Also, it is applicable to different levels of ownership to meet the needs of the organization.

Attributes Of Participative Leadership

There are certain attributes evident in a participative leader. This attribute is what makes him distinct from every other leader with a definite leadership style. Five of its major characteristics are;

1. Excellent communication skills

A critical feature of participative leadership is excellent communication skills. This is necessary in order to seek the input and suggestions of the members effectively and successfully.

Moreso, participative leaders need to develop a system of receiving feedback from their employees and communicating the same during the decision-making process.

2. Good listening skills

Not only must a participative leader be able to communicate, but he must also be a good listener.

You will need to pay attention while receiving input from your employees and encourage them to speak up. This way, employees feel connected and devoted to the company.

Furthermore, they know that high morale among the employees delivers better overall results and also appreciate the workers for their work and contribution to the progress of the company.

3. Ability to empower employees

Participative leaders are able to empower employees with decision-making responsibilities and active participation in the company. Their aim is to make sure that everyone is also able to lead.

Therefore, this makes them provide knowledge and training to their workers to prepare them as leaders of tomorrow and not just as an ordinary leader but effective ones.

4. Open-mindedness

Participative leadership calls for broad-mindedness. Such a leader must be open to acknowledging everyone’s opinion.

A participative leader is always open to inputs, suggestions, and advice from colleagues and subordinates.

He admits that receiving feedback from the workforce brings better results as no one is an aisle of knowledge.

Therefore, everyone putting their heads together to reach a decision would only create different opportunities for the company’s growth.

5. Curiosity

Participative leaders are curious, always looking for fresh and innovative ideas from their employees to improve their business. They realize that inputs from others can enable them to see the larger picture from various perspectives.

Furthermore, they seek problems in the environment and engage employees in proffering solutions to such problems which in turn adds value to the company.

Types Of Participative Leadership

Organizations interested in implementing joint participation in decision-making can explore the spectrum of group responsibility by trying any of these four types of participative leadership which are;

1. Collective participative leadership

This type of participative leadership affords everyone across an organization the opportunity to work together. All responsibility falls equally on the group.

The leaders help facilitate, but all group members are responsible for the process and outcome and the majority of the group must agree to proceed with a decision.

2. Consensus participative leadership

In consensus participative leadership, leaders allow employees to make company-wide decisions using a voting approach. The leaders do not have additional power over other members of the group and work exclusively as facilitators.

Decisions or goals are sometimes amended until all parties agree and conclude to move forward.

3. Autocratic participative leadership

This type of participative leadership is similar to democratic participative leadership but here, the leaders hold more power. There is less precedence put on the decision of the group and more on the leader.

Input from employees is welcomed but the leadership makes the final decision and is not expected to give an explanation why there is a difference in the decision made. Employees have a say but leaders have the most power.

4. Democratic participative leadership

Leaders have more power than the group as a whole. Employees are invited to offer their opinions on key issues or challenges, but the leaders make the final decision. Voting may sometimes occur on the outcome.

In the event that employees have issues with the final decision, leadership explains their reasons for the decision and manages the issues effectively.

Advantages of Participative Leadership

There are a lot of positives associated with participative leadership. Here are some of its benefits to the organization and also to the group members:

1. Collective thinking

Participative leadership allows for collective thinking. Many voices and ideas come into play and by this leadership has a greater chance of receiving innovative and inventive thinking.

Problems are solved in many ways leadership is never anticipated with input from all levels of the organization. There are greater chances of getting the solution to a problem as various perspectives and ideologies are being put to work.

2. Creative thinking

By opening up the floor to employees’ input, creative thinking ensues and that opens the door for cost-saving innovations, unique approaches to productivity and efficiency, and much more.

In times, when the management feels short of ideas, involving the whole group members, opens the door for creative and relevant ideas.

3. Boost morale

Participative leadership supports employees’ well-being by making them a more active part of the organization. Every member of the group has a sense of importance and they feel like important members of the organization.

4. Employee retention

Participative leadership helps to tone down absent-mindedness. Employees tend to remember the decisions they were part of making and want to see those decisions come to fruition.

Members of an organization are more likely to stay when the organization seeks their input and they feel like an important contributor to the success of the company. It makes employees feel loyalty to the company.

5. Company-wide unity

When everyone is working towards achieving a common goal, they tend to feel united.

Involving employees in the decision-making process can do a lot more to help them feel like they are a part of the company and this makes them not have I’ll feelings towards one another.

General participation in the decision-making process fosters unity. When employees are involved in making decisions that affect their day-to-day lives, it creates a possibility of uniting members of the organization.

6. Independence

If followers are an active part of the decision-making process, they will require less managerial supervision. Since they are a part of the process, they already know what to do and how to do it.

Not only that, participative leadership has a way of motivating employees to give their best because they will want to make sure that the decision reached is successful upon implementation.

7. Added value

Followers feel valued when leaders listen to their ideas and this will lead to higher productivity in the organization. It equally makes employees feel like an integral part of the company as well as a sense of belonging.

Additionally, participative leadership ensures that members of the organization learn to become leaders by adding value to them through training and active participation in the company.

Disadvantages of Participative Leadership

There are some definite downsides to participative leadership depending on the focus of your organization. Some of these disadvantages are:

1. Slow process

Participative leadership takes time to implement. Organizing a large group, obtaining ideas and feedback, discussing possible courses of action, and then communicating the decision can be a lengthy process.

Secondly, a company that exists in a higher-pressure industry that requires immediate decision-making may experience a halt in advancement due to the long process of participative leadership.

2. Indecision

Everyone might have input in participative leadership, thus, making it challenging to come to a group consensus. Leaders may also find it difficult to come to a unified and conclusive decision sometimes.

It becomes hard to come to a collective decision when there are different quality opinions and perspectives.

Moreso, everyone may be sentimental with their reasoning and feel the need to see their opinions upheld.

3. Information leaks

There are times when the company deals with sensitive information, and this approach of leadership could lead to public exposure of things that needs privacy. This is because in making decisions, every information needed to get answers has to be diffused.

Hence, in some way, employees may inadvertently share private information with the wrong person or misplace key documentation that may get into the wrong hands.

4. Social Pressures

Lower-level group members may feel pressure to conform to the desires of the group majority of their superiors.

Sometimes, no matter your effort, cliques or internal groups may form around the companies and this may create an opportunity to influence people’s decisions.

Even when people don’t want to, their opinions may be affected by what others in their clique think or feel should be done.

5. It may be difficult for a wider group

In a bigger company, more voices have to be accommodated and there is a likelihood of experiencing differing opinions that may be difficult to resolve and compromise.

Though it can be done, it becomes difficult acknowledging the opinions of every member. It will take a lot of space, effort, time, and resources for everyone to be heard.


When should you use participative leadership?

Participative leadership will work in an organization with fewer members and in an environment with lower pressure that is not prone to quick turnarounds.

How can you implement participative leadership?

Participative leadership can be implemented by discussing as a group, giving necessary information, sharing ideas, processing ideas and information, making and implementing the decision.

Is participative leadership an effective style of leadership?

Yes, participative leadership is an effective style of leadership when properly implemented.


Participative leadership allows businesses to enjoy success but it is important to know when this approach of leadership works best.

It brings a myriad of benefits to an organization. A leader who uses this style effectively will be able to involve their entire team in the running of the organization.

Furthermore, the collection style of participative management may be best when dealing with highly skilled professionals but the autocratic style may be best when there is a short time limit to meet up goals.

Finally, you should read the article on the areas of development for managers, so you can gain knowledge to become a better leader in the organization.

I hope you got value.

Thanks for reading.