What Is Participative Leadership Style? Its Characteristics and Examples

participative leadership, participative leadership examples

What Is Participative Leadership Style? Its Characteristics and Examples

The dynamic business environment requires a strong leader who inspires employees and aligns business activities with organizational goals. Leadership styles can be authoritative, autocratic, or transformational. Participative leadership, an approach that encourages employee and team member contributions to decisions, is crucial for companies to achieve and maintain success. Effective leaders can vary among individuals and organizations, making participative leadership a valuable tool for business success.

Participative Leadership

Participative leadership involves workers providing feedback on business decisions, with a majority vote deciding the action plan. This approach can be slow but has numerous benefits, including increasing job satisfaction among creative and face-to-face teams. Participative leaders deal directly with their team members, developing partnerships and connections, unlike autocratic leadership, where leaders focus on problems without asking for feedback.

Participative leadership encourages meaningful engagement from all employees in decision-making processes, often seeking the opinions of staff and ensuring minority voices are represented. This leadership style fosters a sense of inclusion and helps build a participatory business culture, fostering increased employee engagement and ownership. The characteristics of a participative leader can be better understood through recognizing the characteristics of a participative leader. Overall, participatory leadership is an effective approach for any group or organization.

Characteristics of Participative Leadership

To be able to do this, an active leader needs to have the following traits.

Talking to people

Communication is one of the most important parts of the collaborative leadership style. Leaders and subordinates should talk to each other so that ideas can run freely without disagreements. This makes the workplace more productive. This can be done well by a boss who encourages participation.


A active leader is someone willing to listen and give advice that will help the group or community do well. They help boost confidence by listening to what people under them have to say and then adding it to the plan.


Leaders who encourage participation are always looking for new ways to solve problems. Put another way, they are naturally interested, making them want to “explore more.” To stay in line with the past, they will never give up on an idea and will always be on the lookout for new ways to do things.

Trying to help

Employees will feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and giving the company new ideas if they are encouraged to do so. This is something that participatory leaders are very good at.

Working together

A lot of the time, collaboration—or the lack of it—sets a good participative leadership style apart from one that leads to pointless competition. A good participatory leader uses teamwork to bring people and ideas together in unique ways for different projects. Bringing together people with different backgrounds and points of view will help achieve previously unattainable goals.

Ready for anything

A collaborative leader ensures everyone is happy by looking at different ways to get things done and ideas.

In real life, democratic leadership works well because it gets everyone on the team involved in making decisions. If the boss believes in his employees and tells them they can solve these problems, the team will be motivated because they will know that their ideas are valued and their skills are acknowledged, which will push them to do their best.

How to Implement This Type of Leadership

This type of leadership can apply to individual leadership styles or formal leadership approaches within an organisation. Typically, when deciding on actions and implementing them, it may include these steps:

1. Initiating group discussions

The initial state of a participative decision process is the group’s involvement in an open discussion. A leader typically organises this discussion and gathers a group of relevant individuals to take part. The leader typically introduces the purpose of the conversation and gives the background of the problem or decision that the discussion affects. Frequently, the leader acts as a facilitator of the discussion, controlling the timeline and giving participants roles. While the leader handles the organisation of the conversation, the focus typically is on eliciting ideas and views from the group.

2. Providing information

The next phase of the decision-making process is providing information pertaining to the decision. Once the group discussion starts, the leader explains the current state of affairs, for example, a challenge to the company’s business or a change in the market forces affecting the industry. This phase of the process helps create consensus for the group about the starting conditions of the conversation. It ensures that every participant works from a shared understanding of the situation or challenge.

3. Sharing of ideas and insights

The next phase of this process is sharing unique perspectives, ideas and insights. This collective sharing of experience is a key feature of participative leadership. While several participative leadership styles exist, this core principle of collective sharing is always present. This collective sharing is a key advantage of this leadership style, allowing for understanding from multiple people to go beyond the expertise of any single individual. As the group compiles the collective ideas and insights from the group, they form a shared understanding of the situation and explore the complexities of the issue at hand.

4. Processing the presented information

As the group builds up a shared library of concerns, ideas and insights regarding the problem will likely fall into distinct categories. Once the stream of new ideas feels comprehensive, the group moves on to the next phase of the decision-making process. Here, the group seeks to organise and prioritise the ideas generated by a previous phase. The leader or a group of participants, working with the rest of the group, organise and group the ideas. They summarise the ideas presented and structure the information into categories.

5. Evaluating the ideas presented

Once the group sorts the information and proposed approaches into categories, it collectively evaluates the merit of the ideas. Depending on the process used and the facilitator, the group may formally evaluate ideas based on a system or rubric or arrive at the preferred solutions during a free-form group discussion. Once the group evaluated the ideas and allowed all members to participate and contribute, they moved on to the decision-making phase.

6. Agreeing on a decision

In this decision-making phase, the group arrives at a course of action. Depending on the style of participative leadership, the group may take a vote on the decision, or give the leader the final decision after taking into consideration the group’s contributions. Once the group decides, it’s typical for the group to expect the full participation and endorsement of every member. This approach to decision-making seeks to include as many views and perspectives on the subject.

7. Listening to all views

Once the group considers and discusses the views of everyone, it’s often easier to persuade those disagreeing with the chosen approach to take part in the solution that the group picked. This feature is a significant advantage of participative leadership. It allows a stronger sense of ownership of any decision of the group by every member of the group. By driving individual engagement in creating goals and action decisions, the group spends less effort on enforcing decisions, relying on the motivation of individual actors instead.

8. Implementing the decided action

Once the group decides on a course of action, the group of the leader assigns roles and tasks to implement this decision. Depending on the particular participative leadership style, the leadership or a project manager may assign specific tasks and define key performance indicators or other success metrics. Some groups may go through a collective process to assign specific tasks, encouraging volunteering and group consensus. In other cases, a project manager or technical expert may decide on assignments based on the group members’ experience and merit.


Where is participative leadership most effective?

Participative leadership is effective in teams with education and experience, where fresh ideas are sought. It’s beneficial in environments valuing creativity, collaboration, and employee well-being. However, it’s less effective when members aren’t invested, or when quick decisions are needed.

What is the difference between participative leadership and democratic leadership?

Participative and democratic leadership styles involve team members in decision-making, with participative leadership involving the leader making the final decision and incorporating group members’ ideas, while democratic leadership involves a vote where each team member has equal say in the final decision.

What are the 5 ways to become a participative leader?

Participative leadership involves being a good listener, empathetic, flexible, transparent, and team-oriented. It encourages engagement, creativity, and morale, but may not work in fast-paced environments or lead to increased stress. Leaders should be open to change, share information honestly, and prioritize team success over personal glory.

What are the strengths of participative leadership?

Participative leadership is an effective leadership style that encourages employee engagement, collaboration, and teamwork. It values diverse skills, improves decision-making, invests in employees, and aligns with organizational objectives. However, it can be challenging to implement due to strong communication, trust, and delegating responsibilities. It may also be time-consuming due to the need for diverse perspectives.


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