In an ultra-competitive environment, business leaders can’t afford to ignore competitive advantages. Quality leadership is a key ingredient in the success of a business, and it's crucial that, as a business owner, you know how best to exercise that role. Knowledge and use of participative leadership can give you a competitive edge.
Two heads are better than one, goes an old saying. Since no manager knows all the answers, it’s helpful and sometimes even critical to consult with others when making important decisions. This is especially crucial when your decisions will directly affect the people in your organization. Your employees’ input may prove invaluable when you need to solve problems. When you allow your employees to help you make decisions, the quality of your organization’s decisions improves.
When you give employees a say in the decisions that affect them, they feel valued. Their active and useful participation beyond their everyday duties and tasks empowers them. They feel co-responsible for making things work and deciding how things are done. This feeling is of great value, because it makes acceptance of final decisions easier. Since employees shared in getting to that final decision, they claim an emotional stake in the process when it is time to implement these decisions. This is because employees believe that you genuinely considered their input.
Participative leadership gives employees a sense of purpose, meaning and belonging. This can go far beyond what would have been the case if they had merely been limited to just performing their jobs. Obtaining your employees' involvement helps to foster understanding and thereby commitment. This, of course, leads to improved motivation, which makes all the difference in getting employees to work just enough to get by or satisfy minimum expectations and getting them to perform outstandingly.
Consultation with employees works best under certain circumstances. Employees with specialized knowledge and extensive experience bring more to the table and, therefore, can contribute more to making the best decision. In general, participative leadership is ideal when you expect employees to take on complex and mentally taxing tasks. Time pressure is another constraint to participative leadership. It takes time to get information from employees and then analyze the information you receive. If you are short on time, your best bet may be to make a decision on your own.