Are You A Democratic Leader?

We could say that Democracy is a form of government that allows citizens to participate in the proposal, development and establishment of the laws by which their society is run.

Democracy protects human rights and represents the common interest of the general public better than any other form of government tried before; that´s why Democracy has become the most popular form of government in almost 100% of developed countries.

Thus, it seems that everyone agrees with the fact that establishing a Democracy is the most fair way to rule a society.

What are the alternatives to Democracy?

Aristocracy and Dictatorship are the main alternative forms of government tried in the past.

ARISTOCRACY: Originally, leadership by a small privileged class or a minority thought to be best qualified to lead. Most aristocracies have been hereditary, and many societies stratified their aristocratic classes by formally titling their members.

DICTATORSHIP: Form of government in which one person possesses absolute power without effective constitutional checks. Dictators usually use their force to gain power and then keep it through intimidation and terror.

What is the most extended form of government – leadership – in the corporate world?

Thus, based on the three forms of government described in the lines above, the question becomes:

What is the most extended form of government – leadership – in the corporate world?

And moreover, If most people – including business leaders from all over the world – declare themselves supporters of democracy as the best way to rule a society, why the corporate world is so aristocratic or even dictatorial sometimes?

Leadership in the corporate world.

Let´s look now at the most extended form of leadership – or government – in the business world and the key reasons why Democracy does not seem to be very present in the way companies are being ruled.

Reason # 1. Participation.

A high percentage (almost 85% in USA) of employees declare themselves blind when it comes to their understanding of where their companies are being taken. Most corporate leaders do not communicate their plans to the lower layers in the organization.

Most employees in the world do not have the right to participate in the proposal, development and establishment of plans and policies affecting the way their companies are being ruled. A small minority (Elite) decides about all norms, policies and rules affecting the vast majority of people and their lives.

Reason # 2. Power.

There seems to be an increasing number of complaints, from employees around the world, about too many bullies and micromanagers using their “force” to gain more power and keep it through mistreatment, intimidation, and the terror to lose the job.

Too many employees feel that they can´t express their ideas openly, as they fear that if they do, they will lose their jobs immediately or will be seen as a negative influence, which will lead them to isolation and separation from the group.

Reason # 3. Common interests.

Almost 100% of companies utilize titles and bands to stratify employee classes, benefits, salary levels, etc. The gap between the lowest and highest salaries continues to increase every year. In most developed countries, executive´s salaries are between 35 and 150 times the lowest salary in the organization.

Most companies are ruled by a very small “elite”. Many promotions to senior roles are assigned based on connections within the elite. Thousands of people relate career success to gaining access to the elite.

Is it time for change?

It seems quite clear that most of the times, the corporate world is anything but democratic, which seems quite paradoxical when, on the other hand, there is a generalized idea that democracy is the best form of government any society can adopt.

Some management theories promote a more democratic leadership style, such as the“Managing without Managers” theories developed in the late 80´s and early 90´s, which are being revisited and adopted by some companies, in an effort to increase people engagement levels, and as a result differentiate and grow.

We talk a lot about poor leadership and employee disengagement, but the first step to becoming a leader is to have followers, and people only follow and engage with those whom help them fulfill their needs.

If we all agree that democracy has brought well-being and growth to all developed civil societies which adopted it as their form of government, why the corporate world seems so reluctant to become more democratic?

How can you become a democratic business leader?

Whether you are new manager or a senior leader, becoming more democratic will help you improve people engagement, and well as your image as a thoughtful and insightful leader. Someone your people will be willing to follow and support.

Democratic Leadership tips:

# 1: Encourage your people to participate in the design, development and implementation of Cultural norms and strategic decisions.

# 2. Allow your people to speak up fearlessly, and express their ideas freely. Empower your people and trust their self-judgement when it comes to making critical decisions.

# 3. Try to identify common interests, define joint goals and reward collective efforts towards the achievement of corporate goals.

Treat your people like if they make a difference, and they will! – Jim Goodnight. CEO, SAS

I hope you enjoyed the reading. If so, don´t forget to click on “Like” and share it with others who may find it useful.

I will love it if you take a minute to comment on this article. That´s the best encouragement to continue to write and share knowledge.

You may also like to read my recent posts on Linkedin.

Jordi is the Managing Principal Consultant at Key Strategic Chain Solutions, a management consulting firm specializing in Executive Coaching, Organizational Strategy and Portfolio Management.

Best regards,

Jordi Alemany


About Jordi Alemany

I am a multi-cultural and multi-lingual (English, Spanish, Catalan and Italian) executive coach and management consultant, specializing in Humanistic Leadership, Organizational Strategy, and Portfolio Management disciplines. I am an energetic, creative and resourceful, with an innate passion for helping others reach their full potential.
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