Participative leadership is a leadership theory Essay

Participative leadership is a leadership theory which postulates that a working leadership style is one that effectively involves and appreciates the contributions of every organizational stakeholder, however little it may be. Though the leader has the overall responsibility of coordinating  organization activities and members’  roles, the theory requires that each member is made to feel as part as part and parcel of the organization through proactive involvement in relevant decision making. Braden argues that the major principle of participative leadership style is identified by the extent and nature of lower ranking employees’ involvement in decision making process by the management, (Braden, 2000).

Accordingly, the specific  principles of participative leadership include; availing of a tentative solution subject to change based on employee input by manager, solicitation of employees’ input, and definition of the limits of the problem as related to employees’ decision ,  ( Braden,2000). The last principle is characterized by the joint decision made by both employees and the management which is agreeable to both the parties.  The other notable principles are; formation of teams which are given some authority, the leader acts as the team leader and facilities the process of decision making, ensured equal opportunity to share ideas , emphasis on creativity and innovation and seeking of followers’ input, (Harford, 2008).

The participative leadership theory requires that the  organizational leader needs to understand  and implement genuine subordinates’ involvement in decision making , to fulfill the concept of   “the need to be involved in decision-making — the desire to be heard — to have our brains used –to not be told what to do and how to do it”, ( Braden,2000). The other action is to critically examine the employees’ desire to be involved in decision making and perception of work, attitude towards the management and the relationship between work and day to day lives. It is the duty of the leader to understand individual differences and take appropriate actions in employee involvement in decision making.   The need for  the deliberate  action to acquire more knowledge more so about expected leadership styles in other cultures  has been rendered critical in this leadership theory by  globalization  and the role of  cross- cultural leadership competence which   provide organizational leaders frameworks and guidelines for  leading  employees in different cultures, (Wu, 2006).

In my organization, the dominant cultures are: following protocol, hierarchical reporting relationships and emphasis on total quality management practices. The culture therefore puts the top management at the apex of decision making and customers’ feedback as the reference point for need to improve in specific areas of the management.   The success of the participative leadership approach in my organization can therefore be reflected in this culture.

By involving employees and management  in decision making  and leadership , the organization’s principal cultures are perpetuated as the  process is structured in a manner that enhances employees’ commitment to the work and to customers’ satisfaction, ,( Braden,2000).   Wu further argues that participatory leadership can be reliably analyzed from a cultural perspective as it is presented as a culturally bordered leadership style which exhibits model of two- way communication. The collaborative decision making culture has therefore ensured success  of the participative  leadership style as formation of quality improvement committees every time a service improvement process is necessary, what is now part and parcel of every major decision making process.

If an organization has a problem with absenteeism, the leader who practices participative leadership needs to find out the cause of the problem through effective communication since it may be a symptom of a major problem that may be detrimental to organizational success.  Such strategic communication which should be in line with the organization’s policies need to consider the relationship between job satisfaction and the attitudinal effect of participation, (Wu, 2006). The leader also needs to take into consideration the importance of employees’ personal development and need to put in place flexible measures which enhance opportunities for employees to attain individual and organization goals.

The leader may also employ consultative participative leadership in an attempt to find out the cause of absenteeism by seeking employees’ opinions, noting the issues raised and then uses the input as information seeking chance before making the final decision, (Harford, 2008).

Another option is to employ the democratic participative leadership where after getting the employees’ input, the leader creatively allow the teams to make decisions which would address the root cause of the absenteeism conclusively


Braden .2000.  Participative leadership. Retrieved February 19, 2009. Available Online:


Wu, Ming-Yi. 2006. Compare Participative leadership  Theories in Three Cultures . Retrieved

February 19, 2009. Available online <>

Harford. 2008. Principles of Supervision. Retrieved February 19, 2009. Available online: