A consultative or democratic leader takes decisions in consultation and participation with the subordinates. He decentralizes authority and allows the subordinates to share his power. The leader does what the group wants and follows the majority opinion. He keeps the followers informed about matters affecting them. A democratic leader provides freedom of thinking and expression. He listens to the suggestions, grievances and opinions of the subordinates.
Advantages of Democratic or Participative Leadership
- Consultative leadership improves the job satisfaction and morale of subordinates.
- It cultivates the decision-making ability of subordinates.
- The leader multiplies his abilities through the contribution of his followers,
- It develops positive attitudes of the leader and reduces resistance to change.
- The quality of decisions is improved.
- Labour absenteeism and labour turnover are reduced .
Disadvantages of Democratic or Participative Leadership
- Democratic style is time-consuming and may result in delays in decision-making.
- It may not yield positive results when subordinates prefer minimum interaction with the leader.
- Over a period of time subordinates may develop the habit of expecting to be consulted.
- Consultation may be interpreted as a sign of incompetence on the part of the leader to deal with problems.
- It may be used as a means of passing the buck to others and abdicating responsibility.
- It requires considerable communicating and persuasive skills on the part of the leader.
Participative leadership is considered to be more effective than autocratic style though there is no empirical-proof for this. Consultative style is more compatible with the prevailing value system which favours freedom of expression and independent thinking. The choice of leadership style depends upon the immediate goal and on the subordinates. If the immediate goal is increase in productivity or subordinates have low need for independence, autocratic style may be preferable. But when the goal is job satisfaction and employees have a high need for independence, consultative style may be more effective. Consultative style is also appropriate where subordinates have accepted the goals of the organisation and the leader really wants to share decision-making with the subordinates.