Democratic Leadership: The most effective Leadership Style for School Heads

By: Admin 12 September, 2017

We have previously talked about various effective leadership styles in a school environment. The Principal of a school has, no doubt, lots of responsibilities to manage on a daily basis. And it is not an easy job. One needs to realise that they can do anything, but they cannot do everything.


An effective leader is someone who has a certain level of influence over a group of people. The one important aspect to remember is a good leader does not need a title to identify him or her as a leader. All that person has to do is have the ability to influence others for a common goal.



When should you implement a Democratic Leadership?


When the next steps that an organization must take are unclear, it can help to bring in a Democratic Leadership. This type of leadership uses input from the team’s individual and collective skill set and acumen to work out the best decisions going forward. It can be a powerful way to realise the potential within teams and organisations.


By definition, democratic leadership involves the redistribution of authority and power between staff to provide employee involvement in the process of decision making.




Why should you implement a Democratic Leadership?


The techniques used in democratic leadership play a significant role in creating job satisfaction, since a sense of autonomy, control and participation is fostered within the democratic leadership style. Greater participation from staff during the decision-making process could also result in more creative solutions to address problems and serve the institution better.



Here are advantages of applying Democratic Leadership:


  1. Strong Teams

Team members under democratic leadership tend to be supportive and strong. Honesty flourishes and more collective working is done because the opinions of everyone are taken into consideration. Democratic leaders are usually popular within the organization.


  1. Solving Complex Issues

Democratic leaders are typically excellent at solving complex issues. They have the ability to work collaboratively, using a consensus of opinions to get things done the right way. The democratic leader often thinks innovatively and encourages others to do the same, so that solutions to complex and strategic problems can be found.


  1. Promoting Creative Environments

Democratic leaders effectively foster creative environments since they encourage the input and innovation of team members. Creative designers succeed under democratic leadership because of the support and nurture that is embodied in this leadership approach.


While democratic leadership has been described as the most effective leadership style, it does have some potential downsides. In situations where roles are unclear or time is of the essence, democratic leadership can lead to communication failures and uncompleted projects. In some cases, group members may not have the necessary knowledge or expertise to make quality contributions to the decision-making process.


How can you implement a Democratic Leadership?


Establishing a democratic leadership model in an institution is not an easy thing to do. But, it is possible to ensure the leader can make this leadership style to work. Below are the steps to follow:


  1. Open and Honest Communication: It’s crucial for the leader to take in and give fair criticism without it causing a problem. For this kind of communication to work, the leader must establish trust with subordinates and show consistency and fairness in his or her decisions.

  1. Respect for all ideas: As a leader, you shouldn’t turn away an idea only because it isn’t relevant for the moment. You don’t want to spend too much time talking about issues that aren’t relevant, but you also don’t want to dismiss suggestions straight away.

  1. Commitment to decisions & Explanation of roles: The democratic leadership framework works the best when roles and responsibilities are outlined clearly. One of the key reasons behind clarified processes is to ensure people stay on-topic. The leader must ensure the conversation stays within the framework and the discussion is flowing towards a solution for the problem at hand.


Majority of organizations generally use the democratic leadership style. There are good results garnered from democratic leaders, which is evident in the level of satisfaction among staff that takes place in such an environment. However, the democratic leadership approach will not always get the job done. A democratic leader will have to learn how to put his or her foot down and come to a decision in certain situations.