When Participative Leadership Results in Indecisive Leadership

Participative leadership is where a leader consults with and encourages subordinates’ participation in the decision-making process. Participative leaders have a tendency to seek feedback from those who report to them and taking their suggestions into account before making decisions (Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn, 2008). While it is not necessary to always consult with others, there are advantages in soliciting subordinates’ advice, namely better decisions and greater acceptance of decisions (Yukl, 2010).

However, participative leadership is ineffective if any of the following occurs (Yukl, 2010):

  1. the subordinates don’t all share the leader’s objectives,
  2. the subordinates don’t want to take responsibility for helping to make decisions,
  3. the subordinates distrust the leader, or
  4. if there’s a time crunch (difficult to track everyone down) making it impractical to consult with individuals or hold group meetings.

When a leader constantly asks for subordinates’ input, it communicates to employees, and even those observing from outside the company, that the leader’s style is counterproductive to getting things accomplished, and achieving stated goals and objectives in a timely manner.

References

Schermerhorn, J.R., Hunt, J.G., & Osborn, R.N. (2008). Organizational behavior (10th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Yukl, G. (2010). Leadership in organizations (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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