When Captain Picard sits at his desk and polls his officers as to what they should do next, he is engaging in textbook democratic leadership. This is good for leaders who have enough trust in their team to trust their input. That said, democracies still need leaders, and democratic leaders never forget who’s in charge. A captain still has final say on a ship, and democratic leaders can and should have a major say in what happens with their company. Still, if you have a circle of colleagues whom you trust, this can be a great way of eliciting the best out of them, thus charting the best course for your company.
To lead is to serve. That’s the governing ethos behind this management style. You are less a lordly master than you are the Jeeves of the office, giving everyone the tools and answers they need to succeed. This leadership style can certainly be demanding, and it demands that you be a good people person and have a lot of energy. If those descriptors fit you, however, the benefits of this style can be immense, as these leaders can do wonders for team morale as well as for keeping employees focused and giving as much to a given project as they themselves do.
For as good as it is to have a leader who’s engaged, there is such a thing as being too “hands-on.” Nobody wants to work for a micromanaging autocratic control freak, which is why the opposite in a laissez-faire-style leader can be so refreshing. These leaders give something to their employees that those micromanagers never give – trust. Being hands-off means trusting other people to get the job done. Moreover, it means deferring more to their particular work style. If you have a workforce that you can trust and is made up of those who want or need more freedom (for example, remote workers), this leadership style may mesh perfectly with them.
These are the people who are able to talk the talk as well as walk the walk. Their silver tongues present them with golden opportunities, and the same holds true for the people who follow them to success. Working for a leader like this, employees don’t feel as though they’re merely part of a company or organization headed by a boss – they feel like they’re truly “part of something bigger,” led by a true “leader.” Needless to say, when done right, this can lead to immense satisfaction on the part of employees, who can feel motivated by their charisma as well as the self-confidence it can instill within themselves.