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Strengths and Weaknesses of a Democratic Leadership Style

In the workplace, leadership style can be as personal as individual leaders, but styles do tend to fall into three main categories: authoritative, laissez-faire and democratic.

Manhattan College's online Master's in Organizational Leadership will give you the skills to unlock your leadership potential, but here, we look at the strengths and weaknesses of the democratic leadership model.

Democratic Characteristics

A democratic leader brings together people from different levels of an organization to work together toward solving problems or meeting goals.

This leader emphasizes a shared approach to decision-making and will often seek input from everyone on a project team in order to reach a consensus.


With this leadership style, employees often feel heard and valued. They believe their decisions and ideas have equal weight to everyone else.

This sense of empowerment can prompt considerable creativity and innovation since team members are assured “there are no bad ideas.” This gives them confidence and is a significant morale booster. 

Democratic leadership works especially well in teams where each worker has specialized experience and can articulate their ideas clearly. The leader can bring out the best of their insights and use those to keep a project moving forward.


Although there may be room for creativity with democratic leadership, there are also some drawbacks to this approach.

Most notably, inexperienced team members may feel that they aren’t getting enough guidance on specific tasks.

Projects may also get delayed through all the efforts toward consensus building. Not everyone will agree on everything all the time. Trying to align team members who disagree can be a thankless, time-consuming task that may negatively affect morale in the long run.

Career Tracks

The democratic leadership style can be in demand in several job roles, particularly with distributed workforces and the need for more team building.

Project team leaders benefit from having this style, as well as some C-level executive positions like a chief marketing officer, chief technology officer and chief innovation officer.

Any position that involves directing a team in which ideas need to flow freely would benefit from a democratic leader.

Leadership Education

To learn more about your leadership style and the strengths and areas of opportunity associated with each, take the Leadership Quiz from Manhattan College.

Even if you feel that you’re leaning more toward one approach or another, it can be helpful to develop more expertise around all leadership styles. Recognizing their differences can help you cultivate your own style as well as work with other leaders in more efficient ways.

The Online M.S. in Organizational Leadership from Manhattan College provides insights about different leadership styles and offers collaborative, experiential learning paired with skills that can be used in real-life career settings. This standout combination results not just in a roadmap for leadership but the roadmap you need to succeed.

To learn about Manhattan College’s Online Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership, request information or call (855) 841-2843 to speak with Admissions.