Participative Leadership

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As a part of the panel on the Leadership Platform, on the Un-Radio show on, we often discuss the deficit in Leadership, this deficit is always defined as and related to a lack of trust within organisations.

Trust – You either have it or you don’t

“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life.” – Golda Meir

What is trust? Very simply, trust starts with us. When we trust ourselves, we are able to trust others. Trusting ourselves begins when we see ourselves as worthy. Considering that trust is needed to be able to love, it follows that when we are able to trust ourselves, we are able to love ourselves. In turn, we can love and care for others.

Let’s look at that one line again: ‘Trusting ourselves begins when we see ourselves as worthy’. Could it be that leaders do not see themselves as worthy? Perhaps they are not feeling worthy of the title they have been given? Perhaps it is because they feel they have been overpaid and feel pressurised to deliver more than they are capable of delivering? Perhaps it is simply because they do not see themselves as worthy?

In cases in my experience it is very difficult to trust someone if you don’t know them fully and if you don’t truly understand who they are. In most cases I find this true of ineffective leaders that I have worked with, the root cause of their ineffectiveness is an inability to understand themselves.

When they discover themselves, they see their own worth and are able to understand themselves, they are less intimidated by the strengths of others and they use the strengths of others effectively to achieve the results for their teams.

Everything is about Leadership

Although the word participative implies sharing, it’s still the leader’s duty to ensure that the vision and the goals are communicated effectively. It is in this communication process that further trust is built-in the leader himself and in the team. When the leader allows others to do what they say they are going to do, he shows trust not only in the person, but in himself by allowing the person the space to ‘do it their way’ instead of dictating the way it should be done. If this is not the case the trust is immediately broken and the leader has simply relinquished his position as a leader and has become a manager of a system.

After all we don’t necessarily dislike the person, we often dislike the system they are trying to force us to use, thus not allowing us to think for ourselves and be more creative in our approach.

My question then, to you the reader, is would you like to be a leader who allows people to participate or do you simply want to be known as a manager who only respects the system and not the people? Remember people are your only assets that can appreciate, if you see them as anything less, they will go to the organisations that will appreciate them.

Let’s open this discussion … I would really appreciate your comments, especially your participation.

Photo credit: Cydcor / Foter / CC BY

About RichSimmondsZA

Retired but still Disruptive
This entry was posted in LEADERSHIP and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Participative Leadership

  1. Great article, thank you. I think self doubt in leaders is often caused by the mistaken belief that you need to be able to demonstrate superior operational efficiency and instruct the way forward to win the trust of peers. Effective leadership is about recognizing the responsibility to bring out the best in others. As a leader you will do well when you allow yourself enough time to observe your team at work so that you can identify the strengths. Once you’ve done this you are able to effectively draw on the respective strengths of each individual. By acknowledging their talents, you restore the faith in their own ability as well as the trust in your judgement, a key element in leadership.


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