How to Motivate Staff the Democratic Way

How to Motivate Staff the Democratic Way


Research postulates that compared to the other many leadership styles, “democratic leadership” tends to be the most effective style when motivating subordinates to perform their duties.

Democratic leadership, also known as participative leadership or shared leadership, is a type of leadership that employees take a more “hands-on approach” in the decision-making process.

Under democratic leadership, leaders involve their employees by asking employees their opinions, usually via a survey or during a staff meeting.

Democratic Leaders consider feedback from employees by pondering similar questions such as follows:

“What support do you expect from me as your leader?”

“How may you help me carryout my vision for the company?”

“What suggestions do you have to help improve our organizational structure?”

Including employees in the decision-making process promotes a partnership between the leader and her employees, and by strengthening loyalty among all employees, by executing the leader’s vision, happiness is most likely to embrace all partners involved.

Democratic leaders promote novel ideas to maintain employees’ interests and concerns, and leaders want to know directly from their employees their personal preferences for job satisfaction, so that they may help provide their wishes.

According to seminal research, “recognition and appreciation” is number one in keeping staff satisfied. Recognition can be as simple as greeting a staff by her name or praising an employee in front of his peers.

Appreciation is often effective when it is shown by a personal “thank you” from the boss. An email or a note left in an employee’s box to mention the good deed. Or, giving a small gift—gas card, lunch card, or a day off from work: These “appreciation” ideas rank strongly by employees that “this kindness makes me happy.”

In return, Democratic Leadership allows employees to support their leader by looking out for her welfare, by speaking fairly about her during a leader’s evaluation.

Because of the partnership between staff and leader, employees own the responsibility to conduct their duties wisely in the manner agreed upon for the success of the company, and the leader owns the responsibility to ensure his employees’ success under his leadership.

In essence, employees desire HONESTY from their leaders. They wish to understand what is happening in the organization, and they want to be given the chance to participate in the problem-solving scheme.

Employees expect their leader to be FAIR and to hold everyone accountable to the same rules and standards.

Employees also desire TRUST from their leader, believing that their leader has their best interest at heart.

On the other hand, research posits that a leader expects employees to show him or her RESPECT. Acknowledging the leader by citing his title and name— “Mr. Cameron, thank you,” “Sir Rogers, I appreciate you,” or “How may I help you, Principal Taylor?”

By citing his or her respectful name or title through gladness and authority gives the leader a confirmation of the employee’s democratic partnership: It is known as respect.

Dependability is another expectation that a leader expects from his employees. When a person is hired as an employee, the leader relies on the employee to complete his job. The employee is expected to be timely and nearly perfect in implementing his duties. A leader can relax to focus on other important duties when he has one less problem—employee—to worry about.

While a myriad of leadership styles is used by different bosses, the one that most people prefer is the democratic style. Almost everybody wishes to be heard. Almost everybody wishes to be recognized. Almost everybody wishes to participate.

Democratic style leadership empowers employees and offers them the opportunity to share input with their boss. That partnership style is the democratic leadership way.


To enhance the democratic leadership style, below are suggestions for the leader and her staff.

  1. Always acknowledge the leader with kindness and respect, and always acknowledge employees with polite authority and decorum.
  2. Always keep the leader informed of potential problems, and always keep employees informed of potential work problems involving them.
  3. Always ask staff how you may help them succeed in your organization, and always ask the leader how you may help to support his vision.
  4. Always remain vigilant and visible around your employees, and always show up to work and conduct your duties as employee.
  5. Always share good news first, and then share bad news last, such as in a case of permanently closing a business, “I am so sorry, but you are the best, and I thank you.”

Cynthia Mathews, Ed.D. (2020)





Published by cynthiamathews

I'm an innovative spirit, one who seeks new and practical ways to learn about life. I enjoy exploring innovative styles to motivate people to persevere in a challenging world. Having a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Curriculum & Instruction, I am inspired to maintain a life long learning experience that will allow me to share my knowledge with others. My expertise includes detecting apathy in individuals and prescribing ways to motivate them to be their best. To initiate this endeavor, I create and conduct personal and professional development programs. I write briefs and pamphlets and instructional guides to inspire, and I speak--upon request--to those who need a reminder of their inner excellence. My blog's main focus is to document my research on motivation and curriculum instruction and to share with subscribers the understanding, the ideas, and the strategies that result from my research. I am a native of Alabama, a teacher, and an author. I look forward to learning with you.