Are leadership and democracy truly compatible?
Can true democracy really be practiced in a business? Would one employee – one vote make it possible not only to run a company but also make sure it’s profitable? Definitely, if you are a small jointly owned company. But how about a huge multinational with say, 250,000 employees?
Imagine if all employees had to vote before a decision was made. Everybody would be looking after number one and the company would not only be ungovernable but lose money as well.
Fair decisions based on dialogue
Different stake holders should have their say and to aim for fair and emphatic decisions based on dialogue is definitely not only possible, but already practised in a multitude of companies.
Democracy – next fad in leadership theories?
With all the current emphasis on empathy in leadership I can’t help wondering if democratic leadership will soon become fashionable? The timing is right because many employees feel they have been badly treated by management during the current economic crisis.
Leaders are solely responsible
As a leader you are responsible to the board, share holders and all employees. There are no excuses for chosing the wrong path. You, and only you, are accountable and pay the price if your decisions fail. Or as President Truman put it, the buck stops with you.
Show me a truly democratic government
In all democratic countries politicians are elected because they promise the electorate they will do X,Y and Z. However, once in power they frequently proceed with doing something else. Sometimes because they discover that what they would like to do isn’t possible for, usually, financial or legal reasons. Isn’t democracy more of a concept than reality? How much say does the electorate really have? The fact that a lot of politicians say what the electorate wants to hear and then do something else, doesn’t help. To get votes by pretending you stand for something you don’t is not what democracy should be about. But that is what happens in most countries.
In fact I don’t believe you can find any democratically elected government in the world that hasn’t failed to deliver on quite a few of their promises. As we all know, private companies operating that way would eventually cease to exist.
Staff can’t have more influence than board and shareholders
It’s impossible to allow employees to have more impact on decision making than the owners and board of directors do.
Sometimes taking decisions can be severely difficult and you will have to defend them not only to shareholders but colleagues as well. It’s particularly hard if you don’t agree with some of the decisions implemented. But you still have to be able to handle criticism for them and make sure as many as possible understand, accept and are motivated by your decisions.
Do you believe perfect democracy exists in any company or government in the world? How much more democratic can the corporate world get without jeopardizing the businesses? Is it possible to ever satisfy all and sundry and still be profitable and grow? A bit of a Catch 22, isn’t it?
(Photo: yeowatzup – flickr)