The Collective Participative
Decision Making Style
Versus Other Styles

The collective participative decision making style is perhaps the most common style of decision making employed by leaders. Others include the democratic, consensus and autocratic decision making styles. Here we will have a look at each, noting their uses as well as the pros and cons.


Collective participative style

The collective participative decision making style indicates that the leader is involving the members of the organization. The level of involvement includes the members sharing information, ideas and perceptions with the leader.

However, the leader alone makes the decision which means he or she keeps total control. The leader is also solely responsible for the decision and it's consequences.

The Pros

The members have some input into the decision and have a sense of involvement. This is particularly useful if there are potential negative consequences for the members. The leader has access to alternative perspectives and is better informed when making the decision. When the members are notified before the decision is implemented there are no surprises and the sense of involvement is often enhanced.

The Cons

The main disadvantage to the collective participative decision making style is that it can be a slow and time intensive process. If security is an issue, this style may be inappropriate because so many people are involved from an early stage.


Autocratic decision making style

This style is similar to the collective participative decision making style in that the leader keeps total control (and so responsibility) of the decision. The difference is that s/he does not seek information from the members of the group. Rather the leader's own perceptions and knowledge are used to decide.

This style is useful in emergency situations because one of the advantages is that the decision making process can be very rapid. Another plus is that it's clear where the responsibility lies.

The obvious disadvantages result from the members not being included, and they may resent the decision if they are adversely affected. The leader may lose support and credibility.

Democratic decision making style

In contrast to the collective participative decision making style, in this style the leader transfers the onus for the decision to the group. The group votes and the majority will lead.

In favour of this style is that the decision can be fairly rapid and the whole group participates.

A major inhibitory factor here is that there may be no responsibility taken for the decision. The leader is not responsible and even the group can deny responsibility because members can claim that they did not vote for the decision.


Consensus decision making style

This style means that every member of the group has to buy into the decision. The leader transfers control to the group. Unlike the autocratic and collective participative styles, the leader is no longer responsible for the decision and it's consequences.

The obvious advantages are group commitment, team spirit and a large amount of information and ideas which usually lead to a higher probability of success.

This amount of information and input is also it's major disadvantage because it can take considerable time and effort to get everyone organized and on board. Failure to do so can mean a switch to the democratic or even the collective participative decision making style.

Other Styles

There are other styles of decision making that are usually applied to 'non-leadership' situations. However, it is possible to overlay some of these styles to leadership situations.

Studies through time show that workers want to have a say in many of their workplace decisions, such as how the jobs are organized, or how problems in their work environment are solved.

They are not so keen to be involved at high level strategic business decisions, unless it is about new technologies in the workplace. They want a voice when they perceive a link between strategic decisions and their own long term interests.

It would seem that the collective participative decision making style would be appropriate in these situations.

Leadership decision making can also be categorized in other ways...

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