Many people don’t realize how technology has transformed the way CEOs manage their firms, enabling (or, in some circumstances, requiring) them to take a more democratic approach.
Consider how social media and messaging tools such as Slack have influenced your life. They have altered how you obtain information, connect with friends and coworkers, and even impact your behavior. They’ve done the same for business, charity, and government leaders, broadening their perspectives beyond personal experience. Or even a rehab team.
How Democratic Leadership sweats the small things
Democratic leadership manifests itself in a variety of ways. It is, at its heart, a participatory management method that actively solicits feedback from subordinates. Group members are constantly involved in decision-making, maybe via a platform where they can discuss their goals, wants, thoughts, and preferences. We often expect leaders to follow the group’s will, and if they move too far from the people’s goals, they may face the consequences.
Understanding that individual acts influence the collective is one of the pillars of democracy. Therefore there is an implicit social compact for everyone to consider the larger good in each recommendation and choice. This is why responsible corporate citizenship is becoming more crucial for changing the world and keeping customers happy.
How Can Technology Help to Democratize Leadership?
Thanks to online forms and surveys, employee feedback is now simpler than ever, yet this is just the most basic illustration of technology’s influence on leadership. I’ve discovered that organizations with a democratic internal structure frequently have an easier time operating democratically in their communities. The following are some of the outcomes of organizations that use technology to exercise democratic leadership.
1. Increased Autonomous Technology Systems
Many firms use project management software to monitor or plan massive projects involving many departments. As this technology advances, operational openness among executives and staff increases. More crucially, automation technology allows team members to work with more autonomy.
High degrees of autonomy leads to increased levels of employee engagement and satisfaction. When employees have greater autonomy, they become more intelligent, valued, and involved in the company’s success—and they are more willing to participate in democratic processes.
2. Obtaining Direct Community Insight
Online communities like Reddit and YouTube aren’t only places where individuals can express themselves; they’re also places where people can have in-depth, unedited dialogues that are frequently hard to recreate via mass media or market research.
When leaders consider actions that will affect their consumers or community, they may use these and related digital platforms to locate a range of talks about them. Organizations may also utilize these platforms to readily engage with communities and leaders, inviting them to participate in decision-making. This may serve as the foundation for establishing win-win scenarios.
3. Using Social Media to Hold People Accountable
While the openness of these channels exposes leaders to possible criticism, social media may help leaders locate a diverse range of views that they would otherwise be unable to reach. Suppose leaders misbehave or make decisions that have a detrimental influence on others. In that case, it is simple for individuals on social media to criticize them or launch a campaign to attract attention to their wrongdoings.
This technology happens all the time
In 2018, Google faced outrage after a demonstration of Google Duplex. Which uses AI to make phone calls to companies to book appointments. Ethicists chastised Google for neglecting to inform users on the other end of the phone that they were conversing with an AI. Causing the corporation to reverse course and develop an opt-in barrier for the service.
Similarly, social media users have called out fashion firms for racist marketing and items, causing several corporations (paywall) to cancel products and apologize. Some experts think CEOs may avoid mistakes by cultivating positive connections with consumers and the general public through social media.
Democratic Leadership Advice
Technology provides a robust platform for cultivating genuinely inclusive leadership to use wisely.
Large business leaders should direct their marketing staff to actively monitor social media sites. Such as Twitter and Reddit for online sentiment about their brand and related trends and report their findings regularly. This may assist leaders in determining when to shift direction to prevent criticism or seize opportunities before others. Leaders who have personal social media accounts should monitor their communications regularly for the same reasons.
Internally, executives should collaborate with HR and conduct frequent polls of workers to gauge their feelings about current projects, business culture, and other elements of office life. For true democratic leadership to exist, leaders must do more than gather input; they must also act on it. The most efficient strategy is to share survey findings with workers and state what can fix concerns or make necessary adjustments.
Increased democratization of leadership isn’t merely a handy outcome of technology. We require it.
For example, white, rich, cisgender males have dominated political and corporate leadership positions. Yet we overlook their viewpoints. In these companies, the culture of leadership development is more concerned with selecting successors to people now in power than with empowering others.
Recent diversity, equality, and inclusion programs have started to shift leadership composition. But they often fail to address social challenges promptly. However, technological advancements have enabled under-represented groups to talk directly to individuals in positions of power. And influence decision-making. Bringing organizations one step closer to democracy.