When you think of technology in the business world, One of the first ideas that comes to mind is the ways automation affects the job market and market for labor. What may not be on your thoughts is the impact technology has had on how leaders manage their companies, which has led to (or in certain cases forcing) them to take the more democratic management method.
Take a look at how messaging and social media apps like Slack affect your life. They’ve certainly changed the way you organize information, communicate with colleagues and friends, and even changed the way you change your habits. The same is true for the leaders of nonprofits, companies and government agencies, broadening their perspective beyond their personal experiences.
What Democratic Leadership Looks Like
Democratic leadership can take different forms. In the end, it’s an organizational system that’s participative and actively solicits subordinates’ input. The group members have an equal degree of participation in the decision-making process by using an opportunity to communicate their ideas, plans, and insights, and personal preferences. Leaders are generally required to respect the decisions of the group. However, they can be held accountable if they diverge from their group’s consensus and expectations.
One of the fundamentals of democracy is the understanding that individual actions affect the whole. Therefore, the social contract inherent to everyone considers the more significant value of every idea and decision. This is why I believe the concept of responsible corporate citizenship is increasingly crucial to improving the world and staying in the good graces of consumers.
How Technology Can Democratize Leadership
Online surveys and forms make it simpler to get feedback from employees. However, this is the most basic illustration of technology’s influence on leadership. I’ve noticed that organizations that adhere to an organizational structure that is democratic typically have a better to be more democratic in their communities. Here are a few outcomes of organizations using technology to exercise democratic leadership.
1. More Autonomous Systems
Many organizations utilize software to manage projects, monitor projects, or plan large projects across multiple departments. As technology improves, it improves transparency for staff and executives. In addition, it empowers team members to operate with greater autonomy.
Greater autonomy leads to greater levels of employee satisfaction and engagement. When employees can operate more autonomously and independently, they are more knowledgeable and valuable and invested in the business’s overall success. It also makes them more likely to play an active role in the democratic process.
2. Direct Community Insight
Communities on the internet, such as Reddit and YouTube, aren’t just outlets where people can express themselves. They’re platforms where people can engage in deep, unfiltered discussions that are usually impossible to duplicate through mass media or market research.
Suppose leaders consider making decisions that affect their communities or their customers and their customers. In that case, they can use these and similar platforms to discover a range of discussions regarding them. Businesses can also utilize these platforms to communicate with their communities and leaders and allow them to be involved in the decision-making process. This could form the basis for creating win-win-win situations.
3. Accountability Through Social Media
Social media is an excellent way for leaders to get access to a range of voices that they usually don’t have access to, yet the accessibility of these channels could lead to adverse reactions. If leaders make a mistake or choose that hurts others, there is a lot of opportunity for those on social media platforms to slam them or launch campaigns to draw attention to their actions.
It happens all the time. In 2018 Google was criticized after an example of Google Duplex, which allows calls to companies to make appointments using AI. Ethics experts have criticized Google for not letting those on the other side of the line know that they were conversing with artificial intelligence, prompting Google to alter its strategy and set up an opt-in feature for the program.
In the same way, social media users have criticized fashion brands for advertisements and products that have negative racial undertones. This has prompted certain companies (paywall) to pull products and offer apologies. The preemptive accountability of social media might have helped help in preventing some of these incidents. I’ve observed that leaders can avoid mistakes by establishing solid relationships with their clients and the general public through social media.
Tips For Democratic Leadership
Technology is a foundation for genuinely inclusive leadership. It must be used effectively. The leaders of large companies must instruct their marketing teams to keep track of social media websites such as Twitter and Reddit for the online opinions about their brand and relevant trends and then regularly share their results. This helps leaders determine when to adjust their strategies to avoid backlash and make the most of opportunities before other people. Also, individuals who own personal social media accounts must check their posts daily to ensure they are not causing any harm.
In the internal environment, leaders must work with HR and frequently ask employees to survey their opinion on current initiatives, the company’s culture, and other aspects that affect office culture. To ensure that a genuinely democratic leadership succeeds, it’s essential to go beyond just getting feedback from employees. Leaders need to act upon it. The best method of doing this is by transparently releasing results from surveys to employees and providing the steps to fix the issues or the changes that have to be implemented.
The Bottom Line
The increasing democratization of leadership isn’t an unavoidable consequence of technology. It’s essential and, to my mind, is needed. For example, political and commercial leadership positions have mostly been filled by wealthy, white, and cisgender people and women, with the viewpoints of different demographics being largely ignored. The leadership development culture within these companies focuses on finding successors for those who are currently in control instead of empowering other people.
Recent diversity initiatives in equity and inclusion have started to alter the composition of leadership but are not taking action on social issues quickly enough. Technology has also created platforms that allow people who are not represented to directly address the people in charge and influence the decision-making process, which brings companies one step closer to a democratic system.