A leader with a democratic mindset is what we all wish to see in our workplaces. They get more done and are more fun to be with. They are well admired and respected for the personality they show and shine with at the office. They handle conflicts well. They understand the elasticity of deadlines.
Leaders with democratic mindsets know work, know life and know people. Their mind is their tool. It is not the other way round.
To have a better grasp of the democratic mindset, imagine the differences between a democratic and an authoritarian societal system. The metaphor is dry, but, nevertheless, it does a good job of illustrating the heaviness of strict thinking against the grace of a milder one.
How can you recognize these people among the many who come in touch with you at work? How can you be aware and develop such personality qualities yourself? And how to know what and where to look for, when we want to hire a candidate for a position of a leader?
1. Focuses on the needs behind the feelings of his coworkers.
The content of the work is important, but a greater part of a good working relationship is about the feelings behind the content, and especially the needs behind those feelings. Most human beings’ daily needs circle around safety, recognition, connection, acceptance and importance. A great leader shows that they have these in mind all the time.
2. Likes mediation.
They like to include others and abolish a solid chunk of their need for control and power in conflicts. Most of the unused potential and creative energy at work is wasted on unresolved conflicts. Instead of dwelling, democratic leaders give over the reins to a party with a fresh solution to a problem.
3. Trusts in life’s benevolence.
Basically, though being aware of potential risks, they would rather give thumbs up to the good nature of people. Trust in benevolence is what entrepreneurship is very much about – one cannot jump into the unknown without knowing that success or a valuable lesson awaits there.
4. Knows that truth is relative.
They are able to see that each and every one of us lives and feels the world differently. Although we do live in a society of set and more or less optimized principles, the perceived personal value, meaning and significance that each and every one of us gives to each experience and to life events is subjective.
5. Possesses compassion for multiple opinions.
They possess, what can be best described as ”compassion for opinions”. One cannot be “not opinionated” unless they approach emotionally loaded attitudes with compassion – meaning gently, but straightforwardly.
6. Dismisses the ‘black or white’ approach to handling work issues.
What would be like if you only had the option to talk to a coworker who is a fanatic and does not recognize exceptions from a rule? Sometimes, straying into the gray area brings the strongest possible progress.
7. Sees the strengths of horizontality.
In groups with horizontal structures (including organizations, companies and workplaces) power is more or less equally distributed in the horizontal line. It means that power is not concentrated in one person or in one hierarchical line. A democratic mindset is aware of group identity and collective consciousness.
8. Welcomes change.
Even more, he or she loves change. This leader is not stuck in time. Inflexibility is not his only familiar functioning mode. He learns and evolves all the time. This means that moving deadlines, adjusting budgets, innovating, molding and fluidity is a daily practice.
9. Knows how to attract.
A great leader, or a great entrepreneur, or a great manager does not always need to pursue. It is sometimes enough to give the initial impulse and let chances, people and resources step forward. A democratic mind can let go of ambition and let space fill in for itself.
10. Knows how to take a joke.
There is a very strong prejudice over fun at work. “All work and no fun” goes the proverbial wisdom in the famous saying. Is the stereotype that work cannot be fun true? You know that you can produce serious results and still have lots of fun doing that. Maybe even more so. Fun is play, play is creativity. And creativity births productivity.