Consultative Leadership: Definition, Benefits And Components

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 24 October 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A manager or team leader can use their leadership skills in several ways to foster collaboration in the workplace. A consultative leadership style, for instance, encourages opinions from subordinates and colleagues in making decisions. Understanding this leadership style and how to become a consultative leader can help you effectively implement consultative leadership in your workplace. In this article, we define this style of leadership, list its key components and benefits and provide you with some tips for becoming a strong consultative leader.

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What Is Consultative Leadership?

Consultative leadership is a style of leadership that focuses on team building and considers everyone's abilities when creating effective plans and making decisions. Leaders consult with their teams and collate team members' suggestions and opinions to help drive informed and strategic decisions. For instance, if a company requires a production decision, the manager consults with the engineering department since it is familiar with the production process and can provide quality input.

Essentially, this leadership style helps when a company finds ideas for a particular solution challenging in the decision-making process. A consultative leader may also include their team members in the decision-making process to listen to different viewpoints. Listening to different perspectives helps them make more strategic decisions than they are likely to make on their own. Involving their team in the process also permits team members to build leadership and decision-making skills.

Related: How To Become A Leader: A Guide (With Leadership Styles)

Benefits Of This Leadership Style

This style of leadership has several benefits for leaders in the workplace. Understanding these benefits allows you to determine whether it is appropriate to implement this leadership style in your own work environment. Here are some benefits of becoming a consultative leader:

It creates a sense of involvement

This leadership style fosters proactivity. For example, when you ask employees for their input, this encourages them to voice their opinions more freely. As a result, such employees are more likely to participate in similar decision-making discussions in the future. This helps companies nurture future leaders who are competent in making important decisions when they reach managerial or team leader positions. Such employees are also more open to the suggestions of their teammates when taking major work-related decisions.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions And Examples

Leaders know it is acceptable to ask for help

This leadership style helps leaders feel confident, even when they have incomplete knowledge of a particular circumstance or situation. Essentially, it helps them understand that it is acceptable to learn and grow alongside their subordinates through the consultation process. It also encourages them to trust their subordinates' viewpoints. This allows consultative leaders to learn and improve in their roles, increasing the overall quality of talent and skills in a team or company.

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Creates a deeper bond between leaders and their subordinates

This style of leadership lets you build a stronger relationship with your colleagues and team members. Consistently sharing suggestions and thought processes allows you to create strong bonds and relationships with the people you include in consultations. This is likely to lead to stronger collaboration and better results in your workplace.

Related: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions And Examples

Key Components Of This Leadership Style

This leadership style has a few key components that form how it works. Here are the main components of collaborative leadership:

Focus on creativity and innovation

This leadership style promotes the stimulation of creativity among individuals as they work towards a solution. When people share ideas, it can foster new ways of thinking and, hopefully, lead to better solutions to diverse problems. Such innovation leads to better output in the workplace, and organisations are likely to benefit from increased efficiency and productivity.

Related: Difference Between A Leader And A Manager: Essential Points

Influence and engagement

This leadership style focuses on new thoughts and ideas from a variety of employees. An organisation's leaders may not accept every new idea, but they take each one into serious consideration. This can lead to innovations that combine one or more ideas that different individuals suggest.

Such leaders usually consider all ideas, even if some of the suggestions contradict their own thoughts and beliefs. Employees then begin to feel that their ideas are important and that the company's leadership considers these suggestions seriously. Such employees are more likely to engage in a meaningful manner and generate even better suggestions.

Mentor role for leaders

With this leadership style, managers and team leaders take on the role of a mentor and embrace opinions from their teams and colleagues. They essentially facilitate the team through the decision-making process. Each member of a team can make suggestions and the manager bases decisions on the collective wisdom of these ideas. In addition, leaders ensure that team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts by providing them with a suitable environment.

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How Does This Leadership Style Differ From Other Leadership Styles?

Because consultative management involves subordinates in the decision-making process, this leadership style requires a less authoritative environment compared to other leadership styles, such as dictatorial or authoritative management. Even though it is not as authoritative as the participative style, the consultative leadership style focuses more on combining experience, skills and ideas from outside sources. It is worth noting that despite the added input managers receive, leaders still retain the authority to make final decisions. Despite this, they encourage input from parties that changes affect before making final decisions.

Related: Leadership Development: Definition, Process And Styles

4 Tips For Becoming A Strong Consultative Leader

In becoming a consultative leader, it is important for you to have management skills and confidence in performing authoritative actions. Successfully managing this ensures the effective use of this leadership style. Here are some tips you can follow to become a strong consultative leader:

1. Learn facilitation skills

Spend time learning and improving your facilitation skills. You can use these skills to navigate business problems. Facilitation skills can also help you save time and receive the results you require from collaborative thinking.

2. Help people feel comfortable speaking up

Create a culture that invites people on your team to speak up and share their thoughts. When your team freely participates, you gain valuable insight, advice and information that you might not have received unless you asked for outside opinions. You can achieve this by respecting each team member's thoughts and opinions when they share them. You can also work on creating an environment where all members of your team feel comfortable speaking to you about work-related suggestions or issues.

Related: Consultant Roles And Responsibilities (A Complete Guide)

3. Stay in touch

Once you gather information and suggestions from your team members, let them know what you do with the information. Staying in touch and letting them know how you use their ideas helps them feel included in the process. While you cannot always share everything as a leader, conveying allowable feedback lets them know that their suggestions were helpful. It is also important to stay in touch by remaining visible to your team daily. Making time for team members and letting them know you are present can help them feel valued and unforgotten.

Related: A Guide To 10 Effective Management Styles (With Examples)

4. Get to know your team

To ensure strong relationships with your team members and colleagues, spend time becoming familiar with them and their working styles. Understand how they process information and whether they are more task- or social-oriented. It is also important to get to know their personalities in the workplace to help you better manage a diverse group of people. Building such strong relationships leads to bonds that extend beyond just the workplace. Such bonds mean that you may be able to ask your teammates and subordinates to put in the extra effort when you require it.

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