Cooperative management style for more employee initiative

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Cooperative management style for more employee initiative

A cooperative leadership style is characterized by a lot of personal responsibility. Find out here how cooperative leadership can be implemented in practice.

What is a collaborative leadership style?

The way you lead employees has a decisive influence on their motivation and willingness to perform. While supervisors used to be perceived as authorities, nowadays leading at eye level, as is common in the cooperative leadership style, is considered one of the most recognized leadership methods.

Open expressions of opinion are expressly encouraged. Employees are involved in all projects and included in the decision-making process. In our modern times, supervisors are expected to have an open communication culture and to deal constructively with mistakes. A cooperative management style is characterized by high initiative as well as participation of each employee. Therefore, the term democratic management style is also used as a cooperative management style definition.

As a manager who practices a cooperative leadership method, you are not solely responsible for operational procedures and processes. Together with your team, you decide who is responsible for which projects and how many people are dedicated to a particular task. If there are absences due to illness or organisational reasons, time limits can still be met so that deadlines do not have to be postponed. However, the cooperative leadership method can only work if every employee in your team takes on a share of the responsibility and actively participates in making the daily work routine run as smoothly as possible.

Characteristics of a cooperative leadership style

Typical characteristics of a collaborative leadership style include:

  • Open communication
  • Creativity is desired
  • Employees are involved in the decision-making process
  • Mutual respect determines the working atmosphere
  • Promoting proactive behaviour
  • There is a lot of leeway in the execution of the work
  • Waiver of compulsory orders (execution of orders) by superiors

In principle, a cooperative management style is feasible in any company, regardless of the size of the company, the industry and the number of employees. However, a cooperative management style has advantages and disadvantages that need to be taken into account.

For example, reducing the distance between the management and employee levels is not appreciated by everyone involved. The introduction of employees' own ideas is often unfamiliar to supervisors. Even employees who are used to a rather strict management style may find that the great freedom of decision-making that a collaborative management style allows them, at least in the initial phase overwhelmed be

cooperative management style advantages and disadvantages

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the cooperative management style?

Like any other type of personnel management, a collaborative management style can have both advantages and disadvantages. The Advantages cooperative management style in detail:

  • Respectful interaction with each other
  • Participation of employees in decision-making processes
  • Open discussion culture
  • Constructive criticism May be expressed across hierarchies
  • High level of personal responsibility instead of "taking orders

Through respectful interaction with each other and the Appreciation of employees as equal partners, a positive working atmosphere is created. Since constructive criticism may also be voiced and employees are involved in important decisions, cooperation is strengthened. At the same time, employees are encouraged to work on their own responsibility, which significantly reduces the workload of managers.

Independent work

New, creative ideas are more likely to emerge in a pleasant working atmosphere than in an authoritarian environment. Suggestions for improvement from employees can contribute to the optimization of operational processes and also enrich everyday working life. Other advantages of a cooperative management style are that employees can take responsibility for their own work, which should lead to higher productivity, and that the modern management style is more effective. Error culture, which is based on the desire to learn from mistakes.

Among numerous benefits, a collaborative leadership style can have drawbacks and present some challenges. Disadvantages cooperative management style:

  • Difficult cooperation due to lack of ability to compromise
  • Endless discussions without results

Because a collaborative management style allows each employee to contribute to the decision-making process, lengthy discussions may ensue. Consensus building takes more time and a compromise is not always found that everyone agrees with.

As a manager, you are expected not only to be able to compromise, but also to be very assertive so that solutions can be found and implemented. Despite your willingness to talk and your openness, you should be able to end a fruitless discussion in a diplomatic way when it comes to achieving higher-level goals. Company goals enforce.

Whether or not a cooperative management style proves successful in practice depends on various factors. On the one hand, a cooperative leadership style can be correct and sensible, but under other circumstances it can also be unsuitable and inappropriate.

When does a cooperative management style make sense?

When it comes to managing people, many details matter. The goals of good people management are:

Cooperation between managers and employees is considered one of the greatest success factors in a company. Therefore, a cooperative management style is fundamentally sensible.

However, if the employees are used to a rather authoritarian working atmosphere, it may take some time until the willingness to adapt to a new leadership style arises. Taking into account internal procedures, processes and working principles, a cooperative management style is advantageous if it creates a common basis and shapes the corporate culture in a positive way.

Cooperative management style strengthens employee motivation

A cooperative management style that promotes the Delegate of responsibility can significantly boost employee motivation. Just knowing that they have a say and can shape their day-to-day work more independently promotes creativity and initiative.

Especially in industries where creative ideas are of great importance, such as advertising, fashion, art and culture, a creative leadership style can be groundbreaking in fostering talent. Furthermore, a leadership style based on collaborative principles is said to reduce stress in the workplace, as employees feel valued by their superiors and thus work in a more relaxed manner and automatically become more productive.

When is a cooperative management style not appropriate?

Although a cooperative management style is considered modern, contemporary and therefore desirable, this management style does not make sense in every case. Often there are particular challenges or problems in daily working life that can only be overcome with clear instructions. Sometimes the disadvantages of cooperative leadership outweigh the advantages, so that other methods have to be used in personnel management.

Although open communication between managers and employees strengthens trust, this method of communication can prove unfavourable in companies with a hierarchical structure or in public authorities. Also, the introduction of creative solution concepts is not always desired in offices, but also in the scientific environment. In a company where employees are not to be involved in the decision-making processes, a cooperative management style is therefore inappropriate.

In a large company or in a group of companies, it makes sense to agree on a single management style in order to avoid uncertainty. Under certain circumstances, the cooperative management style may have some disadvantages if, due to the size of the company, a large number of employees with very different opinions participate in the decision-making process. Important decisions could be delayed as a result, leading to disadvantages for the business.

Differences and similarities to other leadership styles

There are various leadership styles that differ from the cooperative leadership style in terms of their characteristics, but also have some similarities. The cooperative leadership style, like the relational leadership style, is one of the relationship-oriented leadership styles. Both leadership styles have in common that they are based on an intensive relationship and regular exchange between manager and employee.

In contrast, the authoritarian and delegative leadership styles are more fact-oriented. Both leadership styles focus on getting the job done, while dialogue with the employee is a secondary aspect. Inform yourself with us about the different styles of leadershipand the benefits as well as the challenges. As a leader, you are the coach of your employees and responsible for leading your team to incredible performance.

Cooperative leadership style focuses on common ground

A cooperative management style is characterized by focusing on commonalities rather than differences. In the implementation of projects, managers and employees work closely together and complement each other. They are jointly involved in the development of ideas. This is intended to reduce bad decisions and relieve the burden on those in charge. This characteristic distinguishes the cooperative management style quite significantly from an authoritarian management style based on clear orders and strict controls.

The laissez-faire leadership style is similar in many respects to cooperative leadership and yet differs from this type of employee management. In the laissez-faire leadership style, the manager takes a passive role and largely stays out of the action, leaving the employees to make the decisions themselves. Employees do not receive praise for good performance; however, there is no reprimand for poor performance. Compared to the cooperative leadership style, the laissez-faire leadership style is somewhat more extreme and thus differs from it.

cooperative management style advantages

Examples of the cooperative management style

Many companies nowadays practice a cooperative management style. The way in which employees are managed is characterised by certain focal points. Thus, a cooperative leadership style has characteristics by which this leadership style is clearly recognizable.

The basic attitude and the personal attitude of a manager towards the employees is decisively influenced by the management style customary in the company. The individual team members, in turn, are guided by the behavior of their superiors.

Examples of cooperative leadership styles include:

  • decisions you meet in the team
  • Employees can voice criticism at any time
  • Encouraging initiative
  • Flat hierarchies prevail in the company

The cooperative management style is justifiably also called democratic management style. You discuss problems openly in the team, each employee has the opportunity to propose his or her own solutions and the opinion of an employee counts just as much as the assessment of the supervisor when making decisions.

With this management method Personal initiative and creativity are taken for granted, because it is known that employees work more independently and are more likely to identify with the company if they are allowed to develop ideas and make suggestions for improvement themselves.

A cooperative management style Case study

As a manager, you are preparing a meeting. A decision is to be made about a new project that is of great interest to your company. A few days earlier, you have asked your team to come up with suggestions on how to convince this important customer to work with you.

Now you invite your employees to the conference to learn about the current state of the project. During the meeting, you ask for concrete results and give each of your employees the opportunity to present the results and to support them with arguments. Afterwards, everyone discusses the different proposals. As a manager, you lead the discussion and let your team actively participate in the decision-making process. The decision on how to proceed is made by a vote.

Another example of a cooperative leadership style is the promotion of individual employees in the context of team development: An employee in the team has attracted your attention because of her professional competence. She is particularly knowledgeable in a certain subject area, while you only have superficial knowledge on this topic. You therefore ask the team member for professional support and ask her if she would like to participate in future projects in this specialist area.

What is important when using the collaborative leadership style?

The cooperative management style can be successful in your company if you observe a few rules. Despite all the cooperation, the focus on results and goals should not be neglected. Even in team building, it doesn't help to want to please everyone.

The challenge that you as a manager have to overcome with the cooperative management style is to let the employees work as independently as possible, to involve them in decisions and, on the other hand, to ensure a certain order and structure.

A cooperative leader:

  • Maintains a collaborative dialogue with their team
  • Assigns precisely defined decision-making powers to employees and respects freedom of action
  • Accepts that Employees have a better knowledge of their subject areas and can therefore take decisions

As a manager with a cooperative management style, you are responsible for your area and therefore set the goals! Your tasks include coordinating the individual services and combining them to achieve the desired overall result.

Don't forget that your employees also make certain demands on you as a leader! In a cooperatively managed company, the individual team members expect you to independent work and be allowed to participate in decisions.

Support your employees by ensuring that they can develop professionally and as people. Be available to your team as a contact person for questions and problems. In this way, you improve the relationship between you as a manager and your employees and create a trusting working atmosphere.

As a cooperative leader you are supervisor, coach and partner for your team at the same time!


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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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