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  • Writer's pictureDel Chatterson

Democracy still works. But in your business?

Democracy still works

But in your business?


Around the world we are seeing democracies at work; not always the way they were intended to work and not always giving us the results we wanted or expected, but still delivering the decisions and making the choices the people were asked to vote on.

Too frequently, we are seeing democratic processes used to legitimize an illegal authority or a brutal dictatorship and sometimes they’re manipulated by unprincipled politicians in order to retain their power and privileges. Occasionally, we can be reasonably assured that democracy has succeeded in choosing leadership that will deliver government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” That was the definition used by Abraham Lincoln, the 16th U.S. President, in direct opposition to slavery in 1858.

Do you use democratic processes in your business to make decisions or choose leaders? Are you clear on who are “the people” being served and who are the people providing leadership? Are they of the same people?

Large public companies are required to have transparency and respect some semblance of democratic processes. The Board of Directors is elected by the shareholders to represent their interests and to choose corporate leadership that looks after their investments in the business.

A small private company has no such obligation. A totalitarian dictatorship is allowed. Just as bad management and poor performance are allowed. However, they are probably not good choices.

Management by command and control is not only very much out of favour, it has also proven to be ineffective and unlikely to achieve sustainable high performance for any organisation. There are obviously limits to allowing “the people” to vote on every management decision, but participative management is a good start. If you don’t encourage participation and feedback from the people – your employees, your customers, and your investors – they will vote anyway, with their feet or their wallets – coming in or going out the front door.

Building an enthusiastic sustainable following – of voters, or employees, customers and investors – requires that you not only deliver what they want, but that you are aligned with them on common values and beliefs. Understand that and make it work.

You don’t have to call it democracy, it’s just good management.

Be better. Do better. Be an enlightened entrepreneur.   

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

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