Dictatorship - The Real Secret Behind Democracy

Human beings don’t like change, and in many ways working in a hierarchical organization is a comfortable way to work. People might passionately complain about the company structure or the methods of management. But, the hierarchy allows them to be free from taking up any real responsibility.

It leaves them with neither the power nor the will to do anything about the sources of their woes. In a conventional organization, every day might be predictable and uninspiring too - but, there are no surprises pushing people out of their comfort zones. 

Dictate Democracy
It’s true that, in the long run, people will find more happiness, job satisfaction and purpose within a flatter, horizontal organization. However, cultivating a new mindset, creating the momentum for change and introducing democracy at the workplace takes time, patience and a strong will. In other words, the leadership heralding change in a conventional organization needs to stick to its dictatorial ways to nudge people out of their comfort zones and make them listen.

Sure, it’s paradoxical and hardly the way you’d expect the advent of democracy to be. However, to break down years of hierarchy, leaders need to embrace their inner dictator one last time. For, if they tried to jump straight into democracy, without first creating an environment that’s conducive, it might take a long, long time to usher in change. Worse, it may derail the whole movement before it even began.

Top-Down Before Bottom-Up
Therefore, the first steps towards organizational democracy need to be through some key, top-down decisions that have the power to create the necessary momentum for change. People need to see, through imposed decisions and actions, that their leaders’ desire to change the work culture isn’t fleeting.

Rather, it should reveal the concrete steps being taken to bring about change. And, when these enforced decisions create the right environment, democracy and a people-centric organizational culture can take seed and grow.

Change Is Never Popular At First
When leading a company to new pastures, leaders must begin with strong top-down decisions. Once the wheels have been set in motion, baby steps can help create autonomy and an increasingly engaged workforce. A strong, nearly-dictatorial approach helps overcome the inertia created by years of conventional hierarchy; builds momentum gradually; and, allows employees the space and time to adjust to change.

Although leaders might have a clear vision about the future of the company, and what they want to achieve, there’s no guarantee that everyone will agree with them or even understand what they’re proposing.

This means, before their vision can take shape, people need to first acknowledge that change is in the air - whether they like it or not. For, it’s with strong decisions, and uncontested implementation of those decisions, that leaders can wipe the slate clean and create the space for a new culture. Since actions are stronger than words, people will eventually begin to understand the changes taking place, embrace them and actively engage with them.

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