4: Theories in Action — participative theory of leadership

The participative theory of leadership includes the leader taking input from others. Following this theory, the leader will facilitate discussion; the leader will openly share information; the leader allows and encourages others to share their ideas; all available information is synthesized; the best possible decision is made based on the synthesized information; and the leader then communicates the decision back to the group. This theory works to remove the hierarchical distance between leaders and followers by allowing for collective involvement and responsibility to reach a desired goal. 

This theory is representative of the leader-follower dynamic I am a part of at Frontline. This theory is exemplified both on a smaller level (between myself and my direct supervisor) and on a larger level (between the executive producer and all other employees). 

In the first scenario, on the projects I am tasked with, the first step usually involves some sort of open discussion of the task at hand. Typically, this discussion begins with my supervisor (or whoever is leading the project) openly sharing their knowledge and thoughts about the material. I then am always asked to share my thoughts and knowledge regarding the topic. This “discussion” is then further transformed through the collaborative nature of the projects I work on, during which my thoughts are often weighed with equal consideration than full-time employees. Much of this work is confidential, however one example I can share is my work fact-checking and researching for an upcoming film, COVID’s Hidden Toll. Narration and video clips have been changed as a result of my findings. This is because all thoughts and information found by all involved parties is synthesized before any final decisions are made. And, once decisions are made based on the synthesized findings, my supervisor always takes the time to discuss and review them with me to ensure that I am aware and understand why certain decisions were made. 

On a larger scale within Frontline, this theory is shown through nearly all decision making processes. This is because all employees are usually involved with all projects, each having a specific job on the project but being encouraged to share all thoughts regardless of what that specific job is. Open discussion about projects occurs at every all staff meeting as well as every in my specific department, the editorial department. One project I have worked on involves logging data from past films, and although I was tasked with logging very specific information, if I come across grammar or factual errors I always bring this to the attention of my supervisor or the relevant higher up. These findings are always welcomed and encouraged. However, if every member in the organization always contributed to every decision, this would greatly impact the efficiency of the group. This is why participation and discussion is often facilitated within each specific department before it is brought to those at the highest level positions at Frontline. Journalism often involves finding the right balance between collaboration and efficiency, as the content produced must be accurate but still produced in a timely manner. This type of leadership, where openness and collaboration is encouraged, is also further emphasized by the open office hours the executive producer and managing editor hold each week, which are open to all Frontline employees, including interns.