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Autocratic Leadership – Definition, Examples, Pros and Cons

Autocratic leadership style is one of the well-known leadership styles along with other leadership styles such as charismatic leadership, participative leadership, transformational leadership, bureaucratic leadership, and many more. From the well-known kings of the roman empire like Augustus to Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, several leaders follow the autocratic leadership style. This blog will define autocratic leadership and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of autocratic leadership with examples of some famous autocratic leaders.

What is Autocratic Leadership?

Autocratic leadership can be defined as a leadership style where an individual takes control of decision making and manages the subordinates with little or no input. Autocratic Leaders takes decisions based on their own beliefs, ethics, and moral values. They do not seek advice from others and go by their knowledge and experience.

You might be thinking – What is the difference between dictatorship and autocratic leadership! There is a difference between the two, and it is essential to distinguish between dictators and autocratic leaders. 

In simple words, All dictators are autocratic leaders; but vice versa might not be true all the time.

The autocratic Leadership style is generally used in the modern world to take control and push the team forward and not for misuse.

Characteristics of an Autocratic Leader

Many autocratic leaders who follow the autocratic leadership style are generally considered dominating or bossy in most situations. This control style can be beneficial in some situations and might fail in other situations. Before we discuss the pros and cons of autocratic leadership, let us take a look at the characteristics of an autocratic leader:

Confident

The world will mostly follow a confident leader’s ideas and actions. Leaders need to be confident and believe in themselves, and it is a very desirable attitude when showcased correctly. Also, autocratic leaders sometimes tend to get overconfident and with no room for discussions and ideas, which will have a negative effect on the subordinates/team members. This might hamper the productivity of the individuals and affect the culture negatively, which could lead to the downfall of an organization. 

Structured

Autocratic leaders are generally structured in their approach towards any task. The working environment is highly regimented to the point of rigidity, and this leadership style helps in completing tasks quickly. On the contrary, the work environment can be overly strict in an authoritarian workplace. It might not allow team members to learn since they are scared to make mistakes as their performance is constantly monitored. Fear is not the best form of motivation to learn for all individuals.

Decisive

This is one of the key features of autocratic leadership as the decision-making is quick since the leader himself takes the final call. Quick decision making is of great importance, especially during crisis situations.

For example, when the world was suddenly hit with the COVID-19 pandemic, every organization needed leaders who would be quick and take decisions considering risks; rather than being dependable on someone else.

Taking the right decisions considering calculated risk makes the workplace a better place.

Very Clear

We already know who makes the final decision in authoritative leadership, whether on a vital business decision or how the organization operates. This leadership style accurately defines the roles and responsibilities of individuals’ work processes to ensure things run smoothly and achieve maximum efficiency. 

However, not all individuals who work well in such an environment restrict creativity and involvement and feel left out. If the ideas are not valued, the individual might not stay longer in an organization, leading to high attrition rates, affecting the team and productivity.

Responsible

Since autocratic leaders have a complete hold on decision-making, they are responsible for success and failure. The leaders will first face the consequences of their actions in any scenario. A responsible leader marks a good impression on his subordinates and establishes a bond of trust.

However, some team members might not get the credit where it is due on specific scenarios, and it depends on the leader to be responsible and hold their group together.

Fewer discussions

As we already discussed, the autocratic leader makes most of the decisions individually and does not give much room for feedback/discussions. Although it increases the decision-making speed, it affects team morale negatively as often team members will feel left out, especially on critical decisions. 

Autocratic Leadership Advantages and Disadvantages

Autocratic leadership is also known as authoritarian leadership and has its own set of pros and cons. Here are a few of them:

Advantages of Autocratic Leadership

Fast decision making

In Autocratic Leadership, there are fewer levels of hierarchy and administration, due to which there are fewer stakeholders that must be kept informed of each decision. In addition, there is less feedback from various levels of management that must be analyzed. Since there is only one person(autocratic leader) in charge of everything, the decision making process is fast and helps achieve the goals quickly.

Improves productivity and efficiency

Quicker decision-making and information-sharing from an autocratic leader will boost the productivity of any team. Since the roles of all the employees are precise, and there is less waiting time for approvals, actions are quickly taken by the subordinates/team members, which has a significant positive impact on their performance. 

Structured and disciplined approach

In autocratic leadership, everything is structured and properly defined. The processes involved in work and discipline in work standards are clearly defined, ensuring the organization and team move forward together.

Clear Communication

“Communication is the lifeline of any relationship” – Elizabeth Bourgeret

The systematic process of conveying information from one person to another is known as communication. This is very important in any leadership style as it is the difference between confusion and clarity. If the communication is not clear, team members might not be actionable to their best and might hamper efficiency. Autocratic leadership constantly supports one-way communication, and the leader assigns specified duties and work patterns to the employees. Furthermore, the instructions will be delivered directly to the personnel, and it is one of the most significant advantages of autocratic leadership.

Control

A leader with good leadership characteristics has more decision-making power. They can keep a careful eye on what others are doing and ensure workplace conformity. This will ensure that the organization meets its goals and focuses on their tasks.

Helps in crisis management

Autocratic leadership is an excellent leadership style when dealing with crisis situations. The leader is in complete charge of the situation and is focused on problem-solving, facing all the challenges, and navigating hierarchies.

Disadvantages of Autocratic Leadership

Micromanagement

Autocratic leaders are responsible for success or failure when they take the lead on any project, and there is a lot at stake for them. Hence, they supervise every small task in any work. When done too much to avoid mistakes, this might make it very difficult for employees to execute their work. This will hamper productivity and affect the work culture over a period of time.

Lack of creativity

As they say, drops of water make an ocean. A team can generate several ideas as compared to a single person. This gives more room for discussion, feedback, and improvement on processes, with an opportunity for everyone to be creative. Innovation and creativity will help businesses grow faster in the long run. 

Dependable system

Since the leader is more authoritative and takes the final call, individuals might struggle in the leader’s absence and are dependent on the autocratic leader. This does not help the individuals grow and restricts the growth of the team and the organization.

Discourages ideas and inputs

In this type of leadership, you will see fewer meetings and discussions on processes and work implementation, which gives little room to discuss new ideas and inputs. Since the autocratic leader makes the final decisions, he/she might reject ideas basis his personal preference, which discourages team members from giving new creative ideas.

Might affect Work Culture negatively

If the autocratic leader in charge strictly follows ethics and morals without breaking the rules, it creates a very positive culture and work environment. If the vice-versa happens, organisations will have to deal with high attrition rates and a mental breakdown for employees/team members.

Less room for employee growth

As discussed before, there is less hold on decision making and no room for idea discussion. The feedback consideration is also less for any processes/projects. Since the leader will have a complete hold, team members might not get a chance to improve their soft skills, essential for individuals.

Autocratic Leadership Examples

Several famous leaders follow the autocratic style of leadership. Here are a few examples of autocratic leaders:

Donald Trump

Donald Trump, the former president of USA is one of the popular leaders known for his autocratic leadership style. Trump takes the responsibility of his conglomerate company on his shoulders, taking all the critical decisions. He even fired employees who were not performing well and gave a raise and other incentives to those performing well, which seems strict but fair.

This worked well for his organization but not so much during his tenure as the president of USA. Different roles require different leadership skills to be used, and flexibility and adaptability play a significant role in any leadership role.

Bill Gates

During his tenure as the CEO of Microsoft, Bill Gates followed the authoritative leadership but with room for participation from his subordinates and peers, which was a huge success. He took the major decisions but gave room for feedback and inputs in critical areas, which shows an example of How one can leverage autocratic leadership!

Napoleon Bonaparte

Napolean Bonaparte was one of the craziest autocratic leaders you will ever encounter. In a completely different approach, the French revolutionary leader shared his ideas with no one in his vast army. He expanded his army to more than 70 million in a few decades, keeping control over everything.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Make Autocratic Leadership Style Work for You?

As an autocratic leader, you can keep control of things, but it is also essential to carry your team as a whole. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Respect your team members and peers
  • Give room for ideas, inputs, and feedback
  • Listen to everyone carefully
  • Communicate clearly on an individual level
  • Stick to good moral values and ethics

What skills are required to be an autocratic leader?

  • Decision-making
  • Communication skills
  • Time Management
  • Empathy
  • Ability to handle pressure
  • Stress management
  • Managing emotions
  • Problem solving
  • Adaptability

Conclusion

Just like everything else, autocratic leadership has its advantages and disadvantages. There are occasions during a crisis where autocratic leadership works well to achieve desired results quickly. However, it might not work when you aim to foster teamwork coordination and build the bond of trust among team members to make them future leaders.

0 Source: GreatLearning Blog

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