Autocratic Leadership

Characteristics of autocratic leadership:

There is limited employee participation in the decision-making process, which is unilateral (without much involvement of others) – the autocratic leader prefers to make all the decisions.

This type of leader usually not only tells you what to do but also how to do it – the leader usually directs the work methods and there isn’t much delegation.

The flow of communication is usually one-way – these leaders tell you what they want done, without being open to input from others.

The only feedback these type of leaders provide to their people is negative feedback – they only mention mistakes without any emphasis on employee development. A typical expression in this type of work environment is, “no news is good news.”

In this type of environment the control is usually omnipresent (some of these leaders might even resort the force, manipulation, or threats).

Pros of autocratic leadership:

This leadership style is most effective when decisions need to be made fast, pronto, yesterday – like in urgent situations that cannot wait for a full-fledged democratic decision-making process. This leadership style speeds up this process.

In addition, this style is effective when it is necessary to make unpopular decision, such as cut backs in personnel.

Also, this style might prove efficient when new employees still don’t possess the necessary skills and don’t know the procedures they need to follow – detailed orders and instructions might be the order of the day.

Some people might have little trouble adapting to this style either because they like to be told what to do and / or because they are not motivated to do the task at hand.

Cons of autocratic leadership:

However, in today’s competitive fast-paced and increasingly complicated market place, it is practically impossible for one single person to make all the necessary decisions.

These leaders are not capable to build trust in employees – for the same reason these leaders do not build commitment and accountability among their workforce.

Employees don’t voice their opinions nor do they share their wisdom among each other and with their superiors.

Under this leadership style, workers are less likely to take initiatives, be creative and innovate – people development is almost non-existent.

Because this is typically a stressful workplace (employees become fearful or resentful), people are not motivated; there is lower employee morale and a higher turnover rate and a tendency to more absenteeism.

In short – with this leadership style – both strategy and execution suffer tremendously.

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To learn more about the skills you need to manage the performance of your direct reports, go to our Management Skills page.

To learn more about the skills you need to lead the performance of your entire organization, go to our Leadership Skills page.

To keep on learning about other useful skills, go back to the previous page, or click here.

If you would like your organization to learn tools and techniques about effective management and leadership – without unconsciously falling into autocratic leadership – through our speaking or consulting services, please click on this link.

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