Autocratic leadership, also known as authoritarian leadership, refers to the style of management where one leader holds the power to make decisions without input from others. In this style, input may not always be necessary, but a team of trusted advisors comes in handy. An autocratic leadership style often works in situations that require error-free outcomes or immediate decisions, or in situations with safety or time constraints.
The autocratic leader oversees daily tasks and provides clear directions to team members. They are not as involved in long-term goal-setting or career advancement as other types of leaders. Leaders who follow the autocratic style focus on making sure their teams complete critical tasks on time. In addition, they may lead teams of people who have a limited skill set, experience, or training.
Leadership styles that are autocratic often receive criticism because they can allow leaders to abuse their powers if used incorrectly or in the wrong situation. In the past, tyrants and dictators have abused this privilege by demeaning their subordinates and abusing their power. When used correctly and in the right setting, however, the autocratic leadership style can have benefits. The autocratic leader has complete control over strategy, implementation, and management within the group, which gives him a unique perspective.
Traits of Autocratic Leaders
Some of the traits of autocratic leaders are as follows:
Motivation: Leaders who are autocratic need to be self-motivated and able to motivate those they lead. Communication and empathy skills help these leaders understand what their teams need and outline realistic strategies.
Self-confidence: In order to be an autocratic leader, you must have self-confidence in your skills and abilities so that you can make sound decisions when facing multiple options and weighing the implications of each one. A leader who is autocratic must trust their own judgement and knowledge in a high-stress situation or a time-limited situation.
Dependality: In teams where hierarchy benefits productivity, these dependable leaders follow the rules of their company in order to be efficient and productive. This is one of the characteristics that makes them dependable.
Clarity: Leaders who are autocratic need to be clear and consistent when giving directions and delegating tasks to their team members. A clear understanding of expectations and processes ensures that team members can perform tasks well.
Benefits of Autocratic Leadership
The benefits of autocratic leadership are:
Enhanced productivity: Autocratic leaders usually delegate tasks directly to their employees, so there are fewer delays in productivity. These leaders can help employees find solutions and reassign tasks to ensure that no work stops.
Reduction of employee stress: The responsibility of making decisions falls on these leaders, which can remove pressure from employees who may not feel comfortable doing so. In order to focus on their individual responsibilities, effective autocratic leaders make informed, impactful decisions.
Faster decision-making: A time restriction can often affect decision-making in high-pressure situations, and having multiple people work on a decision may compromise its integrity. Autocratic leaders weigh all options and potential outcomes before making a decision.
Direct Communication: An autocrat provides all necessary information to his employees, which simplifies communication. When a member of the team needs clarification or specific information to complete their tasks, their autocratic supervisor rarely has to seek assistance from another person.
Limitations of Autocratic Leadership
Some of the limitations of autocratic leadership are as follows:
Promotes dependence: When a leader is responsible for every task and problem, it eliminates any potential worries and stresses for the team, but it also creates a relationship of total dependence. Even when working, no one should be entirely dependent upon another for their happiness, motivation, and career progression.
Eliminates individual ownership: An autocrat typically takes responsibility for both his team’s failures and achievements. In this kind of work environment, it can be hard for team members to feel appreciated for their own ideas, contributions, and value.
Creates mutual mistrust: Generally, autocratic leaders hide all company information from employees, making them feel powerless and misinformed, and making them mistrust their leaders. Conversely, being in control can cause autocratic leaders to feel isolated and unable to trust their team.
Micromanagement: Managers who prefer a highly controlled work environment may closely monitor the tasks, the progress, and the performance of their direct reports. The micromanaging autocrats intervene and correct employees every step of the way, instead of offering simple directions, deadlines, and goals. A lack of motivation, burnout, and decreased productivity can result from such attention.
Example of Autocratic Leadership
Mary is a team leader at a busy pet food manufacturing plant who outlined a goal for the quality assurance team to reduce mistakes that cause pet food waste. Any team member whose performance did not meet this goal received additional training to improve their performance. By implementing this shared goal among all team members, Mary improved productivity and quality while reducing mistakes.
Indeed Editorial Team. (2021, September 9). indeed. Retrieved from indeed: https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/what-is-autocratic-leadership