Action Wheel Leadership

Autocratic Leadership Style


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Though common, an autocratic leadership style can be the least effective of all styles of leadership. Leaders and managers who use autocratic leadership styles often alienate followers.

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Autocratic Leadership Style

Autocratic leadership is a style of leadership in which a manager is the most powerful entity, the primary decision maker and authority.  With an autocratic leader, employees are not entitled to any sort of input in how things are run and typically not consulted about decision making.

Autocratic leaders are usually not popular with their employees and this leadership style is often compared to a dictatorship. The leadership styles, or preferences, of others are not engaged.

Employees under an autocratic leader are expected to follow the orders of their managers even if they do not agree or do not receive any explanation. They are not engaged in any systematic leadership development.

In order to motivate employees, managers will often employ a set of rewards and punishments that are highly structured.

The autocratic leadership style has decreased in popularity over the years as it is considered by many to be a a less desirable style.

Studies show that many organizations with an autocratic style of leadership have higher instances of employee absenteeism and unusually high turnover. Employee problems with autocratic leadership include the idea that managers do not trust their employees, the fact that managers often use punishments or threats to motivate employees, and the fact that employee input is generally not valued.

Autocratic leadership often has a negative effect on morale. When confronted with an autocratic leader, talented and in-demand employees tend to leave a business, while mediocre employees tend to stay. When dealing with an autocratic leader, employees also tend to become more passive aggressive. Employees may also feel resentful and look for ways to get their manager in trouble, which can lead to paranoia on the part of the manager.

Despite the many negatives, in some specific situations, an autocratic leadership style can be effective, efficient and even necessary.

Leading autocratically works very well when there are emergencies or stressful situations. It is very difficult for a group of people to come to a consensus when under stress or facing an emergency. This is a situation in which having a strong autocratic leader can be very helpful. However, when the crisis is resolved, better results will be achieved by reverting to a more inclusive style of leadership.

Group projects are also situations during which an autocratic leader may be necessary. In a group project, it is easy for everyone to rely on the other group members to make decisions. However, if everyone is expecting other people to make decisions, many times little is accomplished. In this situation, it is useful to have an autocratic leader who will make decisions and delegate responsibility.

Overall, autocratic leadership has some major drawbacks and is not as popular as styles of leadership that involve teamwork. This leadership style tends to discourage innovation and lower employee morale. Managers who use an autocratic style all the time will find high turnover among their most talented employees and high worker dissatisfaction.

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Autocratic Leadership Style

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Characteristics of Good Leadership

Courageous Leadership

Leadership Metaphors


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