- Elon Musk, Investor & Entrepreneur
In business, there are various leadership styles that directors can adopt to lead their company. But what exactly is autocratic leadership and does it work in the world of business? Like others, autocratic leadership has its pros and cons. If you are trying to figure out your own leadership techniques, it may be a good idea to study each style to determine which is the best fit for you and your company.
What is autocratic leadership?
Autocratic leadership is often compared to the ‘whatever I say, goes’ approach. In other words, this leader has 100 percent control over everything that is done in the group. Other group members do not have any input nor sway in the matter.
If you are in a situation where your leader is autocratic, your input of ideas and opinions will likely not sway the leader’s decision. In fact, many autocratic leaders do not like their authority to be challenged. When someone leads in an autocratic style, their decisions will be made swiftly and in accordance to their own beliefs and ideas.
The benefits of being an autocratic leader
You may see this swift decision making as a benefit of being an autocratic leader. You make what you believe is the right choice and spend less time gathering input from others. Whilst some may agree with your decision, others may disapprove but won’t neccessarily voice their concerns.
As an autocratic leader, your decision is final even if no one approves. This can lead to goals or targets being reached more quickly since you decide what they are and when they shall be met. As you can imagine, this chain of command is clear and straightforward.
Productivity also thrives under autocratic leadership since those in charge will weed out time wasters who slow down the process. In turn, they will be replaced by employees who share the same or a higher level of productivity as the leader.
The disadvantages of autocratic leadership
Exercising your power through autocratic leadership it’s not as easy as one might think. Your employees may not be aligned with the vision you have and could challenge or look to find work elsewhere.
You also risk stifling the creative abilities of your team. Innovative things can happen when you allow someone’s creativity to flow and provide a wide variety of ideas. However, when you have the only and final say, other creative ideas get shoved under the rug. In other words, it’s done your way or no way at all. If you are an autocratic leader, you should at least consider allowing more of a free reign when it comes to projects that involve creativity.
Autocratic leadership can also lead to lower morale. No one feels great if every one of their ideas is shot down by their superior. If anything, your team members may not even bother contributing if their ideas and creativity are stifled at every opportunity.
When is autocratic leadership necessary?
Autocratic leadership tends to be the best option when you are dealing with a group of people that have low self-motivation levels. They need to be told exactly what to do and how to do it to ensure it is done. An autocratic leader will either force them into shape or weed them out.
Autocratic leadership is also handy in situations where emergencies and contingencies occur. In such situations, the last thing you need is someone challenging your decisions. In an emergency, there is one goal and one goal only, no alternatives. This style of leadership thrives in certain professions such as the police force, fire brigades and military services. These professions work in teams and understand that there is one sole goal to be achieved.
It’s clear that being an autocratic leader can work in certain environments but not others, particularly where creativity is needed to thrive. Regardless of leadership style, you may have to implement the traits of an autocratic leader during an emergency crisis.
As an autocratic leader, you bear responsibility for every decision you make. You must hold yourself accountable even if the income does not pan out in your favour.
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Thought leaders & celebrities share their tactics for success on the Lisnic podcast by Lisa Teh & Nick Bell